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The Gospel of Luke also referred to as The Book of Luke or simply Luke is the third book of the New Testament, the third Gospel, and the forty-second book of the Bible. It is attributed to the physician Luke. Compared to the other Gospels, Luke is much a more detailed historical account of the life of Jesus.
Luke contains accounts of several incidents in Jesus life that are not found in the other Gospels. Luke is also the only Gospel that contains a sequel, the Book of Acts, which takes place shortly after the final event in Luke, the Ascension of Jesus.
Like the other gospels, there is no attribution of authorship within the text itself. However, the original recipient was a man named Theophilus, to whom the author wrote two treatises. Three passages in the second volume, the book known as the Acts of the Apostles, indicate the author was an eyewitness of at least those portions of that book. Since Luke is mentioned by name as being with Paul when he wrote from the jail in Rome, and the first person accounts in Acts put the writer with the Apostle at that time, it can be reasoned that the author was Luke, a Gentile physician.
Luke was written with a larger emphasis on historical details compared to the other Gospels. Luke wrote his gospel using eyewitness accounts, probably recounted to him personally. But, as with much of the history in the Old Testament, he may have used uninspired historical records to produce a God-inspired biblical account. Similarities to the canonical gospels of Matthew and Mark indicate that he may have consulted these as well. As with the other gospel writers, his task was guided by God Himself.
The Book of Luke was written specifically to verify the events of Jesus' life. To this end, Luke set out to defend the message of the good news concerning the Savior. The recipient of this was one named Theophilus, a high official of some sort. From the name "Theophilus" it can be assumed that the man was a "Friend of God" (the meaning of the name). Whether this official already believed or needed to be persuaded is not clear.
Luke begins with an account of the birth of John the Baptist, son of Zacharias, who would be the forerunner of the Messiah. Only then does it cover the interactions of Mary and Joseph with Angels and the months before Jesus's birth.
After the birth narrative, the ministry of John as Baptist is detailed up to the baptism of Jesus. Based on eyewitness accounts, Luke records three periods of Jesus' ministry: those in Galilee, Judea and Jerusalem. The final days of Jesus on earth take up the last five chapters out of the twenty-four.
At the end of the Gospel, Jesus walks with and teaches his disciples after rising from death by crucifixion. After seeing Jesus ascend bodily into heaven, his followers worship him as God and go into Jerusalem to praise Him in the Temple.
The births of John the Baptist and Jesus the Messiah are told through both narrative and dialogue. With both, the coming births are announced ahead of time by angels, and revealed to be miracles. The story shifts from the privileged priestly class to the working class, and then to the servant class. Then, the angels reappear—to the lowly servants taking care of sheep in the fields. The baby who had to sleep in a manger would become the talk of the town.
Preparation for Ministry
Following the Law of circumcision and dedication, Jesus' mother and adopted father prepared him for his purpose in the world. They first heard of this from Simeon, the priest who dedicated their son to God. But then, when they took him back to Jerusalem as a twelve year old—on the edge of "manhood"—they found that their expectations of Jesus were too low.
The ministry of Jesus required him to be prepared by God, His Father, for both the blessings and trials of being the Anointed of the Lord. This would require the work of his cousin John in preparing the people for his coming to walk among them.
The work of the baptizer would end when Jesus submitted to the rite of baptism. This act of anointing set him apart to His ministry and was authorized by a sign from heaven: a dove representing the Holy Spirit.
After this, Jesus would be driven by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to face the Tempter. Like Moses and Elijah, Jesus faced 40 days of fasting to be finally prepared for his ministry to the world.
Jesus began his ministry in his hometown, but he would relocate to Capernaum due to the unbelief of his neighbors. The young carpenter just did not seem to be what they expected in the Messiah. Most of Jesus' miracles happened near the Sea of Galilee, including the feeding of the five thousand (the only miracle other than the resurrection mentioned in all four gospels.
In the midst of the miracles, Jesus taught potential followers by way of parables. These stories, drawn from real life situations. Even his disciples found many of these stories to be confusing. However, Jesus assured them that his true disciples would understand in time, for they had the spirit of God in their presence.
Late in his ministry, within a year of his crucifixion, Jesus moved his ministry closer to Jerusalem. Though this made his disciples nervous, Jesus reminded them constantly that he would soon be captured and killed. In introducing the subject of his resurrection, Jesus was faced with many incredulous inquiries.
In just a little bit more space than with the birth of Christ, several chapters were used to document the trial, execution and resurrection of Jesus. The great men of the day became but minor characters in the drama that the Father Himself used to thrust Jesus into the expanding world of the religious thought. When not even the grave could hold Him, Jesus demonstrated he was the very Son of God, even as his genealogy attested to.