Luke’s Gospel: An Orderly Account (Advent 4)
The following was written for a devotional guide for CityView Church for Advent 2009…
Read Luke 1-2 (specifically Luke 1:1-4)
This third week of Advent we’ll be taking a close look at Luke’s account of the birth narrative. From what we know, Luke was a physician, an amateur historian, and a close friend of the Apostle Paul (see Colossians 4:14, 2 Timothy 4:11, Philemon 24; also, the ‘we’ in the latter part of Acts is Luke and Paul – see chapters 16, 20, 21 especially). He wrote the New Testament books of Luke and Acts originally as a two-part account of the life of Jesus and the beginnings of Christianity. As such, there are several themes that are woven throughout both books and tell us a lot about the purpose that God accomplishes through Luke and his writings. While you’re reading, pay attention to the details that Luke highlights: historical information (people, places, dates, etc.), the role of the Holy Spirit and angels, the major theme of prayer, and the themes of joy and blessing.
That having been said, the first four verses are a very important introduction for how Luke is going to shape his account of the gospel of Jesus. First we see in verse one that some things have been accomplished among us. The rest of Luke’s account gives us the details of what exactly he is talking about, but the short version of the incredible heart of the gospel is that Jesus has done it all. He is the one who was sent by God into the world to be born, live a perfect life, die a horrendous death, and be resurrected to sit at the right hand of the Father. And the amazing thing is that he did it all for those whom God would call to be followers of Jesus – and we didn’t do one thing to help him! Salvation was accomplished before you and I were born. Every sin that you and I have committed was paid for before we ever took a breath. Just like Jim wrote last week, we are powerless to try and accomplish anything on our own and it’s offensive to God when we do. So let’s rest in the fact that God has accomplished it all and given us freedom as a free gift because of his grace.
But the story doesn’t stop there – in verse two we see that the things that were accomplished spurred those who saw them to tell others about what happened, and one of those people was Luke. What Jesus accomplished in his life, death, and resurrection moved people to action, and it resulted in the gospel spreading all over the world. Think about it – if you’re a Christian, you probably heard about Jesus from someone, and that person heard about Jesus from someone else. Trace that line of thought all the way back to Jesus’ original disciples and the authors of the books of the Bible. Now, will that line end with you? God has moved in history in such a way as to spur dozens of generations of people to tell others about him… who will you tell? And more importantly, when will you tell them?
After being told about Jesus and becoming a Christian, Luke was led by the Holy Spirit to compile ‘an orderly account’ after ‘having followed all things closely for some time past’ (v.3). It must’ve taken a lot of work to gather the information, ask the questions, and do the interviews in order to get an accurate record of Jesus’ life (many scholars believe that Luke’s account is based on information contributed by Mary and many other eyewitnesses). And Luke didn’t just do this because he was bored and didn’t have an X-Box – he did it so that we would have a faith based on good reason and solid evidence (v.4). This is now the third biblical account of Jesus’ life that we’ve dug into, and there’s one more to go after this week. God has given us these different writers so that we may have faith when our world turns upside down or someone says the Bible is a work of pure fiction. We don’t just have a faith that is built on speculation and rumors – rather it’s built on eyewitness testimonies from historically reliable sources and real events. The gospel is pure Truth delivered to us by a God who loves us dearly and wants us to be encouraged to live in light of that Truth. Consider that, and be encouraged and strengthened in your faith as you read through this week’s devotionals and the rest of Luke’s gospel account.
– What do your actions and motives say about your relationship with God? To ask this question another way, are you going to church, reading your Bible, and praying out of an overflow of your heart or out of a sense of obligation to try and earn God’s favor?
– What does Jesus’ finished work (both the cross and resurrection) mean for your whole life? How does an already-accomplished peace with God change how you see the world?
– When was the last time you told someone else about your faith in Jesus? Has the Lord put someone on your heart to be praying for and share the gospel with?
– One of the main reasons that Luke includes historical details is so that we would know that God came into history to interact with us. How is God working in your life right now?