Luke was the only Gentile writer of the New Testament. He was a physician by profession. He was Paul's co-worker, and he traveled with him from the time he crossed over into Europe on his second missionary journey (Ac 16) until his imprisonment in Rome. Luke's Gospel is a companion volume to Acts. Both the Gospel and Acts were directed to Theophilus, whose name means "lover of God." Luke, the historian and evangelist, carefully researched those who had been eyewitnesses of Jesus' ministry, and he recorded accurate facts--from Jesus' birth to his ascension--in an orderly way. His purpose was to plant gospel faith in his readers, and to show that God's heart is for the salvation of the whole world. He lays a foundation for world missions, for he sees the roots of Paul's mission to the Gentiles in the very heart and mind of Jesus. The Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts are tied together by a key quotation from Isaiah 42:6, "a light for...the Gentiles..." (Lk 2:32; Acts 13:47)
While this Gospel is one of the Synoptic Gospels, there are several emphases which are characteristic to Luke: the role of women; Jesus' teachings about money; his concern for the poor; the Holy Spirit in Jesus' ministry; prayer. Luke focuses on Jesus' mission and the nature of his messiahship, (4:18-20) so he records the events and teachings of Jesus that are important in understanding the way of salvation. The key verse is 19:10: "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."
1:1-4:13--Begins in Jerusalem (birth narratives)
4:14-9:50--Galilean ministry (Who Jesus is)
9:51-19:27--Judean and Perean ministry (Why he came)
19:28-24:53--Ends in Jerusalem (Passion week)
A GODLY COUPLE
Key Verse: 1:13
1. An orderly account (1-4)
Luke wrote to lovers of God an orderly and well-attested account of Jesus' birth, life and death, so that we might know for certain that the gospel is true.
2. Zechariah and Elizabeth (5-7)
Luke the historian begins in Jerusalem with an old priestly couple who were living lives of faith in godless times. They were the lamp of God, burning in a dark world. They had a secret sorrow--they were childless. But they did not despair or become bitter. They were called upright in the sight of God, for they lived according to the Bible, and they prayed.
3. Your prayer has been heard (8-17)
Once Zechariah was chosen to go into the temple and burn incense. This was intercessory prayer for the people and the nation. He prayed for himself too. God's angel appeared to announce the birth of John the Baptist. They must raise him to be a man of God. Through him, God would bless many people to repent. He would prepare the way for the Messiah--God's greatest blessing for all people of all time.
Prayer: Lord, help me to be a small candle light burning in dark times.
One Word: God uses prayerful people
GOD TRAINS ZECHARIAH
Key Verse: 1:20
1. Because you did not believe (18-22)
When the angel Gabriel who stands in the presence of God, told Zechariah that he would have a son, he couldn't believe it--even though he had prayed for a son. He lived an upright life; he prayed and studied the Bible and never missed worship service. He thought he had faith, but in fact, he had become fatalistic. He didn't believe that God could change his situation. So God gave him "silence training" for nearly a year. Even devout men of God sometimes need to be trained in faith.
2. Elizabeth's joy (23-25)
By faith Elizabeth had accepted her barrenness, and she lived as though she had no problems. But when she became pregnant with John, "God's gift," she revealed how deeply this problem had affected her. She praised God for his favor and for taking away her disgrace. God's blessing changed her from a barren woman to a fruitful woman.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for your training in faith. And thank you for your grace and favor, which still makes barren people fruitful.
One Word: God disciplines those he loves
THE HIGHLY FAVORED ONE
Key Verse: 1:38
1. You have found favor with God (26-33)
When Mary heard that she had found favor with God, she was afraid and troubled. She must have known that God's favor--his grace--though beautiful, is costly. She was just a simple country girl who was engaged to a young man named Joseph. Joseph was a humble carpenter, but the blood of kings flowed in his veins, for he was a descendant of David. Mary was looking forward to their sweet home. But God had a mission for her. He had chosen her to be the mother of his Son Jesus, the promised Messiah who would rule over an eternal kingdom. God was sending his Son, Mary's Son, to be the Savior of the world.
2. I am the Lord's servant (34-38)
Mary did not hesitate because of the personal sacrifice involved; she hesitated because what God asked of her defied her human reason: It seemed impossible. But nothing is impossible with God. The angel told her about Elizabeth. And Mary made a decision of faith to give up her human dream and be totally available to God--to be the Lord's servant.
Prayer: Lord, let me serve you in any way you choose. Teach me to bear your costly grace.
One Word: I am the Lord's servant
BLESSED IS SHE WHO BELIEVED
Key Verse: 1:45
1. A trip to see Elizabeth (39-41)
Mary realized that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit (35). She must have felt terribly alone. To whom could she turn? She could have sought human sympathy from Joseph or her parents or some friend, but she remembered the angel's message and decided to go to Elizabeth, her relative who lived in Judea. God had done great work in Elizabeth. Mary sought spiritual encouragement rather than human sympathy.
2. The baby in my womb leaped for joy (42-45)
When Mary arrived at the home of Zechariah and Elizabeth in the hill country of Judea, Elizabeth greeted her joyfully. She didn't need to be told what had happened. Mary was a younger cousin, but Elizabeth greeted her humbly as the "mother of my Lord." Baby John in her womb recognized baby Jesus in Mary's womb. Elizabeth blessed Mary because Mary believed God and she believed God's word of promise. Joy and praise come from faith. Mary stayed until the time came for John to be born.
Prayer: Lord, help me to seek the council and advice of your people rather than that of worldly people.
One Word: Blessed is she who believed
Key Verse: 1:47
1. My soul glorifies the Lord (46-49)
When Mary heard Elizabeth's blessing, praise flowed from her heart. She was an ordinary country girl, but God had chosen her. She was a sinner who rejoiced in God her Savior. He is the Mighty One--holy is his name! He had done great things for her. God's mighty work of sending his Son into the world was being done because one humble woman trusted and obeyed him. She recognized his grace in her life, and she praised him for calling her to be his servant.
2. God's mighty deeds for all (50-56)
God's great work in Mary was not for her sake alone. She found her place in the stream of God's redemptive history. God's mercy and forgiveness extend down through all generations to those who fear him. A quiet revolution was beginning. Rulers would be brought down and humble people exalted. The hungry would be filled and the rich sent away empty. The proud in heart would be scattered. God was keeping his promise to Abraham, to bless the world through his descendant, Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Lord, help me to obey you so that I may know your love and find my place in your history.
One Word: Rejoice in God
HIS NAME IS JOHN
Key Verse: 1:63b
1. Elizabeth's baby is born (57-58)
When a son was born to Zechariah and Elizabeth, all the neighbors and relatives rejoiced. Their home had been so empty and lonely. They had not complained about their childless state, but their neighbors could guess the deep sorrow buried in their hearts. Now, God had filled their home with joy--and everyone rejoiced with them.
2. He is to be called John (59-66)
The baby was circumcised and named on the eighth day. Naming the baby "John" was an act of faith for Zechariah and Elizabeth. No one could understand why they did not name him for his father. But "John" was the name given him by the angel. To affirm this name was to acknowledge that their baby was God's gift--and that he belonged to God. So Zechariah's silence training ended as soon as he wrote the words, "His name is John." The Lord's hand was with baby John, for God had a very special mission for him.
Prayer: Lord, all I am and have are yours. Help me to obey your word--not follow my human reason or feelings.
One Word: His name is John
THE HORN OF SALVATION
Key Verse: 1:69
1. He has raised up a horn of salvation (67-73)
Zechariah's dumb lips opened when his son John was born. He sang a song of praise to the God of Israel who had come to redeem his people. He praised Jesus, the mighty horn of salvation. "Horn" represents power and authority (Dt 33:17; Ps 22:21). Jesus, born in the royal line of David, is the Mighty God who came to save his people. Satan also has a horn--in fact, he has 10 horns (Rev 13:1). Jesus is powerful enough to break Satan's horn, powerful enough to break the yoke of sin and save us from the strong grip of Satan.
2. To serve him without fear (74-75)
God sent Jesus to fulfill the oath he swore to our father Abraham. He sent him to rescue us from the hand of our enemy Satan. He saves us so that we can serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness all our days.
Prayer: Lord, I am weak, and I cannot save myself. Praise Jesus, the Horn of Salvation, who pierced Satan and set me free. Help me to serve you in holiness and righteousness, without fear, all my days.
One Word: Jesus, the Horn of Salvation
TO PREPARE THE WAY
Key Verse: 1:76
1. To give knowledge of salvation (76-78a)
Zechariah's son was not the Christ. He was John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Messiah. He was sent by God to prepare the way for Christ's coming. How does one prepare for the coming of the Lord? John's ministry called people to repentance. He proclaimed forgiveness of sin. Our great human problem is sin. Jesus came to solve this problem by dying for our sins and rising from death. John made people aware of sin and he heralded Jesus the Savior.
2. The rising Sun (78b-80)
At the time of Jesus' coming, the world was clothed in the dark night of sin. My life was also dark and meaningless before Jesus came to me. Jesus' coming is like the rising sun. He shines his light of salvation and life on those living in the darkness of sin and fear, under the shadow of death.
Prayer: Lord, help me to be a herald of Jesus. Help me to prepare a way for him to come into the dark lives of the people of my time.
One Word: Jesus turns darkness into light
THE BABY IN THE MANGER
Key Verse: 2:7
1. Caesar Augustus (1-3)
Rome ruled the world; she enforced "Pax Romana"--Roman peace. She exacted taxes from all her colonial possessions. Caesar Augustus' word was law. When he ordered a census of the entire Roman world, everyone had to go and register--irrespective of personal circumstances. Caesar represents worldly power. His palace represents a selfish, pleasure-seeking lifestyle.
2. The Baby in the manger (4-7)
Joseph and Mary also had to register. They had to go to Bethlehem, even though Mary had reached the full term of her pregnancy. In Bethlehem, everything was crowded and everybody was busy. Joseph was one of the powerless people. He was poor and he had no clout; he couldn't get a room in the inn. Still, there is no room in a sinful world and no room in crooked hearts for the Savior. The Son of God was born in a stable and laid in a manger. But Jesus, not Caesar, is the ruler of the world. Only Jesus' kingdom is eternal.
Prayer: Lord, help me to love Jesus' humble lifestyle; give me eyes to see things as they really are, so that I may pity Caesar, not envy him.
One Word: The baby in the manger
Key Verse: 2:11
1. The angels' song (8-14)
An angel clothed in glory announced Jesus' birth. His birth was good news of great joy for all people of all times. He was the promised Messiah, the Savior, Christ the Lord. God sent him to bring salvation from sin, eternal life and the kingdom of God to all who trust him. The baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger was God's sign. The angels' chorus joined in: Jesus' coming means glory to God and peace to men who receive his grace. He brings joy and peace that no one else can give and no one can take away.
2. The shepherds' faith (15-20)
This world-changing announcement was made to some humble shepherds on night duty. They were terrified at the sight of the angel. God chose the shepherd as a symbol of the Messiah; he himself is the shepherd of his people. The shepherds heard the good news and went to see what had happened. When they saw the baby in the manger, they recognized God's sign and believed God's word; they rejoiced and praised God.
Prayer: Lord, give me eyes to see the humble sign of your hand working in our midst, and rejoice.
One Word: The sign of the Savior
BORN UNDER THE LAW
Key Verse: 2:21
1. They named him Jesus (21)
On the eighth day Jesus was circumcised. His parents claimed for him the covenant promises that God had given to Abraham in Genesis 17:3-12. Jesus' parents were godly people who wanted to raise their son according to God's law. They were people of faith. They believed what the angel told them about their precious son, so they named him "Jesus," as the angel had commanded. His name meant "salvation."
2. Presented in the temple (22-24)
According to Leviticus 12, a woman who gave birth to a son must bring him to the temple after 40 days and offer sacrifices. A wealthy family might offer a lamb; a poor family, two doves or two young pigeons. Mary brought the pigeons. Jesus' human family was poor by worldly material standards, but they were rich in love for God and in love for his laws. God entrusted his son to godly parents.
Prayer: Lord, teach me to humbly submit to your law and honor you with my offerings. Thank you for Jesus, the Savior of the world and my Savior, who learned obedience (Heb 5:8).
One Word: Learn obedience
Key Verse: 2:30,31
1. Simeon's faith (25-35)
Simeon was one of the "waiting people." He believed God's promise and prayed for his oppressed and suffering people. He was waiting for the Messiah. God promised him that he would see the Lord's Christ before he died. God's Spirit enabled him to see with eyes of faith. He took the baby in his arms and praised God, for his eyes saw God's salvation. He saw beyond his own people to the Gentile world, and prophesied that this baby would not only be a Savior for Israel, but also a light for all the people of the world. Simeon realized that redemption for the world meant pain and suffering for Jesus and for his mother.
2. Anna's hope (36-40)
Anna was a very old woman. She had lived almost all her life with no human hope. Her only hope was