Luke is the longest of the Gospels and was written principally for the Greeks. Each Gospel presents the Lord Jesus from a different viewpoint.
Matthew as King of Israel.
Mark as the perfect Servant.
John as the Son of God.
Luke as the Son of Man. The human divine One.
The humanity our Lord is prominent in the Gospel. Luke alone tells us of the boyhood of Christ. He also reveals more of His prayer life than the other Synoptics. He mentions frequently His sympathy and compassion. This may account for our Lord’s involvement with women and children.
Luke’s Gospel is also known as the missionary Gospel. In it the Gospel goes out to the Gentiles, and the Lord Jesus is presented as the Savior of the world. Luke alone records the parables of the 15th chapter. The sending forth of the seventy and their subsequent mission.
The outline is very interesting.
The public ministry to the Triumphal Entry.
The Rejection and Death.
His Resurrection-Commission to His disciples- and His Ascension.
Luke’s introduction is masterly. He reveals himself as a historian as well as a doctor. His information came from two sources, written and oral. Verse 1 would describe the written sources.
The A.S.V. is very explicit in its interpretation of this verse. “For as much as many have taken in hand to draw up a narrative concerning those matters which have been fulfilled among us.”
Apart from Matthew and Mark we do not know who the others were.
Verse 2 describes his oral sources. “Those who from the beginning were eye-witnesses of and attendants on the Word have delivered them unto us.”
Luke never claimed to be an eye-witness, but he interviewed those who were. Notice how he uses the “Word” as a name of Christ.
Verse 3 This verse shows that Luke, by his study, had gained an accurate understanding of the life of Christ. These he has put down in order, for the benefit of his most excellent friend Theophilus. The phrase “from the first” would be better translated “from above.” In all other places where the word occurs it is so rendered.
To sum up—Luke’s knowledge of the details of Christ’s life was not only derived from written and oral sources, but was confirmed by divine revelation.
Verses 5-25 In these verses the birth of John the Baptist is foretold. In Verses 57-66 he is born and named. Verse 6 Note the character of the parents of John.
· “They were both righteous.”
· “They walked in all the commandments and ordinances.”
· “They were blameless before the Lord.”
Verses 9-10 Notice the conditions prior to the message from heaven.
1. Zacharias as the priest was offering up prayer in the sanctuary.
2. The people were praying as they stood outside.
We need men and women of this caliber and attitude today.
When the angel appeared, Verse 11, Zacharias was afraid. Verse 12. On receiving the message that their prayer would be answered, and a son would be born to them. Verse 13. Verse 18 Zacharias was struck with the sheer impossibility of the promise.
His plaintive question expressed the pent-up doubts of his heart. “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well stricken in years.” He was stuck dumb. Unbelief brings dumbness.
Note now the character of the son who would be born. His name was to be John, “the favor or grace of Jehovah.” He would be great in the eyes of the Lord.
His greatness would be seen in three ways.
(1) He would be great in his personal separation to God.
He would not drink wine—made from grapes.
He would not drink strong drink—made from grain.
(2) He would be great in his spiritual endowment.
He would be filled with the Holy Spirit from his birth.
(3) He would be great in his role as the herald of the Messiah.
He would turn many to the Lord.
His ministry would be like Elijah’s, seeking to bring the people into a right relationship with God.
In short, he would strive to gather out of the world a company of believers who would be ready to meet the Lord in the day of His appearing. This is a worthy ministry for each of us today.
The focus now changes from John to Jesus. Six months later the angel Gabriel reappears to a virgin called Mary. Verses 26-33 contain the message he brought to her. This is known as the annunciation. In essence it was that she was highly favored of the Lord. She was blessed among women. She would conceive and bring forth a son whose name would be Jesus.
Verses 32-33 show us the character of this son.
Verses 34-38 Jesus’ miraculous conception. “How shall this be?” Mary asked in wonder, not doubt, “for I have never had relations with a man?”
God’s answer to Mary’s problem of “How?” was “The Holy Spirit will come upon thee, and the power of the highest shall over-shadow thee; and that holy thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”
In these few words we have the sublime statement of the incarnation. Note Mary’s submission and surrender. Verse 38. “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to Thy word.”
Verses 39-56 Mary’s visit to Elisabeth and Mary’s Magnificat.
Mary may have gone to Elisabeth’s to avoid the scandal which would arise in Nazareth when her condition became known. When Elisabeth heard Mary’s voice, her unborn child leaped in her womb. Then the Holy Spirit controlled Elisabeth, guiding her speech and actions. Verse 41. Three persons in this chapter are filled with the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist Verse 15—Elisabeth Verse 41—Zacharias Verse 67.
John was filled with the Spirit that he might prepare the nation for the coming of the Messiah. Verse 15-17. Elisabeth was filled with the Spirit and she spoke for God. Verses 42-45. Zacharias was filled with the Spirit and he prophesied Verse 67.
Stress the importance of being filled with the Spirit.
Verses 46-56 These verses contain Mary’s song magnifying the Lord. This song resembles the song of Hannah in 1 Samuel 2:1-10. The song is divided into three parts.
1. Mary praised the Lord for what He had done for her. Verses 46-49.
2. She praised the Lord for His mercy to those who fear Him in every generation. Verses 50-53.
3. She magnified the Lord for His faithfulness to Israel in keeping His promises made to Abraham and his seed. Verses 54-55.
Mary stayed with Elisabeth for 3 months, then returned to Nazareth.
Verses 57-66 tells us of the birth of John the Baptist. When the baby was born, the friends and relatives thought that he would be named Zacharias after his father. Elisabeth told them, “His name is John.” Verse 63.
They appealed to Zacharias, who affirmed his name on a pad. Verse 63. Immediately after he wrote this, “His name is John,” his speech returned.
The rest of the chapter from Verse 67 is taken up with the prophecy of Zacharias concerning John. Liberated from the bonds of unbelief and filled with the Holy Spirit Zacharias was led to write this eloquent hymn of praise. In this song he praises God. Verse 68. “Blessed be the Lord God.” He praises Him for what He has done. 68-69. He praises Him for His faithfulness.
He describes the mission of John. Verses 76-77. He was the prophet of the Most High. He would prepare the peoples’ hearts for the coming of the Lord. He would proclaim Salvation through the forgiveness of sins.
He also likened Christ’s coming to the sunrise. For centuries the world has been in darkness. With the coming of the Lord the dawn would break. The light would illuminate those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death—the Gentiles. And would guide the nation of Israel in the paths of peace. Mal 4:2.
The chapter closes with the simple statement that John grew physically and spiritually, and that he remained in the wilderness until his public appearance to the nation of Israel.