Luk 1:1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us,
Luk 1:2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us,
Luk 1:3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,
Luk 1:4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.
English Standard Version
I am alternately amused and bemused by the number of people who think that faith means turning off our brains and believing something beyond reason despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary of the subject believed.
It’s one of those half right notions that makes a whole lie. Faith IS, at some point, a step beyond knowledge, but it is far from a leap in the dark. Biblical faith is, and always has been, founded on fact.
Luke doesn’t waste any time explaining to us why he wrote this letter. He writes to confirm the truth of the Christian message that was sweeping the Roman Empire. This Christian sect would soon catch the attention of Nero himself, who would, in turn, use the rumors and myths about the Christ followers to his advantage when he needed a villain upon whom to blame the burning of Rome.
It had been roughly 30 years since Jesus had been crucified and raised. His followers were taking the news that this Galilean Jew was more than a martyred prophet; He is the long awaited Messiah of the Jews and the hope of eternal life for all people, Jew and non-Jew alike.
Most of the message of Jesus life and teaching was handed down verbally, though, according to Luke, there were also a number of written versions. These written versions almost definitely included Matthew’s Gospel and possibly Mark’s, though I happen to believe Mark’s Gospel came just a few years after Luke. I’ll explain why I think that some other day, for now just go with it.
Luke, a practicing physician and travelling companion of the Apostle Paul, decided to interview the original sources and put the story of Jesus into an ‘orderly account’. I think that by orderly, he means ‘ordered’ or organized. Many of the versions of Jesus life were likely random collections of sayings, teachings, and memories of events that people put together in no particular order as they shared their experiences of their time with Him.
Luke, having a scientific mind, realizes that by creating an organized account of the life of Jesus, it will make more sense to people, and by showing his research he can confirm to Theophilus (and the rest of us) that these Jesus stories are not wild tales of fantasy like those from Roman and Greek mythologies, but were real events based in time and space.
Luke’s Gospel is, then, the oldest book in existence written with the express purpose of establishing the veracity of Christian doctrine. Sure, some of Paul’s letters are older than Luke’s Gospel, but they were written to assist Believers in the living out of their faith. Luke writes to defend that faith.
He categorically states that the book is “that you might have certainty of the things you’ve been taught.”
As we travel through Luke’s Gospel, we’re going to look specifically at the different stories, events, miracles and sermons he uses to show who Jesus is. Is Jesus just another wandering rabbi who ended up on the wrong side of the law? Was he a cult leader leading his followers astray? Was he just a good guy who got framed for crimes he didn’t commit? Was he a trouble maker who got what he deserved? Or was he possibly the Savior of the world as His followers claimed?
We’re going to dig in and see what we can discover, because the identity of Jesus is a hugely important question. If He is a goofball or a fraud, He should be dismissed. If He is something more, we need to know that, because it could change our lives….forever.
Not every claim in the Bible can be put in a laboratory and tested, but much of it can be. If what can be tested proves trustworthy, then it follows that we can trust its message also in the areas that can’t be tested. Luke writes about things that happened in time and space. He interviews men and women who were there; people who were familiar with the origins of the Christian Gospel and he draws some very interesting conclusions. The first of which is, the Gospel message is certain.
Do you have the courage to journey with me through the rest of Luke’s Gospel and see where it leads? Gosh, I hope so. I think we’re in for quite the adventure. Please do join in the discussion as well.