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Luke

 

        Did a tear drop onto Luke’s papyrus? Did it smudge ink as he reminisced on Mary’s words and in his mind heard a cooing Baby Jesus?

     Maybe Luke worked deep into the nights. Maybe the candlelight’s flicker brought ambience to every recollection as Luke lingered over his notes and penned the most beautiful Gospel, one of the most beautiful books ever written. Maybe the crackle of his fire reminded him of the one that warmed the precious Infant. Surely Luke smiled when his stylus scripted across the sheet. The thoughts of Jesus, a newborn crying His arrival into the world He would save, must have been overwhelming. How do you write with goosebumps?

     Some sixty years after Jesus’ birth, Luke recorded for eternity the most eloquent, detailed account of the immaculate conception, birth, childhood, and ministry of our Lord. Luke likely labored over his work for months, writing from his notes and the Holy Spirit’s prompting. The results are the third Gospel and the book of Acts, a record of the inception and growth of the Christian Church.

     We know so little about Luke. Yet we know all we need. There are only three references to him in the Bible (Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 24), but through them and his writing style we can sketch a glimpse of the man whom God used to write more words of the New Testament than anyone else.

     He was probably a Gentile, probably Greek. He was a close traveling companion of Paul, perhaps his closest, a physician beloved by Paul. (Colossians 4:14) Luke no doubt shared in Paul’s persecutions and trials, all the while repeatedly doctoring the mighty apostle to recovery. Tradition holds that Luke was a native of Antioch and that he died unmarried and childless at the age of eighty-four. He is believed to have written each of his books while Paul was imprisoned, first in Caesarea and finally in Rome. That is where Paul wrote the most telling of words: “Only Luke is with me” (2 Timothy 4:11a).

     Luke was a Greek writing to fellow Gentiles, reassuring them that Christ came for all mankind. Luke’s work is unique in that it emphasizes the manhood of Jesus in all its perfection, purity, splendor, and sublimity. Jesus was the model for us all.

     “The Gospel of Luke displays a keen interest in individuals, social outcasts, women, children, and social relationships, especially situations involving poverty or wealth,” writes H. K. Farrell. “These features tell us something about Luke as a person and his understanding of Christianity.”

     The famous “we” passages beginning in Acts 16:10 reveal that Luke was eyewitness to much of Paul’s ministry. Yet Luke makes clear in the introduction of the book of Luke that he was not witness to the events of his Gospel but had “investigated everything carefully from the beginning” (v. 3). What possibilities does this statement open?

     If, as most scholars agree, Luke wrote his Gospel around a.d. 60, it is possible that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was alive and about eighty years old. The captivating thought of Luke interviewing Mary is ascribed credibility by the fact that Luke lingers over the birth of Jesus like none other. He also includes a recitation of Mary’s Song (1:46-55) that invokes at least twelve quotations of Old Testament Scripture. Luke’s detail may have come from the very lips of Jesus’ mother.

     “Caesarea was only a few miles from Jerusalem,” writes Henry Halley. “Jesus’ Mother may have been still alive, at John’s home in Jerusalem. Luke may have spent many precious hours with her, listening to her reminiscences of her Wondrous Son.”

     Respected scholar F. B. Meyer adds: “Luke dwells specially on the early incidents of our Lord’s life, and some have detected in the Greek forms of sentences the direct recital of Mary as she recounted to Luke those sacred recollections which she pondered in her heart.”

     Luke stressed the blessed humanity of Jesus and plights of women and children and the poor, sick, and outcast. From spending so much time with those closest to Jesus, Luke knew this is what the Lord would have wanted.

     One of the most challenging elements of using the quill is finding a way to hide behind it. Luke got out of the way and allowed the Lord His rightful place out front. He served in the background, never directly referring to himself.

     Luke labored without regard to himself or the persecution that raged around him. Luke was mighty in spirit because he did this by dying to self and living for the Lord whom he came to love more and more through the facts culled in interviews. He did this though his closest friend was in jail and ultimately under a death sentence.

     “Only Luke is with me,” Paul says. Nearby, Luke squinted at his notes, smiled, and picked up his stylus. He is with us still.