David Pawson "Unlocking the Bible" -Luke
Thoughtful Thoughts 23.9.16
The Gospel of Luke
David Pawson’s message on our web-cast this week looks at the gospel of Luke.
In the ‘Old Testament’ there is a book written by a Gentile…that of Ruth. That shows how rare it is to have a Gentile author in the Bible. Well, Luke is the only Gentile to author any books in the ‘New’ Testament, and he wrote two of them.
So although the New Testament is a book written almost entirely by Jews, we Gentiles are invited into the plan God has, to create a family, but it is a story that started with the Jews.
Luke was a doctor and made it his life’s work to look after the Apostle Paul on his dangerous missions. Dr. Luke wrote the story of Paul in two parts, in what we now call Luke and Acts. Both were written to “The Most Excellent Theophilus” which was a legal title.
Imagine the context… Paul is in prison awaiting trial. Dr. Luke is on hand and volunteers to write to someone known with the legal title “Most Excellent…”. (Today we would call a judge, “your honour”, for example).
These two books were written to show how it came about, that a Pharisee, Saul, who persecuted Christians, ended up following the Jewish Messiah himself, which he too ended being persecuted for, by the religious leaders, all resulting in the trial that he was by now in prison waiting for. As a Roman citizen, Paul is entitled to a proper trial – a right others didn’t have. For this reason, Paul could not be crucified – only receive the quick death of being beheaded. So, Luke puts together a briefing for this Roman barrister / or judge, called “Theophilus”, to explain to him who the prisoner is, who will appear before him. It worked! As a result of Luke’s detailed account, Paul is released on this occasion from prison.
What Luke never realised was that God was using all this to create a written record of events which would become part of the Bible, for the benefit of all that followed on afterwards. Luke could not have known that. Here we see the sovereignty of God in all of this and should amaze us.
We see here how Jesus was interested in the Samaritans, (a people despised by the Jews, for being half Jew and half gentile), the gentiles, the outcasts, the women, the poor and the “sinners”. Luke tells us all that.
It is Luke who records that Jesus had John’s baptism of repentance, although He had never sinned, and that was in-spite of having had Jewish circumcision. (My father who was a vicar taught that Christening was instead of circumcision!) Well, John the Baptist, a Jew, even said that Jesus should be baptising him. We are also told that Jesus told His disciples to “baptise” (or immerse) others. (We are told that it was even being said that Jesus baptised even more than John the Baptist, although He got His disciples to do it.)
When we read the word of God, we need to let God use it to speak to us or else it becomes disobedience. Anything less is not discipleship. It is not following Jesus, whatever label we give it. Being challenged helps us to follow Jesus, as ‘Christian’ in “Pilgrims Progress” found. Many have discovered the problems we have if we walk away from being obedient. But that’s yet another story.
I’m John Dunning and that’s “Thoughtful Thoughts” for another week.