In reconsidering our thoughts on the Gospel of Luke we need to obviously bear in mind the Jesus Luke presents to us. Who is he? He is introduced to us by a lengthy discussion of the birth of John the Baptist. While John was in his mother’s womb, Mary became pregnant with Jesus. Jesus and John are cousins yet John willingly prepares the way for Jesus. John portrays the role of a prophet announcing the coming of the Messiah, for indeed, it was the Messiah who had arrived. The entire story of John the Baptist serves to highlight how important a person Jesus was. We are given Jesus’ genealogy only in the third chapter of Luke, and this is followed by his temptations in the desert by the devil. This entire introduction is to show us the importance of the Person of Jesus Christ.
It therefore comes as a shock to read in chapter 4 v 14 and following verses how Jesus’ first foray into public ministry is met with rejection and an attempt to kill him. This, of course, is the signal to us the readers that this is what the destiny of Jesus would be – rejection and finally death.
We follow Luke’s story with great interest from the call of the disciples, to his many miracles of healing and his confrontations with the religious establishment who constantly questioned him, rejected him and finally plotted against him and engineered his crucifixion.
But then we discover that his very crucifixion, though done with malicious culpability by the hands of his enemies, was God’s plan all along for his Son. For his Son was to be the Saviour of the world. Here is a mystery to beat the cleverest brain. How is God going to save a world that legally and in terms of justice needs to be punished? He cannot let the human race off the hook because he is simply kind, loving and tolerant! He is also just! And justice must be done or else all falls apart.
He cannot simply take one good man and allow him to die on the Cross for sin, for such a man, though very good, would die for only his own sin and nobody else’s!
God needed a man who was not only good, but perfect. He needed a man who was not only a man but more than a man so that his death could pay the penalty for the whole world. His one life would be worth the souls of all God’s elect.
In fact God needed God. And that is exactly what happened on the Cross. In His Son God was dying, paying the price of his own justice so that a guilty world would be given the offer of forgiveness and hope.
That is the story of Luke’s Gospel. And after a short break we hope to continue His story as we look at Luke’s second book, the book of Acts, to see how the story continues.
But think of it, dear readers. Here is the answer to all those accusations of unfairness on the part of God, to give an innocent man for the lives of others. It was not just one innocent man. It was God Himself. Can you see how serious a thing it is to reject this great offer of love? And can you see what a great thing it is that God has done for us?
Oh, what love is this.