by Rev. Chris Skinner
During my study of Luke’s Gospel the theme that come through for me in a very striking manner was the universal and all embracing nature of the gospel and the way it emphasises the way the love of God works within people as they advance spiritually and show this love by action. This love is expressed in many ways which will be identified in the notes below. it was intriguing for me to notice how Luke builds on the parables of some of the other gospel writers to provide a dimension of the need along the journey to put in the work or show love in action. This is missing to some extent in Matthew and Mark and throws light on the inner meaning of the gospel which will be discussed in the second paper to be presented.
Luke being a Doctor, a Greek and a Gentile is well aware of the needs of people. He has an empathy with people and also is not locked into Jewish thought. He was sensitive to all the needs of the social structure of the day and shining through his gospel is the way Jesus did not distinguish between race or occupation in His Ministry. The affectional, emotional, loving and prayerful aspects of the Christian life are highlighted.
The need for a continuing return or re-visiting of Jerusalem is a feature of the Gospel and again shows in the spiritual sense the focus on the spiritual life of the individual person and the church. These major elements are developed below.
- Special emphasis on tax collectors, samaritans. lepers reveals a focus on the social outcasts of the society of the day.
- Women and Children are prominent in the gospel thereby highlighting the affectional and loving side of our relationship with others and the Lord. Elizabeth who was barren and then given a child of the Holy Spirit demonstrates the was the Lord works on our inner life. With Mary and Martha we see the contrast between the affectional and the use in everyday life. Names such as Anna, Susanna and Joanna do not appear in any other gospel.
- Qualities of compassion and nurturing shine through the gospel together with thankfulness. This is demonstrated in the ten lepers with only one returning to say thank you for the healing.
- Forgiveness another attribute of the Christian life is shown in the parable of the prodigal son. The Ten Lepers, Good Samaritan and Prodigal Son are not found in any other gospel.
- Prayer another aspect of the spiritual journey also features heavily in this gospel and is a vital aspect of living our faith. If our relationship with the Lord is to be enriched we will find peace and joy as a natural extension to our on-going usefulness.
- As we develop in our relationship with the Lord the material world,possessions etc must be balanced with love and charity. Luke focusses on the part that wealth and possessions play as he does with being fed or being hungry.
- If we see Luke as the gospel which focusses on putting in the work and demonstrating our faith by love in action then it is a natural progression to find that the presence of the Holy Spirit features prominently in the gospel. In AC 9818.14 the Writings speak of this as being the life coming from the Lord that is the life of faith and love. What has been said above about the emphasis of the gospel is encapsulated in this and is the Divine of the Lord proceeding through and out of a person in the way they act and live.
- The focus on Jerusalem is another demonstration of the consistent theme. Jerusalem represents the Lords Kingdom in general and in each individual. It is worship from spiritual love. It is heaven and the Lord and all the sequences in the gospel relate to this theme. This coupled with the temple featuring also which represents the church in our mind is another example of the spiritual quality of life. We have the uniting of truth and good or the church as to internals and the progressive uniting of the Divine Human.
- There is a consistency in this gospel about the regenerating life which must come from a love to the Lord and its demonstration in life. Without labouring the point I think a few statistics from the gospel will be useful.
He alone records the infancy narrative, anointing of Jesus by the sinner, conditions of discipleship, and walk to Emmaus.
Six of the twenty miracles are only in Luke and they focus on individuals mainly in various difficulties. The others 14 are slanted towards the outcasts and individuals in difficult situations.
Over half of the 35 parables recorded in Luke are found only in this gospel and they demonstrate application of faith to life.
Whilst I have given a wide sweep of this gospel I felt this was necessary to show how the content of the gospel is consistent with the theme of love in action and the Lord becoming a greater and deeper part of our life.