Understanding Christ: An overview of the book of Luke

Christmas is fast approaching, the holiday season is here, the shops are already closing up in some other parts of the world like the United States of America and other advanced economies of the world. Where I live in Nigeria everyone here is preparing for the season of 'rice' in its various expressions. People are ready to travel to their 'village' to celebrate Christmas as if Christ were born in their village! Well, Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judea, but when we celebrate him come December 25th Christ manifests himself everywhere and can be said to be born everywhere. He is that one person whose birthday is celebrated across different languages, nations, and people. They say it's the most beautiful time of the year, and yes it is! For during this time when Christ was to be born the earth was about to witness the greatest visitation of heaven on earth!

Christmas, however, goes beyond the holidays and celebration. Christmas is about understanding the Christ who came to take away the sins of the world! Christmas is about understanding Christ and not just chopping rice! And so when someone came up with the idea of studying the book of LUKE, which has 24 chapters from December 1 to December 24 as a way of understanding Christ just before the December 25th celebration, it was a welcome idea for me, a great idea that will ensure a studious approach to the forthcoming Christmas and the result of which will be understanding the full measure of Christ!

The question I have been asking since then is why the book of LUKE! Numerically the number of chapters in the book of Luke makes it a perfect fit for this exercise! Luke has 24 chapters, and this fits in perfectly to the days leading up to Christmas which are December 1-24 giving us 24 full days to read the Luke account of the life of Jesus just before we celebrate him on the 25th of December! It gives us the perfect mix to know the master anew. I have this knowing that this Christmas will be a miracle filled Christmas for you! My reason is simple Paul said, "that I may know him and the power of his resurrection". The more we know Christ the more of His power we experience in our lives.

Still on the numerical uniqueness of the book of Luke. Do you know that in actual fact the book of Luke is the longest book in the new testament? Well by chapters the longest books are actually the book of Matthew and Acts, these two books have 28 chapters. But in terms of word counts the number of Greek words used in Luke actually counts as 19,482. Luke is actually the longest. Acts have 18,450 Greek words, while Matthew's contains 18,346. However, this is trivial but nonetheless interesting

The question is how will the book of Luke help me understand Christ? I will present a few facts here and from tomorrow we will begin to explore Luke's gospel properly. First, we look at the AUTHOR.

THE AUTHOR

Just like every other synoptic gospel (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), the book of Luke is named after the author, Luke. He introduced himself to us and we will go into other facts about him but what we must note about Luke at this point is that Luke was a Gentile just like you and me! According to records and history, he was a Syrian by birth and essentially he wrote his gospel to a certain Theophilus(Luke 1:1-4), whom historians believe must have commissioned Luke to write this gospel. Theophilus was also a gentile and the interesting thing is that his name Theophilus means in literal translation 'the beloved of God' and that aptly describes everyone who has been born of God into the kingdom of God - you and me!

Luke wrote his gospel for a Gentile audience, emphasizing that the Messiah came to the poor, lowly, outcast and Gentiles, while Matthew addressed the Jews, proving to them that Jesus was the Messiah and fulfilled Old Testament Scriptures. Matthew was approaching his Jewish audience on common grounds to open their hearts for the Messiah. Luke had a real heart for the poor and wanted to reach the marginalized since Jesus had come to 'preach good news to the poor'(Lk 4:18). Mark in his own perspective wrote for a more Roman audience. So the book of Luke is essentially written for the Gentiles to comprehend Christ from a gentile perspective and this makes this gospel, our Gospel. But it's much more than that, the content of the book of Luke it's unique in its composition!

THE CONTENT

Luke was not the first gospel to be written, by his own admission in Luke 1:1-4, other gospel accounts have been written before his, and that notably should be the book of Mark and Matthew. I won't go into details proving this. But despite this Luke wrote his own unique gospel in order to confirm that which has been written before. He didn't write to go against what Mattew and Mark wrote. He wrote so he could give more details that you won't find in the other gospel, hence 50% of the content of the book of Luke was unique to Luke.

How many miracles did Jesus perform while on earth? The closing chapters of the book of John tells us that there can't be enough volumes written to record all that Jesus did. That's how much God wrought through Jesus while he was on earth. However, 35 miracles of Christ were recorded in all the gospels. 20 of these miracles were recorded in the book of Luke, while 7 of these miracles can only be found in the book of Luke! Also, the recorded parables of Jesus, at least the ones classified as parables as recorded in the gospels totaled 51, 35 of these are recorded in the book of Luke and 19 of those recorded in Luke are unique to Luke alone - can only be found there! What does this tell us? Without the book of Luke over 50% of the works and the words of Jesus would not have been understood! Therefore understanding the person of Christ, his words, his works, and the totality of his ministry on the earth cannot be achieved without looking through the book of Luke!

THE FOCUS

When you go through all of the words and works of Christ as recorded in the book of Luke one truth begins to shine out, that more than anything else Luke wanted us to understand the humanity of Christ! Here was God made manifest in the flesh and lived among us sharing in our pains, joy, suffering and all that we go through as a fragile being called human. It's right here in the gospel of Luke that we read a parable only unique to Luke, the parable of the good Samaritan. It was here in this gospel that Jesus' relationships with other people were focused on. When you read in Luke 8 you will see certain women mentioned to be partners that supported Jesus. Indeed the book of Luke mentioned 13 other women that were not mentioned in the other gospel. Here in this gospel, we see the humanity and divinity of Christ equally revealed, here in this gospel we understand the full measure and stature of Christ, how He was both God and man. Join me in the next 24 days as we explore the gospel of Christ according to Luke

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