MAIN IDEA: Place your faith in the exact truth of God’s Word.
The Son of Man
Luke writes, so his readers will know and believe, with certainty, that Jesus Christ is indeed the “Son of Man,” the Messiah promised by God and prophesied in the Holy Scriptures. Luke carefully and meticulously provides the historical and theological narrative proving the divinity of Jesus.
The Son of Man is how Jesus most often refers to Himself (26 times in Luke’s gospel). The phrase does not apply to Jesus as being the literal son of a man. Instead, the Son of Man is an exalted title for a specific person prophesied by Daniel. The Son of Man is the Messiah who is the Redeemer and Savior of mankind.
Putting on Theophilus Shoes
Let’s imagine that we are Theophilus. We hear stories and are taught about a remarkable person. Around 30 years ago, a man going by the name Jesus created quite a stir in Jerusalem. Jesus, a Jew, is a teacher with many followers. When He is alive, He performs amazing miracles that people still talk about 30 years later. Jesus walks on the water. He heals the blind, deaf, and lame. He raises people from the dead. His works are astounding.
Jesus is a teacher who speaks about God continuously. He talks about loving our neighbor and even loving our enemies. Large crowds come to hear Him speak and teach.
Theophilus knows Jesus’ enemies ultimately arrest Jesus and condemn Him to death on a Roman cross. But, three days later, the followers of Jesus claim that they see Him alive. He rises from the grave and recognized by hundreds. And, shortly after His death and resurrection, His followers claim that Jesus is taken away into a cloud to heaven and that He will one day return to the earth.
Most importantly, this man Jesus, claims to be God. He claims to be the Creator of heaven and earth wrapped in human flesh. The fact that He performed incredible miracles is one thing. To claim to be God in the form of a man is mind-blowing.
Across the world, thousands of people are claiming to be followers of Jesus. The worship of begins in Jerusalem with the Jews, but in a few years becomes more than a Jewish movement. Multitudes of non-Jews claim to be followers of Jesus. Almost every major city, Jerusalem, Corinth, Athens, Damascus, Ephesus, Colossae, and even Rome, has weekly gatherings of people who worship Jesus. The world is dramatically changing.
As we put ourselves in Theophilus’ shoes, we need to remember that during the time Luke is writing, there is great opposition to Christianity. Everywhere a church springs up; there are those who oppose Jesus. Most of the resistance comes from the Jews. If the Jews reject Jesus as the Messiah, how do we know He is the Messiah? We will see that Luke will pay special attention to prove that Jesus is the Messiah according to Jewish prophecy.
In just a few years, Nero will begin killing Christians for sport. Luke’s truth becomes very important. Are you willing to die, saying that Jesus is the Savior of the world and worthy of worship?
What is fact and what is fiction? Is Jesus real? Are His miracles true? Is He who He claims to be? If so, how does this impact my life? How should I live? How should I worship? What does it mean to be a Christian?
There are hundreds of questions and Theophilus, and many like him, need answers.
Along comes Luke. Luke is trustworthy. He is articulate, well-educated, respected, full of integrity, and honorable. Luke knows a great deal about Jesus. He says that he commits his life to follow Jesus. Luke can answer all the questions about Jesus.
We don’t know how long he spent on writing his account, but it is now complete (the first half). Theophilus is given the original and immediately, scribes set to work to make copies. Luke’s account will be sent throughout the world.
Eagerly, we unroll the scroll and peer at the opening sentence.
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught. (Luke 1:1-4)
It is common for writers in the first century to begin their writings with a prologue. This one sentence at the beginning of Luke’s gospel, ought to warm the heart and touch the soul of all who desires to know Jesus. The reason it ought to touch our soul is the last statement, “so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.”
So that you may know
Luke reveals at the very end of his prologue the reason his gospel is written. His goal is simple and clear. Luke desires Theophilus, and all those who read his writing to know the exact truth.
By the time Luke writes his gospel, there are thousands upon thousands of Christians throughout the known world. Churches spring up daily. People are learning about Jesus. Gentiles are putting aside idol worship. Jews are leaving behind temple sacrifices and the Law.
It seems Theophilus, and many like him, sit under Christian teaching. We don’t know the extent of his understanding of Christianity. What we do know is that by the end of Luke’s gospel, he will know all he needs to know.
Luke tells his readers that the things they are taught are genuine. Jesus is not a fairy tale. Everything about Jesus is real. It’s the exact truth.
The truth about Jesus is life-changing to all who hear it. The truth of Jesus requires a response. One may not hear about Jesus and continue along unchanged. It’s impossible. Jesus says the truth sets us free.
Do you want to know the exact truth about Jesus? Do you want to compare what you have been taught to what God’s word says? If so, Luke’s gospel will satisfy your questions.
Luke undertakes one of the biggest battles Christianity faces, which is the battle for the truth. Today, we still struggle with people knowing the truth.
We live in what we call a Judeo-Christian culture. The laws and the way we live has deep roots in the Bible. The problem is that because we live in a Judeo-Christian culture, people think they know all there is to know about Christianity. The reality is most people do not know what Christianity is truly about. Unfortunately, most people don’t know the exact truth. We live in a culture where people misuse the Bible, even in churches. People think they are pleasing to God because they do good. People are taught that Jesus is a good teacher, but not God. Unfortunately, much of our Judeo-Christian culture is far from being Christian.
We will learn new things as we go through the gospel of Luke. The truth has a way of awakening our spirit to the things of God.
Theophilus needs the exact truth, and we need the exact truth.
Many have undertaken an account
Luke tells of how Theophilus has come to know and be taught about Jesus. There are many people who write about Jesus before Luke. It is believed James wrote his letter first. Next, about half of Paul’s letters to the churches are written. The gospels of Matthew and Mark are thought to be in circulation before Luke. There are many circulating documents in the church. Luke recognizes these accounts and gives them credibility.
Luke tells us that they are eyewitnesses. The most credible source for ancient historical accounts is an eyewitness. Eyewitness testimony in Luke’s day is different than ours. Historians consider that if a manuscript uses eyewitness accounts, it becomes a valuable source for understanding events. In a court of law today, eyewitness testimony is deemed to be admissible evidence.
Luke describes the writers of the accounts in existence as dedicated to the word of God! In other words, they are not out to make a profit or forward a personal agenda. They record the events being submissive to God. They can care less if their account is not received as popular. They care most that the God who judges the living and the dead will judge their writings.
Luke is acknowledging the required criteria for his work. Luke will also seek out eyewitness testimony. We will see this to be true with the account of Jesus’ birth. Only eyewitnesses would know the detail that Luke gives.
Luke is also letting us know that his concern is to honor God. He does not have a personal agenda. His account will fit in with the accounts already written. Luke is a servant of God’s word.
Think of how these truths impact us as we read Luke. We can know that Luke is seeking high-accuracy with credible testimony. Luke’s goal is that we know the truth about God. He is not going to try to manipulate us with false information. Luke seeks to honor God by giving us the truth.
Luke tells Theophilus of the methodology of his account. Like tells his readers that he investigated everything. Luke begins his account before the birth of Jesus, and he ends it when Jesus ascends into the cloud on His journey to heaven.
Luke is very careful to provide an account that is detailed. He puts his information in chronological order and tells of the different stages of Jesus’ ministry.
Luke wants his readers to know they can trust him. He is not being sloppy, nor is he telling a fable or mystical story. Luke writes the exact truth.
We call Luke’s account, the Gospel according to Luke. The word gospel literally means “good news.” Luke knows the truth about Jesus is good news to all who hear. It is the good news of God’s amazing love. It’s the good news that there is more to life than what we see; there is an after-life of eternal bliss that Jesus offers. Luke’s gospel is amazingly good news to the people of his time and the people today. This world needs to hear good news.
Luke is using his gifts for the sake of the truth. The gospel is handed down to Luke by others. He says that it seems fitting to him to investigate everything and write down his account so others will know. It’s the right thing to do. He doesn’t want to keep the good news to himself. He wants Theophilus and others to know the good news. He wants Theophilus to believe and have a right relationship with God.
What about you? Are you using your gifts to help others know about Jesus? Are you sharing with others the credible truth of God’s word? Do you want others to hear the truth?
We ought not to hide the news about Jesus. It is supremely important. People need to know about Jesus and His salvation. We need to use our gifts to share the truth with others. If you are not sure how to share the good news, ask for someone to teach you. Every person we know and every person we meet needs to know the truth. Ask people, “Do you want to know the truth about God? Do you want to know about God’s love? Have you heard about the resurrection?”
Luke believes it’s the right thing to do. We need to share Luke’s conviction. It is the right thing for us to do. We please God when we help others to know the truth about Jesus of Nazareth.
Theophilus is far removed from the 21st century. The fastest he travels is walking speed, chariot speed, or sailing speed. He likely speaks Aramaic and Greek. He lives somewhere in western Europe or eastern Asia.
However, Theophilus is not as far removed from us as we may think. We have more in common than we have not in common. He is a person. He has likes and dislikes. The problems he faces in the first century are very similar to ours. Together, we struggle with relationships. We are anxious about wars and conflict. We fight greed and coveting. We live in communities. We live with both good and evil. People take vengeance. There is far too much pride and far too little humility. The culture around us worships false gods and idols and has no tolerance for the things of the one True-God. We are made in the image of God.
The Bible and the book of Luke is not an ancient document for ancient people. It is God’s word for all people of all time.
Exact truth – not the culture’s truth!
We will be challenged to think in new ways. What we learn from Luke will be different than what we learn from television, radio, and the internet. We will learn that we need to be rescued, and Jesus is our Savior. Luke’s written account will emphasize that those who believe Jesus Christ is the Savior, whether Jew or Gentile, receive salvation and the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit.
Jesus is the center!
The gospel account from Luke encompasses a vast range of material from the life of Jesus. Luke gives proof that Jesus is the Son of Man, God in the flesh, with eyewitness testimony to His life, death, and resurrection.
What we will learn as we go through this book is that Jesus is at the center of every work of God in the history of this world. Jesus is God’s plan from the beginning to the end! Jesus holds the answer to our every desire. He will satisfy our soul. To follow Jesus is to be at the center of God’s will. We are most pleasing in the eyes of our Creator when Jesus is pleasing in our eyes.
Main idea: Believe Luke
All we need to do today is believe what Luke writes is true. We can put our faith in the exact truth of God’s word.
- When Luke writes that Jesus is born of a virgin, believe it is the exact truth.
- Luke will tell us that Jesus is the fulfillment of prophecy written hundreds of years before Jesus is born. Believe it is the exact truth.
- When Luke writes that Jesus is God, believe it is the exact truth.
In this book, we will learn who we are and who God wants us to be. We learn how to serve God. It includes topics such as money, race relations, genders, anxiety, persecution, and what it means to pick up our cross and follow Christ. Luke teaches us how to respond to the world when the world rejects Christ.
Luke will help us see Jesus is God’s purpose and plan for us. Our relationship with God centers on Christ. The better we know God and our Savior, the better we will know our calling and God’s work and purpose in our life. We also learn from Luke about God’s provision of His Holy Spirit to guide us and empower us to live up to our calling.
If you don’t know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, can I urge you to believe He came to save you? Talk to me or someone else. Be sure to continue with us as we go through this book which claims to be the truth. There is a lot said about “fake news” in this culture. This is good news, not fake news. It is the most important truth you may know.
If you do know Jesus, be encouraged. Luke’s gospel reminds us that if we know Christ, and we are following Him, we are right where we ought to be. Our faith will deepen as we look at the exact truth of God’s plan, wisdom, love, and sovereignty.