Luke’s Gospel is book one in a two-book set. The book of Acts is the companion volume (also from the pen of Luke) and it continues the story after the ascension of Jesus, looking at the life of the early church.
All the earliest traditions agree that the author was Luke, a doctor who was a companion of Paul on his journeys. His aim was to write an account of Jesus’ life that was historically accurate, and that communicated with non-Jewish readers (Luke was a Gentile himself).
As Luke collected the stories about Jesus and started to write them into his Gospel, he was especially concerned to show how Jesus had loved and cared for the poor and the weak in society. It was them, rather than the rich and powerful, who were closest to receiving the good news. Here are Jesus’s first public words:
Three groups of people especially stand out in Luke’s Gospel…
The poor – Jesus reverses the order of social priorities where the rich are VIPs and the poor don’t matter. Instead, the rich are challenged to give up a way of life that makes it impossible for them to enter the kingdom of God. In one famous incident, Zacchaeus, a rich and corrupt taxman, finds salvation only when he has given half his possessions to the poor, and has promised Jesus that he will pay back with interest the people he’s cheated.
The outcasts – Jesus was infamous for mixing with the immoral and criminal elements in society. He defended himself by saying these were the people who most needed his help. Luke puts a spotlight on Jesus mixing with people who were despised in his time: taxmen (who were hated for their greed and for working for the Roman occupiers); the Samaritans (an outcast racial group) and lepers (who were feared and driven out of the community).
Women – In Jesus’s day, women were seen as inferior to men. They weren’t allowed to testify in court, and no one bothered to educate them. Luke’s Gospel shows how Jesus treated women differently, by educating them and treating women in need with care and compassion.
Luke is also famous for its emphasis on the Spirit in the life of Jesus, for its teaching on prayer and for its graphic stories of the resurrection of Jesus.
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The Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – are the first four books of the New Testament. All of them tell the story of Jesus’s life, and like four witnesses to an event, they each have a different angle on what happened, and what it all means.
You can read and print out complete copies of all of the four Gospels. The Bible version is the Contemporary English Version (CEV). Used with permission from Bible Society. Full copies of the CEV Bible can be ordered by clicking here.
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