KEY VERSE FOR MEMORIZATION
“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11)
The Book of Luke was written to Theophilus, a Gentile who is believed to have been interested in the teachings of the Christian faith; his name means “one who loves God.” Luke, the author of this Gospel, was a skilled writer and historian as well as an educated physician. He was also a Greek — the only Gentile among the writers of the Gospels — so he could identify with the perspectives of Gentile readers. His writings helped Christians in the Gentile churches to better understand Jesus, His life, and His mission on earth.
As a friend and traveling companion of Paul the Apostle, Luke had access to the Apostles and close friends of Jesus, and no doubt their firsthand reports and recollections were the basis for much of his writings. Luke gives more detail than any other Gospel writer concerning the birth and early life of Christ.
The universal scope of Christ’s message is brought out in the Gospel of Luke in a variety of ways. For example, Luke’s genealogy of Jesus in chapter 3 goes back to Adam (the father of all mankind), rather than only to Abraham (the father of the Jewish nation), as Matthew’s did. Heli, mentioned at the beginning of the genealogical list, was likely Joseph’s father-in-law, so this ancestral record traces the family line of Mary, and may have been received personally from her.
The Book of Luke highlights Jesus’ compassion toward those considered unimportant in Jewish society, such as women, children, those in poverty, and social outcasts. In these first chapters, Luke detailed how Christ’s birth took place in lowly circumstances — in an area housing animals. It was to humble shepherds that the angels proclaimed their joyous message, and those shepherds had the privilege of meeting in person the tiny Babe who came as the Savior of the whole world.
Another notable feature of Luke’s Gospel is the emphasis on the humanity of Jesus. In chapters 1 and 2, Luke gave a detailed account of Jesus’ birth by an earthly woman, and provided the only glimpse in Scripture of Jesus’ boyhood. In chapter 4, Luke recounted how Jesus experienced hunger after fasting for forty days, and then was subjected to temptation from Satan. In addition, he gave details about how Jesus overcame temptation, providing an example for His followers throughout the ages since.
Luke alluded frequently to the Holy Spirit. For example, he explained Jesus’ conception by relating the angel’s assertion to Mary, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee” (Luke 1:35). At Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan, the Holy Spirit appeared as a dove while the Father spoke from Heaven, beautifully depicting the Holy Trinity.
The text of this lesson includes words that have been woven into some of the greatest songs of all Christendom: Mary’s song in Luke 1:46-55, often called the Magnificat (the first word of the Latin translation of this passage); the Benedictus or Song of Zacharias in Luke 1:68-79, and Gloria in Excelsis, which begins with the words the angels sang when Jesus’ birth was announced to shepherds in Luke 2:14.
Luke’s description of John’s prophetic role, his baptism of Jesus, and Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, help us understand that these events were all part of the divine preparation for Jesus’ ministry and His role as Savior of the world.