Tuesday March 26, 2019
Today’s Focus Themes in the Gospel of Luke
Today’s Scripture Reading Luke 1 New Living Translation (NLT)
1 Many people have set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among us. 2 They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples. 3 Having carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I also have decided to write an accurate account for you, most honorable Theophilus, 4 so you can be certain of the truth of everything you were taught.
Daily Reflection Excerpts from R. Allan Culpepper on Themes from the Gospel of Luke
God’s Redemptive Purposes Revealed
“Luke sets the life of Jesus both in its historical context and in a theological context. All that happens in the Gospel is ultimately a part of God’s redemptive plan for the salvation of all humanity.” “The preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles is a direct consequence and outworking of the purposes of God that guided Jesus, but will not be fulfilled until the coming of the Son of Man in glory.”
- Salvation for All Alike
“Perhaps Luke’s most dramatic insight is his perception that Jesus announced salvation for all people alike. Although Jesus’ initiatives toward all persons regardless of their social standing are a common feature of all the Gospels, not other Gospel is so clear and emphatic on this point.” Gentile Christians, Jewish Christians, Sinners, Samaritans, Women, are all specifically and intentionally included among those for whom the coming of the kingdom is good news and points to the inauguration of a new community in which freedom, dignity, and equality may be realized.
- The Blessings of Poverty and the Dangers of Wealth
“The poor are also prominent in Luke. Just as Jesus habitually associates with tax collectors and sinners, so he also declares God’s vindication of the poor and divine judgment upon the rich. Popular theology in this day and age held that the rich were blessed of God, but Jesus turned popular theology on it head, maintaining that God would lift up the poor and cast out the rich.”
- Table Fellowship
“One of the most characteristic settings for the ministry of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke is the meal scene. Jesus eats with tax collectors and sinners, with Pharisees, with the crowd, and with disciples. Here then is the heart of Luke’s thinking: After investigating everything carefully, Luke has found that he recognizes “the truth concerning the things about which we have been instructed” when memory of the actions and teachings of Jesus’ ministry is enlightened by the Scriptures and reenacted in the hospitality and table fellowship of the community of believers.”
- The Role of a Disciple
Christology and discipleship are always connected. How one understands the role of Jesus as the Christ shapes one’s understanding of discipleship. Luke softens the critique of disciples (in comparison to other gospels). Jesus is the model for the disciples to imitate. He is empowered by the Spirit, He is compassionate toward the poor and oppressed, He heals and forgives, He prayers, and He dies a model martyr’s death. The disciples are called with an unconditional, absolute, person-centered call: “Follow me.” Appropriately this gospel will end on a note of blessing and doxology.”
- The importance of an Accurate Witness
Reading the Gospel of Luke
“The study of the Gospel according to Luke is a richly rewarding experience. Luke is a good storyteller and has the penetrating insight of a prophet. As a result, the Gospel is engaging and offers a perspective on the redemptive events of Jesus’ ministry. It continually calls the Christian community to model more fully Jesus’ concern for the oppressed, the overlooked, and the outcast. The kingdom community is one in which the social barriers that divide and exclude are torn down and God’s grace can begin to flow to and among the wealthy and the poor, the sick and the self-righteous, the powerful and the excluded. The study and teaching of such a Gospel can serve to actualize in individuals and in congregations the redemptive purposes of God that guided Jesus’ ministry and resulted in His death and resurrection. If the Spirit empowered the witness of this Gospel, then by opening ourselves to it we may also be guided by God’s Spirit to be a part of God’s ongoing redemptive work. The study of the Gospel, therefore, calls us to see the sights and hear the words of Jesus’ ministry as if we had been among the eyewitnesses, to grasp Luke’s distinctive perspective on the person and work of Jesus, and to see the implications of the Gospel for the times and circumstances in which we live.”
Above comments excerpted from “The New Interpreter’s Bible, Volume IX”, Abingdon Press, Nashville, Tennessee 1995 (pages 20-30)
Some questions for reflection
- Based on what you read above; is there anything that Culpepper cites in Luke’s gospel that surprised you?
- As we prepare now to work our way through the gospel of Luke, what theme/themes do you think your heart will be searching for?
- Are you excited to re-read this gospel? Why or why not
Today’s discipleship challenge
Again, share your thoughts on the above questions with your group or a trusted friend.
Almighty God, by our baptism into the death and resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ, You turn us from the old life of sin. Grant that we who are reborn to new life in Him may live in righteousness and holiness all our days, through Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.