LUKE, THE CHRONICLER OF JESUS, SON OF MAN
“So many others have tried their hand at putting together a story of the wonderful harvest of Scripture and history that took place among us, using reports handed down by the original eyewitnesses who served this Word with their very lives. Since I have investigated all the reports in close detail, starting from the story’s beginning, I decided to write it all out for you, most honourable Theophilus, so you can know beyond a shadow of a doubt the reality of what you were taught.” Luke 1:1-4.
Luke was a Gentile, possibly a Greek or a Roman, who was acquainted with Theophilus, a Roman, judging by his name, of high rank, either socially or as a government official somewhere. He was a follower of Jesus but he needed the anchor of an authentic record of the life of the one he had chosen to follow. Luke undertook the task, researching and writing as accurately as possible, using the verbal and written reports of eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life, but of those who themselves believed in Him.
Luke was only one among many, according to him, who had undertaken this task, but it was his work that made its way into the canon of Scripture. While he used the work of others, it was his that was “God-breathed” and acknowledged as inspired. It would be a fascinating story of how a document written for only one man, made its way into the public eye and eventually into the New Testament. Did Theophilus share Luke’s story with family and friends, with work colleagues and social acquaintances? Did Luke show his gospel to Paul? Did Paul circulate copies to the churches because he recognised the value of Luke’s work?
This side of eternity we will never know but God designed this book to be part of the written witness to the life of His Son. It is part of the four-fold fulfilment of the prophetic picture of Messiah represented in the four faces of the living creatures around the throne of God. Matthew presents Jesus as the King of the Jews, the fulfilment of Messianic prophecy, symbolised by the face of a lion (Ezekiel 1:10; Rev 4:7). Mark’s picture of Jesus is that of a servant, symbolised by the face of an ox. Luke portrays Jesus as the Son of Man, symbolised by the face of a man, and John the exalted Son of God represented by the flying eagle.
Luke’s purpose was to present Jesus as the Son of Man, not just the human Jesus, but the Messiah, the God-man who was anointed by the Holy Spirit to be the link between heaven and earth; God in human form, weak, vulnerable, ordinary, yet extraordinary in His nature and function, filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit to be a perfect man and a perfect sacrifice. He was true man, yet more than a man. He was true God, veiled in a human body to live out a real human life and to die a real human death so that we can be reconnected to God.
Luke’s research and writing skill has left us with an incomparable record of aspects of Jesus’ birth, glimpses into His childhood and His short public life, and examples of His matchless teaching which are recorded nowhere else in Scripture. Together with the other gospel writers we have a fully rounded and comprehensive record, not of every detail of Jesus’ life, but of the witness He left by His life and death to His reason for coming – a revelation of the Father through His miracles, His life and His teaching and His death and resurrection.
Luke’s story would be incomplete without the other gospels, yet in his writing he presents a very ordinary person, a man of prayer and dependence on the Father, who lived an extraordinary life and accomplished extraordinary things because He was empowered and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit that fell on the church on the day of Pentecost and empowers us to live the same life He lived.