The Gospel of Luke was written by Luke, a physician and companion of Paul on his missionary journeys in the Book of Acts. Luke also wrote Acts, which chronologically follows his Gospel account.
Luke was not one of Jesus’ original 12 disciples, but his Gospel account was meticulously and orderly collected from eyewitness interviews with those who knew and followed Jesus during His time on earth (Luke 1:1-3).
Luke’s Gospel is considered the “universal Gospel.” Luke himself was a Gentile, and though he addresses a man named Theophilus (Luke 1:3-4) as his intended audience, his Gospel was written with all humanity in mind.
Luke wrote his Gospel to show that Jesus is the fulfilment of God’s covenant promises to Abraham and his family, the people of Israel, and to the whole world, beginning with the first two chapters, which recount the divinely-ordained births of Jesus and John the Baptist, who prepared the way for Jesus.
In chapters 3 to 9, Jesus lives out example after example of His reason for coming to earth, which He explains in Luke 4:18-19:
“‘“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”’”
In this passage, Jesus is reading from Isaiah 61:1-2, and He later proclaims that this Scripture has been fulfilled. The Messiah has come, and His name is Jesus.
Luke intentionally includes passages like this, as well as parables like the Prodigal Son, several miraculous healings, Jesus’ encounters with people like Levi, the tax collector, and a sinful woman. Each of these stories display Jesus’ compassion for the “least of these.”
Not only that, but Jesus explains that being in God’s Kingdom is not marked by a life of religiosity, but one of humility, radical generosity, forgiveness, servant leadership and obedience to God that rejects religious hypocrisy.
Of course, not everyone is happy with Jesus’ message. Like the other Gospels, Luke writes of the opposition Jesus faces from the Jewish religious leaders, who eventually sentence Him to death.
But Jesus knows that He came to bring God’s Kingdom to earth, and He knows that He must suffer and die to take on the punishment for the world’s sin by dying on a cross in Jerusalem.
Chapters 10 to 19 recount Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem. Jesus continues to preach this radical Good News, and this section of the book focuses on Jesus’ teachings to His followers while traveling to Jerusalem.
Jesus finally arrives in Jerusalem at the end of chapter 19. In Chapters 20 to 23, Luke details the events leading up to Jesus’ death, including the cleansing of the Temple, the Last Supper and His arrest and trial.
In Luke’s account of the crucifixion, he continues to emphasize Jesus’ compassion for the lost. Jesus’ last words are words of forgiveness, both for those who kill Him and for one of the men being crucified next to Him (Luke 23:32-43).
Luke ends with Jesus’ victorious resurrection and His ascension back to heaven.
Right before Jesus leaves, He promises to send His disciples His own Spirit, so they can take the Good News into all the world.
Fulfilled prophecy: Luke emphasizes Jesus as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. From His birth to His death and many other events in between, Luke alludes to Old Testament Scriptures to show that Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s covenant with the people of Israel, which now extends to the whole world.
Loving the least, last and lost: More than any other Gospel, Luke emphasizes Jesus’ love for the least healthy and wealthy, the last in line and all who are lost without Him. Luke highlights Jesus’ compassion for the poor and needy, as well as those of low social status (like the disabled, women, children and the elderly), and His deep and driving concern for all who are trapped in the bondage of sin.
Luke 1-3 • Luke 6:12-49 • Luke 15
HOW DOES THIS FIT INTO GOD’S STORY?
Luke presents a Gospel account for everyone. Though all of the Gospels teach valuable, life-transforming truths about who Jesus is and what He came to do, Luke presents Jesus as a Savior for the lowly, lost, destitute and hopeless, who loves the least of these and calls His followers to do the same.
Throughout these accounts, Luke emphasizes the key difference in those who follow Jesus and those who reject Him: repentance. Those who repent of their sins are welcomed into Jesus’ eternal Kingdom.