“Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us…” Luke uses his introduction to inform the reader of his purpose and method in writing this gospel. Luke seeks to write an orderly account of the things that have been taught, based on the testimony of eyewitnesses. His motive: so that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. In other words, there are a lot of stories out there about Jesus, and Luke has set out to establish their credibility, and bring order to the narrative.
The “you” in the above sentence is Theophilus. The name means “Friend of God” or “One who loves God,” and its owner is impossible to pin down. Some ancient traditions assign it to a prominent Jew in Alexandria; others to a Roman official; still others to a priest or a group of priests. Perhaps Theophilus is a metaphor for a group of believers to whom Luke provides a definitive record of Jesus’ life.
The opening chapters go further than other gospels into the life of Mary’s family and into the birth and childhood of Jesus. The story begins not with Mary or Joseph, but with Elizabeth, a cousin of Mary and wife of a priest, who were both righteous before God…but they had no child. The miraculous surrounds the birth stories of both Elizabeth and Mary, causing observers to witness that the hand of the Lord was with them.
Pay close attention, in chapter 2, to the visits to the Temple. Whereas Matthew rooted Jesus’ advent in the prophecies of the past, Luke introduces Simeon, who peers into the future when he holds the infant Jesus: “My eyes have seen your salvation, that you prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light of revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel… Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed… so that the thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
Our verse for this week is Micah 6:8: He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Luke chapters 1 and 2. Now let’s read it!
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?