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When Luke wrote his Gospel and Acts of the Apostles, he was intent on persuading Theophilus, a Roman Official, to believe that Jesus was God’s Christ. Because of this aim, he took great pains to be accurate in his detail and to order his material in the shape of the apostles’ gospel, preached to the nations.
Luke was a friend, travelling companion and doctor to the Apostle Paul. This ideally placed him to be able to interview many witnesses of Jesus’ ministry, to consult with many preachers, as well as check many of the writings about Jesus circulating at that time.
We would expect a person with these qualifications and his profession to be able to deliver a good product… And that is the opinion of modern-day experts in the field of New Testament scholarship and early church history.
One subject that interests government officials like Theophilus is good government and peace. It is therefore not surprising to see that peace is one important theme in Luke’s gospel. When Jesus is born in Bethlehem the heavenly host announces “peace on earth”. When Jesus enters Jerusalem to die and rise the pilgrims chorus “peace in heaven”. When Jesus’ approaches Jerusalem we see him weeping over the city because they knew not “the things that make for peace”. He then prophesied a terrible destruction of the city. This prophecy was fulfilled in 70 A.D.
Reading Luke’s Gospel with prayer to receive and grow in God’s peace in Jesus would be one among many good reasons for spending significant time “looking to Jesus with Luke”.
I wonder if you would like to take up the challenge of reading the whole of Luke’s gospel in the church season of Lent in 2020? Not all church traditions are good, and Jesus was scathing in criticism of those who kept them to the point of denying God’s Word. Some however are very helpful if kept in the right Spirit. The church season of Lent is one such tradition. Some people have trivialised Lent by saying they are giving up chocolate or such things. Others however have made it a season of the Word and Prayer, asking God by his Spirit to refresh their lives and witness in Christ. I am suggesting the latter for first term.
At St Michael’s, many plan to do this Bible reading challenge to help us collectively read through Luke during Lent (you will find a bookmark with the plan inside the church bulletin this Sunday 9 February). My book, The Things that Make for Peace, has been specifically designed an additional resource for this exercise, with a comment on each daily reading, and an appropriate prayer. You can purchase this devotional book after church or via the church office for $12, or online at cepstore.com.au. It is also available on Apple Books and Amazon Kindle for $8.99.
In addition, there will be opportunities to hear a sermon series in Luke ‘Jesus is a Peacemaker’ at St Michael’s from 23 February to 12 April (at 8am & 9:30am); or ‘The Things That Make for Peace’ at the Wednesday Lunch Time Bible Talks in Wollongong Town Hall from 19 February to 8 April (12:45pm to 1:15pm). For further information, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Reg Piper
Senior Assistant Minister