Each of the four Gospels present Jesus in a slightly different light. Luke walks the fine line of emphasising Jesus’ humanity while also calling him Saviour.
Luke wanted to make sure that we saw not just the Divinity of Jesus, although that’s present, but Jesus walking among us, getting dirt under his fingernails, comforting those who hurt, and helping those abandoned by others. Jesus interacts with humans as one of us. Luke emphasises the social interactions of Jesus.
In particular Luke highlights Jesus’ care for at least four groups marginalised (at a minimum) by the so-called righteous Jews of his day.
1. Samaritans and Gentiles. These people don’t care about the Torah and worship their own gods in their own temples. Any law abiding Jew that comes in contact with them must go through a purification process before they can again worship at the Temple. Yet Luke describes Jesus rubbing elbows with them! But he even includes a story of Jesus called “The Good Samaritan”. That’s the definition of an oxymoron to most Jews.
2. Tax Collectors and Sinners. Sinners are easy to identify. They’re the Jews who turned their back on their faith and their heritage. Some of them even became Romans! In chapter 15 Jesus describes one perfectly in the story of the Lost Son. He turned his back on everything he should value and partied like it was still BC!! Then there’s the tax collectors. Regarded as traitors, these men such as Zacchaeus, rob their countrymen giving some of their “taxes” to Rome and keeping the rest for themselves. Yet again, Luke tells of Jesus forgiving these people. After all the hurt they’ve caused and sins they’ve committed, Jesus just says, “You’re forgiven, let me throw a party for you.”
3. Women. Luke goes to great lengths to make sure he includes women in his stories. Jesus may have heard the prayer that later generations of Jewish men recite each morning,
“Blessed are You, Lord our God, Sovereign of the Universe, who has not made me a gentile. Blessed are You, Lord our god, Sovereign of the Universe, who has not made me a slave. Blessed are You, Lord our God, Sovereign of the Universe, who has not made me a woman. Blessed are You, Lord our God, Sovereign of the Universe, who removes sleep from my eyes and slumber from my eyelids…” (Dig Deeper HERE.)
Yet Luke shows Jesus demonstrating a different attitude. At the start of chapter 8 we find a group of women traveling with Jesus like they’re his disciples.( Goodness only knows the scandals that launched.) In chapter 10 he praises Mary’s devotion to his teaching even while she neglects her womanly responsibilities in the kitchen with Martha. Then in chapter 15 Jesus describes God himself as a woman who first loses then finds some coins.
4. Poor, Hungry & Diseased Chapter 16 tells a story where the rich man goes to hell and the beggar goes to Paradise. That’s certainly counter-cultural. I wonder what Theophilus and his friends thought of that? We also see Jesus’ care for the diseased and suffering in the various accounts of healings throughout the Gospel.
It’s not that the other Gospels don’t contain similar (or the same) events, but Luke has a concentration of these encounters not found in any other single Gospel.
Jesus didn’t become human for fun, he came to make a difference.
Luke describes Jesus as Saviour and teaches salvation while the other Gospel authors don’t use the word “save” at all. In chapter 7 Luke details Jesus’ interactions with a Gentile, a mourning woman, and a sinful woman. As significant as those encounters are just because Jesus talked with these people, he did much more than just talk. He healed. He resurrected. He forgave. He saved each person from their immediate distress.
As Luke concludes the story of Jesus’ encounter with the tax-collector Zacchaeus, he wrote in chapter 19:10 what might be the key verse for his book (Maybe you’d like to memorise it.) “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” Jesus didn’t just come to find the lost. He came to save the lost.
At Lawson Road we use the word Rescue as part of our LR-cubed mission: Rescue, Reconcile, Renew. Rescue is just another way of saying “save”. Luke teaches some important principles about our rescue mission.
- No one is off limits. The people you don’t like talking to. The people others don’t like you talking to. The people you know well. They all need Jesus. They all need rescue. But I wonder, “Is anyone off limits to you? Are there people you don’t want to talk to, let alone invite them to church?“
- Jesus spent a lot of time with needy people, and he didn’t just talk theology with them. Jesus sought out and helped needy people. How do you help the hurting and hungry?
- Jesus is our Savior not because he feeds us, but because he died for us. He saves us from eternal death and gives us eternal life. That is the ultimate message of Good News that Luke, and Jesus, wants us to hear. It doesn’t matter if you’re a slave, a gentile, a woman or a sinner, Jesus knows us and can save us all. But the first step we have to take is to acknowledge that we’re lost.