- Jeff Hay
Keys to Teaching Christ in Luke
Luke’s gospel has some of the most familiar stories known to people, from the parable of The Prodigal Son to the birth of Jesus preached on every Christmas, or at least every other Christmas! We are familiar with parts of it, and yet being the longest book in the New Testament, is all of it worth preaching?
Well, the beauty of the stories and the central, yet varied, theme of salvation makes this gospel such a gem to be explored and expounded. Since the Gospel of Luke has been described as the Gospel of the Gentiles, perhaps its relevance to the outsider and the less biblically literate make it even more appealing today.
Luke 2:30-32 – Simeon taking Jesus in his arms rejoices that his ‘eyes have seen your salvation’ – and it is ‘a light for revelation to the Gentiles.’
Luke 9:51 – Jesus mission is to go to the cross, setting His face towards Jerusalem (10:38, 13:22, 17:11, 18:31).
Luke 19:10 – He went to the cross for the purpose of seeking and saving the lost.
Luke 24:44-47 – This concluding key passage, encompasses many of the gospel’s major themes. From the fulfilment of scripture, to the necessity of Jesus’ death and resurrection, which means that the forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed to all nations.
Salvation is for all – Salvation in Luke’s gospel is the key theme and is emphasized in different ways. For Luke, it means God’s acceptance and forgiveness of sinners to those who are ‘lost’. The lost include the outcasts, the poor, tax collectors and sinners and the marginalised in society.
Salvation is based on truth - Luke emphasizes the historical reliability of his gospel which is written based on eyewitness reports. He includes specific details, people and place names in order to prove the certainty of the Christian faith.
Salvation as fulfilment - Luke highlights that God’s plan of salvation is coming to fulfilment in Jesus, and his unique recording of the journey to Emmaus affirms this point at the end of the gospel.
The Holy Spirit’s role in salvation – The Spirit is present in the gospel from the beginning, from the births of John the Baptist and Jesus, to His presence at His baptism and His anointing of Jesus (4:18) to proclaim the good news. The book of Acts (Luke part 2), continues with the Holy Spirit’s role in bringing salvation to the ends of the earth.
Necessity of the cross for salvation – Luke presents Jesus as headed towards Jerusalem, first mentioned in chapter 9 and yet he does not reach Jerusalem until chapter 19. This emphasis on heading to Jerusalem is to highlight ‘that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead’ (Luke 24:46). This is our only hope for salvation.
Luke, by Darrell L. Bock in the Baker Exegetical Commentary is excellent for exegetical purposes.
Luke, NIV application commentary, by Bock is also helpful for preaching purposes.
Luke for Everyone’, by Tom Wright, gives some real helpful nuggets on the main thrust of a narrative section.
Luke, Tyndale New Testament’, by Leon Morris is another helpful beginners level commentary.
Luke’s gospel presents Jesus as the Saviour of the World, who offers forgiveness and hope to all. Therefore, this gospel, which has rich narrative and wonderful parables, is ideally placed to be useful in evangelistic preaching in today’s culture where the use of story is so helpful. Luke’s emphasis on God’s love that reaches far and wide to ‘sinners’, as opposed to the ‘religious’, is still a necessary one to be proclaimed today. The Gospel is worth preaching because both believers and unbelievers would miss out on the unique wonder and beauty of Jesus.