A Commentary on the Gospel of Luke
The Gospel of Luke was written by a medical doctor named Luke. Luke was a traveling companion of the Apostle Paul. He was a non-Jewish writer and a scholarly historian. His purpose was to present a historically accurate account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, and to present it in such a way that Jesus was seen as a perfect Savior who felt compassion especially for downtrodden people.
The emphasis in Luke is on the perfect humanity of Jesus. He is presented as the Son of Man, the human yet the perfect and divine Person. Matthew traces Jesus' genealogy back to Abraham, the father of the Jews (Matthew 1:2). Luke traces the genealogy back to Adam, the father of the human race (Luke 3:38). In Luke, Jesus is portrayed as a Man with great compassion for all people. In Matthew, Jesus sends His disciples to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matthew 10:6); Luke omits that limitation.
There is much material found in Luke that is not contained in the other Gospel records. Luke refers to six miracles not named in the other Gospels—including the miraculous drought of fish (5:1-11), the raising of the widow of Nain's son (7:11-15), the cleansing of ten lepers (17:11-19), and the healing of the wounded ear of Malchus (22:50-51). Also, Luke names seventeen parables not described in the other Gospels—including the Good Samaritan (10:25-37), the rich fool and his barns (12:16-21), the builder who did not count the cost to finish his building (14:28-30), and the Pharisee and the publican (18:9-14).
Luke's Gospel is filled with sympathy and tender appeals to outcasts and to downtrodden people. Luke tells about the man aided by the Good Samaritan, the misery of the prodigal son, and the friend asking for bread at midnight. Women and children receive a prominent place in Luke's account. Luke mentions at least thirteen women not referred to in the other three Gospels—including Elizabeth, Anna, the woman with ten silver coins, and Joanna. In Luke, the reader learns about the childhood of Jesus, the widow of Nain, the sisters Mary and Martha, and the visit of Mary to the home of Elizabeth.
Luke is often considered the most interesting Gospel to read. One never grows tired of reading about the visits of the angel in connection with the humble birth of Jesus. All enjoy contrasting the personalities of Mary and Martha, the two sisters who lived in the village of Bethany. Luke is more interested in persons (especially those in trouble) than he is in ideas. Luke speaks about the small man Zacchaeus (19:1-10), the penitent thief (23:39-43), the contrite publican (18:9-14), and the one thankful leper (17:11-19).
After the introduction in chapters 1-4, where Luke informs the reader about Jesus' birth, childhood, ancestry, baptism, and temptation—he tells about Jesus' ministry in Galilee (chapters 4-9), His ministry on the way to Jerusalem, by way of Perea (chapters 10-19), and His arrest, death, and resurrection in Jerusalem (chapters 20-24).
The concluding words in Luke's Gospel assure the disciples of Jesus that He has indeed ascended into heaven. "He blessed them" and was "parted from them and carried up into heaven" (Luke 24:51). Writing sometime later in the book of Acts, Luke quotes the words of the angels, when they said, "This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11). It is no wonder that the disciples had returned to Jerusalem with joy!