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The Gospel of Luke is generally regarded as a literary masterpiece among New Testament books. Here one finds some of the finest Greek in the New Testament. While the Gospels have much in common, almost a third of the Gospel according to Luke is peculiar to itself, including six miracles, eighteen parables, and a great deal of discourse material.
AUTHOR: The two books attributed to Luke (Luke and Acts) make up about 28% of the Greek New Testament. Luke, the "beloved physician" and the traveling companion of the apostle Paul, is not mentioned by name in either book. The only places where his name occurs in the New Testament are in Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:11; and Philemon 1:24. Luke also referred to himself directly in the "we" sections of Acts (16:10-17; 20:5-21; 27:1-28:16). Just when he became a Christian is unknown.
Luke seems to have been the only Gentile writer of the New Testament. Paul wrote that, of his fellow-workers, Aristarchus, Mark and John were the only ones who were Jewish. The others (Epaphras, Luke, and Demas) were therefore probably Gentiles. Paul referred to Luke as a physician (Col. 4:14), and evidence from passages in Luke and Acts seem to corroborate this.
BACKGROUND: Luke was a historian who carefully researched his material (Luke 1:1-4). He consulted eyewitnesses for information ( Luke 1:2). He may have gathered certain details, such as facts on Jesus' birth and youth from Mary herself (cf. 2:51). Luke also seemed to have had contacts with the Herodian court (cf. Luke 3:1, 19; 8:3; 9:7-9; 13:31; 23:7-12). All of Luke's writing was done under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE BOOK:
Key Verse: Luke 19:10
Key Word: "Son of Man"
The term "Son of man" is used 26 times. It speaks of more than just the Lord's humanity in contrast to His deity, "Son of God." It means He is the perfect, ideal Man, the true representative of the whole human race.
Other characteristics of Luke that set it apart from Matthew and Mark would include:
The book covers about a 35 year span from the annunciation of the birth of John the Baptist to Zacharias to the ascension of our Lord.
PURPOSE: Luke was able to achieve several accomplishments in writing the book:
1. He was able to present an accurate account of the facts about the life of Christ, and confirm to Theophilus that his faith in Christ rested on firm historical fact (1:3-4).
2. Luke presented Christ as the perfect God-Man, who after a period of perfect ministry provided a perfect salvation for sinful humanity.
3. He presented a universal Christ. The gospel is not anti-Jewish, but it does aim to confirm the faith of Greeks.
4. Others have suggested secondary purposes such as: (a) to give a defense of Christianity; (b) to prepare a brief for use in Paul's trials; (c) to prepare a gospel account for missionary purposes.
THE RECIPIENTS. The book along with Acts of Apostles is addressed to Theophilus (meaning "lover of God" or "loved by God") Luke 1:3. Evidently he was a high official because of the title "most excellent" (compare Acts 23:26; 24:3; 26:25). The Gospel was, of course, meant for more than just his private reading. Luke wrote for a Greek audience.
GENTILE CHARACTER OF THE BOOK
Several lines of evidence point to the conclusion that Luke wrote primarily for Gentiles.
(2) Luke traces Jesus's genealogy (Luke 3:23-38) all the way back to Adam (rather than to Abraham, as in Matthew's Gospel). The implication is that Jesus was representing all mankind rather than just the Jewish nation.
(3) Luke referred to Roman emperors in designating the dates of Jesus' birth (Luke 2:1) and of John preaching (Luke 3:1).
(4) Fourth, Luke used a number of words which would be more familiar to Gentile readers than the comparable Jewish terms found in Matthew's Gospel. An example is Luke's use of the Greek "didaskalos" rather than "rabbi" for "teacher".
(5) Luke used the Septuagint when quoting from the Old Testament. He has relatively few direct quotations, though the book is filled with allusions.
(6) Little is said about Jesus' fulfilling prophecies because that theme was not as important to Gentile readers as it was to Jewish readers. Luke has only five direct references to fulfillment of prophecy and all but one (Luke 3:4) are found in the teaching of Jesus to Israel.
1. Jesus set his face for Jerusalem -- 9:51
2. The entrance into Jericho -- a beautiful city of importance.
I. THINGS THAT HINDERED
A. His job -- Luke 19:2b he was a chief publican
B. His riches -- Luke 19:2c "and he was rich"
. . 1) Different ways of being rich (I Cor. 4:8)
. . 2) I Tim. 6:17-18; Rev. 2:9
C. The crowd -- Luke 19:3 "he could not for the press"
D. His statue -- v.3 "for he was little of stature"
. . 1) Different way of being little --
. . 2) 1 Sam. 15:17; I Kings 3:7; 2 Kings 5:2; I Cor. 5:6
II. THINGS THAT HELPED
A. His desire -- Luke 19:3a "and he sought to see Jesus"
B. His determination -- Luke 19:4a "and he ran before"
C. His dexterity -- "and climbed up into a sycamore tree"
. . 1) If God made him short, it was God also who made the sycamore three so he could see.
. . 2) Nature -- the tree; Ps. 19:1
III. THINGS THAT HAPPENED
A. The call -- Luke 19:5 Christ called him and he replied
B. The comply -- Luke 19:6 The Lord went home with him.
C. The criticism -- Luke 19:7 the people murmured
D. The conversion --
. . 1) We see repentance and restitution
. . 2) We see Zacchaeus's surrender
. . 3) We see a picture of the power of Christ to change a life
. . 4) We see him called a son of Abraham
1. Look at the changes that came into the life of Zacchaeus
2. Look at the way the Jews looked at Zacchaeus ( Luke 19:7) and the way Jesus looked at him ( Luke 19:9b)
3. Think of the people who would have considered it beneath their dignity to go home with Zacchaeus but Jesus did.
4. Jesus knew Zacchaeus and called him by name ( Luke 19:5)-- don't you think He knows us too...
5. Will you respond like Zacchaeus did?