I’ve been reading Luke recently – the account of the life of Jesus – written by one disciple (Luke) for another (a man called Theophilus). Like many books, Luke begins with an Introduction. In an Introduction you’re often given a glimpse into the mind of the writer and told you why they’re writing. Luke’s Introduction is no different. It includes four features and a purpose. He tells us four things about his book. Four things that reassure his readers. And then he tells us why he’s written. His purpose.
If you’ve never read Luke’s Introduction, why not read it now? It’s only short and you’ll find it in Luke 1:1-4.
Here are the Four Features of the Introduction.
1. Handed Down
The stories of Jesus which Luke uses were handed down to him (v.2). They were not made up or imagined.
Luke knows that the sources he uses originate in eye-witness accounts (v.2). They come from people who were actually there at the time.
3. Careful Investigation
Luke says that he has done his research (v.3). And he has only used stories that he is able to verify, as he has taken care to investigate himself.
4. Orderly Account
Having gathered his sources with care, Luke then tells us that he’s written ‘an orderly account’ – a thoughtfully organised and accurate life-history of Jesus.
These four features of Luke give us great confidence as we come to explore his book about Jesus. They reassure us of the work’s reliability.
AND A PURPOSE
But Luke doesn’t just write for general historical accuracy alone. Behind that is a greater purpose. And that is that people like Theophilus would ‘know the certainty of the things (they had) been taught’ (v.4). Luke wants individuals and families and whole communities to discover that the message of Jesus is true. That Christ really did live an extraordinary life and changed the lives of many. That he really did die a horrific death but then rise again three days later. And that the kind of things that happened as Jesus walked this earth still happen through his Spirit. Luke wants people to ‘know‘ this, not as a dreamy fairy-tale but like we’d know any other fact of life.
I find this reassuring and challenging. Reassuring because Luke has clearly done his home-work and I can read his book with great confidence in the research he’s done. But I find it challenging, in that Luke has been written to challenge me and change me. Even though I am a committed follower of Jesus, there is still much for me to ‘know‘ about this person of Jesus. And as I’ve read Luke afresh in recent days, I’ve been discovering even more about Jesus – and about myself. I am being changed.
If you would similarly like to discover more about Jesus and are open to him affecting and changing your thinking, your believing and your living, then read on. Read Luke with me in these coming days, and ‘know the certainty’ of Jesus Christ for yourself.