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NT Survey - 2 - The Gospels (continued)

by Pastor Al Robbins

The Gospel of Luke

The Gospel of Luke is written by Luke the Physician, and his orderly mind makes itself known both in the introduction to the book as well as the way that he writes. The introduction indicates that the book was written for a very specific purpose (so that you may know) and for a specific person (most excellent Theophilus) -- Luke 1:4. The description most excellent was generally used only for officials or members of the aristocracy. The name may have been a nickname, however, as it means lover of God or loved by God

Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word.
Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
Luke 1:1-4 (NIV)

The book includes many particulars that do not appear in the other Gospels. For example, Luke is the only one who tells the stories of the visitation of Gabriel to Mary, the visit of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth, the birth of John the Baptist,  the birth of Christ and the announcement to the shepherds by the angel Gabriel.

These stories are examples of how Luke presents Jesus as a man who lived the perfect life of the Son of man through the power of the Holy Spirit. This emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of people is continued through many of the people Luke writes about.

  John the Baptist But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.
Luke 1:13-15 (NIV)
  Mary The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
Luke 1:35 (NIV)
  Elizabeth When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Luke 1:41 (NIV)
  Zacharias His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
Luke 1:67 (NIV)
  Simeon Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
Luke 2:25-26 (NIV)
  Jesus Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert,
Luke 4:1 (NIV)

Some narratives are told from a different viewpoint in Luke's Gospel. Matthew writes of the virgin birth from Joseph's viewpoint and Luke writes from Mary's viewpoint. Matthew and Luke both give a genealogy of Jesus, with Matthew's genealogy beginning with Abraham and moving down to Joseph, the husband of Mary (Matthew 1:1-16). Luke's genealogy  begins with Jesus and goes back through Mary's family to Adam, the son of God (Luke 3:23-38).

Luke was likely writing for a Gentile (non-Jewish) audience, as is seen by the fact that Luke explains Jewish customs. He also emphasizes the grace of God being for everyone!

  2:28-32 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel."
  3:4-6 As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: "A voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God's salvation.'"
  24:46-47 He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."

Luke's Gospel is often called a devotional Gospel, as it especially emphasizes prayer. He includes references to Jesus Christ's own prayers, most of which are not mentioned in the other Gospels.

  3:21 Jesus' baptism
  5:16 After healing a man with leprosy
  6:12 Before calling His disciples
  9:29 At the Transfiguration
  11:1 Before giving the Lord's Prayer
  22:32 Praying for Simon Peter
  22:44 In Gethsemane
  23:46 On the Cross

Luke's Gospel has much that is not included in the first two Gospels, and much that has more detail than covered elsewhere. His task was to present everything in an orderly manner, which he accomplished, to show that Jesus was in fact, "a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:11). This phrase speaks of the mission of Jesus (Savior) and His anointing and calling (Christ the Lord) as the Messiah. This mission and calling is summed up in this verse:

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.
Luke 19:10 (NIV)

The Gospel of John

The Gospel of John has a number of features that set it apart from the first three Gospels, in that it is quite different in both structure and style. There are no parables in this Gospel, and of the eight miracles that are recorded, only two of them are recorded elsewhere. The book focuses more on the person of Jesus than the teachings of the kingdom. There is a strong theological aspect to the book, and it deals with Jesus' nature and the meaning of faith in Him.

Tradition says that the author is John, the son of Zebedee. who was the last surviving member of the apostles. It also says that he wrote it at Ephesus during his final years. This could explain the theological aspects of the book, as he had had time to put everything into perspective. Whoever the author, the book emphasizes the love of God.

John the apostle is not referred to by name in the book, but rather as the disciple whom Jesus loved several times.

One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him.
John 13:23 (NIV)

The author is familiar with Jewish traditions, and refers to the Jewish expectation of a coming Messiah. He is also acquainted with the Jewish feasts and explains them carefully for his readers. The book of John starts with the teaching that Jesus is the eternal Word incarnate, and at the end of this passage, he talks about Jesus dwelling among us which indicates that he himself was a witness to the miracles he recorded.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men.The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John.
He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God--children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:1-14 (NIV)

The key to John's Gospel is written in the author's own words in John 20:29-31. He wrote it so that those who have not seen ... may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, ... and may have life.

Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
John 20:29-31 (NIV)

One of the more well-known things about the Gospel of John is the seven I AMs:

  6:35 The Bread of Life
  8:12, 9:5 The Light of the World
  10:7 The Door (of the sheepfold)
  10:11, 14 The Good Shepherd
  11:25 The Resurrection and the Life
  14:6 The Way, the Truth and the Life
  15:1 The True Vine

Each of these statements identify more about the person and attributes of Jesus, and identify Him as divine. Because these are titles rather than actual names, the words I AM are an important part of these statements. It refers back to God giving His Name as the I AM THAT I AM in Exodus 3.

John also teaches about the office and work of the Holy Spirit.

  The Abiding Presence And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever--
John 14:16 (NIV)
  The Teacher and Reminder But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14:26 (NIV)
  The The Testifier "When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.
John 15:26 (NIV)
  The Convicter But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: John 16:7-8 (NIV)
  The Guide, the Voice of God, the Prophet But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. John 16:13 (NIV)
  The Glorifier of Jesus He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. John 16:14 (NIV)
  The Discloser of Jesus All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you. John 16:15 (NIV)

Another topic that John emphasizes repeatedly is the Fatherhood of God. He speaks of God as "The Father" over one hundred times. John's emphasis of God as the Father converges seamlessly with his introduction of Jesus as the eternal Word.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14 (NIV)

Jesus Himself constantly emphasized the unity of His work with the will of the Father. He repeatedly underscores that His mission is to do and speak what the Father tells Him to do.

So Jesus said, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am [the one I claim to be] and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.
John 8:28 (NIV)

One of the most well-known scriptures comes from the Gospel of John. It is the declaration of the magnitude of God's love for the world, so great that He gave His Son to provide eternal life for those who believe. There is nothing we can do to earn it, we can only believe in the Son of God and accept the gift of salvation He offers.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 (NIV)
 

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