Luke is one of the synoptic gospels, the others being Matthew and Mark. This means that the books contain much of the same information. While the same information is included, the arrangement, while chronologically presented, does have writer placement variations.
Dr Luke, the traveling companion of the Apostle Paul, wrote two books in the New Testament, to the same person, one called Theophilus. We do not know much about Theophilus except that he must have been someone of prominence. Luke tells us that Theophilus has been taught in the things of the Christian faith. Luke is taking on the task of confirming what he has been told, as truth. Luke does not use hearsay, but affirms his account based on eye witnesses and those that were servants of the word [Word – Jesus].
One aspect of Luke’s gospel is the historical accuracy which he weaves into his writing. There have been scholars who had contested some of the people and the time frame Luke places them in his narratives, but after further investigation, Luke was found to be accurate in his details.
While reading this first chapter I got stuck in the first two verses. Dr. Like explains why he is writing and the various other writers reasoning’s. Luke says that many have attempted to compile the historical ministry of Jesus and his followers, but only to capture those things that had happened among them. Luke relates what was “accomplished” as the ministry of the Gospel. These events, are now history, they have been affirmed by eye witnesses, and passed on having been verified as accurate events. This Theophilus has been taught by those who were involved and witnessed the historical happenings, just as young Timothy was from Eunice and Lois [2 Timothy 1:5]
After 400 years of silence, God Speaks! We know that the Old Testament closes with the tribes of Judah and Benjamin having returned from Babylonian captivity after 70 years. The books of Nehemiah and Ezra recount that journey. History has moved through the empires of the Persians, Medes and Greeks, on to the Romans. These events are contained in the the Old Testament Apocrypha and are not included in our bibles, primarily these “Extra books” are of historical content and do not add to the Gospel Story. The Canon of books we use to make our bible are books that the first church used already before anyone tried to compile a “bible” of books written by the various writers of old – 2 Peter 1:16-17. Luke is well aware that many had tried to capture the writings and events of the New Testament times. Luke wanted to ensure they were above reproach and passed the test of scrutiny from those who might try to discount the historical and spiritual movement of God through His Son Jesus Christ.
Our text this week contains the second accounting of Jesus’ birth. But before Luke brings all that to light, he captures the work of God is the preparation for Jesus’ birth by telling us about John the Baptist. In Isaiah 40:3 – it says “Prepare the way for the LORD in the wilderness; make a straight highway for our God in the desert.” Also in Malachi 4:5-6, “Behold I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. He will restore the hearts of of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.
Think about this – One like Elijah would be sent. Elijah the Old Testament prophet was a fire preacher proclaiming the righteousness of God. John the Baptist was the “Voice of one crying in the Wilderness.” John’s message, repent for the kingdom of God is Coming! John prepared the land and people for the presence of Jesus Christ and His salvic ministry to us. Galatians 4:4 tells us that “in the fullness of times, God sent forth Jesus.” God was at work in history preparing the way for The Way. Each of the previous empires added significant contributions to “making straight the paths” for Jesus to come and accomplish all that was necessary in God’s reconciliation plan of man back to Himself.