Matthew 1-28; Mark 1-16; Luke 1-24 - The Bible from 30,000 Feet - Skip Heitzig - Flight MML01
The Bible from 30,000 Feet, Soaring Through the Scripture from Genesis to Revelation.
Turning your Bibles to the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 1, and Mark, chapter 1, and Luke, chapter 1, if you just put a marker in all three of those gospels, we'll be off to where we want to be this evening, Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
Last week I covered 400 years in 55 minutes. Tonight, we're going to look at three separate books of the New Testament in the time that we have, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. But the reason I'm doing three, you will see, is because of their similarity. Hence, they're called Synoptic Gospels, number one.
Number two, you are so familiar, probably, with these books more than the other books in the Bible. The Gospel records, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are elements of the Scriptures that most of you know well. So we're going to cover it in one fell swoop. Now the Old Testament was written over a long period of time, 1,400 years. The New Testament was written in a single lifetime-- just for comparison's sake, long period of time, Old Testament, a very short period of writing time, the New Testament.
And the New Testament is the fulfillment of the Old testament. What the Old Testament anticipates, the New Testament authenticates. What the Old Testament predicts, the New Testament presents. Think of it that way. I love the formula of Augustine, who said, the New is in the Old contained. The Old is in the New explained. It's a good way to look at all of the Bible put together. The New is in the Old contained. It writes about it. It anticipates it. It predicts a new covenant.
There are shadows of it, foreshadows of it, types of it, examples of it. So the New is in the Old contained. Then the Old is in the New explained. We have the unfolding and the fulfillment of all that was anticipated in the Old Testament. All 39 books of the Old Testament have been anticipating this, the event of the coming of the Messiah, the deliverer, the King of Israel. The predictions made in the Old Testament are fulfilled here.
Now we have been looking at an overview of the Bible from 30,000 feet, beginning in Genesis, going all the way to Revelation. So we move rapidly. But I could even move more rapidly. We could actually taken and sum up the whole Bible in a shorter period of time. And I'm going to show you how.
I was speaking in North Carolina Monday and Tuesday to the staff of the Billy Graham Organization and Samaritan's Purse staff, one on Monday, one on Tuesday, and I made the statement that the whole Bible can be summed up by saying this, all 66 books of the Bible are about one person and two events. The one person is Jesus Christ. The two events are his two comings.
The first time he came to deal with sin. The second time he will come to rule and reign with those who have been cleansed from sin. So that's not the 30,000-foot view. That's like the 30,000-mile view. That's like from the outer space view.
Now the Gospels are really not biographies as we know them to be. That is, none of the Gospels give us a complete biographical sketch or a complete historical sketch of Jesus' life. They even make that statement. Now I'm going to the Gospel of John, where at the end of the Gospel of John, in chapter 20, verses 30 and 31, John writes, "and truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples which are not written in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and believing, you may have life in His name."
Then in the very last chapter of the Gospel of John, in verse 25, John concludes by saying, "and there are also many other things that Jesus did, which, if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen." So the Gospel records, by their own admission, are not a disclosure of everything about his life. But they're highly selective portions of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.
In fact, very little is written about the early life of Jesus in the Gospels. The first 30 years of Jesus' life, we have just a couple of hints of what went on. The bulk of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John focus on his ministry, and in particular, the final week and the last day of his life. More about that a little bit later on.
Each of the Gospels, rather than being a biography, are a what I call theological apologetic. It is a theological statement, an emphasis of one of the character traits of Jesus. And it's presenting him to prove, to show, to demonstrate that he is that thing or that emphasis. So it's a theological apologetic. John, chapter 20, what I just quoted, he says, I'm writing this that you may believe. He's moving them toward faith.
Our word gospel, the English word gospel, comes from an old English word, an old Anglo-Saxon word. Anglo-Saxons were like a 600-year period from AD 300 to AD 1000-plus. So the old Anglo-Saxon word "godspell," godspell, that's the word-- gospel comes from the old word godspell, which means "a good story," or the good news. So gospel means good news. The Greek word, euangelion same thing. It means "to herald" a good story or herald the good news.
Now the first three Gospels are called Synoptic Gospels. So usually the Gospels are divided up that way, three and one, the Synoptics, and then what they call the fourth Gospel, John. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are in a category all their own. Synoptic, those are two Greek words, "soon" which means with or together, and "opsis," which means to see or to view.
So the idea means you are viewing something together or having the same viewpoint. So Matthew, Mark, and Luke are seeing the life of Jesus from a similar, though not exactly the same, vantage point or point of view. That is, Matthew, Mark, and Luke follow the same outline, the same synopsis of Jesus' life, different emphasis, but same outline.
So the first portion of all three Gospels focus on his Judean ministry, the second portion-- I'm sorry, his Galilean ministry first-- then his Judean ministry second, and then his final days on earth, including his death, resurrection, and events that follow.
That's the outline that Matthew, Mark, and Luke take. John departs from that altogether, and we'll see that next time. Why are there four gospels? Why four gospels? Think of it as a fourfold picture of the life of Jesus. Think of it as a string quartet, and they're playing together. They are not contradicting each other. They are complementing one another.
And when you listen to a string quartet, when they're tuned up just right, and they're playing different notes but there's a sameness of the tune, it is gorgeous. So you have a fourfold testimony of Jesus. Or if you will, look at it as a fourfold frame. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are the sides of the frame that perfectly portray who Jesus is.
Or think of it as a movie director, the Holy Spirit, the movie director, setting up four different cameras capturing the same person, the same events, but from four different angles. And those four cameras will notice crowds differently, facial expressions differently. They'll emphasize a certain portion of what's going on in the story.
Now Matthew, let me tell you about the audience and the word to emphasize so you understand each book. Matthew was writing, as the Skip beautifully demonstrated, to a Jewish audience. He is picturing Jesus as the prophesied King of the Jews. And the word to emphasize, or the most important word in the Gospel of Matthew is the word "fulfilled." This was done or written that it might be fulfilled.
So Matthew was writing to the Jews. The word of emphasis is the word fulfilled. Mark writes for a Roman audience. Mark portrays Jesus as the obedient servant of the Lord. And the word of emphasis in Mark is immediately-- immediately. Luke and Acts, he wrote both of them, were written for a Greek audience. Luke will picture Jesus as the perfect man. And the word of emphasis, or the phrase of emphasis, in Luke is the Son of man-- the Son of man.
And then finally John. John was written with the whole world in mind, and the word of importance is believe. He wants people to believe that Jesus is the divine Son of God. Matthew emphasizes what Jesus said. Mark emphasizes what Jesus did. Luke emphasizes what Jesus felt. And John emphasizes who Jesus was.
Let's just go through those briefly. Matthew emphasizes what Jesus taught. Matthew was written around five speeches, five discourses, three most important ones, three main ones. But the emphasis is on the sayings, the teachings of Jesus. Mark leaves a lot of those teachings out and emphasizes what Jesus did. It's rapidly moving like an action film.
Luke focuses on what Jesus felt. It describes his humanity more than the other Gospels, his compassion. I'll explain a little more of that as we go through that. John is about who Jesus was, human but divine at the same time, the divine Son of God, that you might believe that Jesus is the Son of God and by believing, have life in his name.
The first three Gospels, the Synoptics, I already mentioned, are vastly different from John's Gospel. Here's how different. There are only two events in the entire life of Jesus that the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John share together, and that is when Jesus walked on the water and when Jesus fed the 5,000. Those are the only two events, miraculous events, that the Synoptics share with the Gospel of John. But together, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John give us a complete picture of the God man.
OK, you're in Matthew, chapter 1, right? Ready to go? So Matthew, writing for the Jewish audience, wants the people of Israel to know this, this man, this person, this Christ, this Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah, the one that the Prophets have spoken about, the one that God's plan of salvation centers on. So he has a Jewish audience in mind. He speaks about Jesus as the son of David, the son of Abraham, fulfilling all the promises to the kingdom, to David, and the covenant promises that he made to Abraham.
Now Matthew builds its outline on five major discourses. Well, let me say five discourses, three major discourses. Here's the three major discourses. Sermon on the Mount, kingdom parables, Olivet Discourse. I'll explain those as we go through it. But there are five discourses that Matthew shares altogether, and the outline can be built on that.
First of all, the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5, 6, and 7. Second, the commissioning of his Apostles in Matthew, chapter 10. Third, the Kingdom parables, seven of them in Matthew chapter 13. Fourth, a discourse on child likeness and leadership vulnerability in chapter 18. And finally, the Olivet Discourse, that is, Jesus' speech from the Mount of Olives to his disciples about the end of days. That's chapters 24 and 25.
Matthew probably wasn't his original name. We know that he was Jewish. He had a Jewish name. And that was the name Levi. Lev-ee, that's how they pronounce it. Lev-ee. We say Lee-vie. So he has a Jewish name. Probably Matthew was a name-- I'm guessing now-- given to him by Jesus. A lot of teachers, scholars, et cetera would say that. The name Matthew means a gift from God. Interesting to name the guy who collects your taxes a gift from God.
All I can say is that Jesus named him, if he, indeed, gave him the name Matthew, not based on who he was, but on what he would become once Jesus got ahold of him. You're a tax collector? You're used to taking from people. I'm going to make you into a gift from God. You will be giving to people. That's what Jesus does. He takes them. He revitalizes them. You might say he renames them, like he did with Peter, and then he uses them.
He worked for the IRS. But Matthew chapter 9, he records his own call by Jesus. Jesus walked up to him one day. He was collecting taxes there in Capernaum. By the way, when you go to Capernaum, they can show you the mile markers where they collected the taxes, probably where Matthew once stood collecting taxes in Capernaum. And Jesus walked by. And it wasn't a long speech. It wasn't a pitch. He just said, follow me.
And it says, Matthew left everything, and he followed Jesus. I'm sure Matthew had heard our Lord speak on a number of occasions. His heart was touched, so he was ready for a simple invitation, follow me. And he did. Matthew, chapter 1, verse 1 begins, The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. After that verse, there is a genealogy. There are 39 begots after that. Abraham begot Isaac. Isaac begot Jacob. Jacob begot Judah and his brothers-- 39 begots.
The word "genealogy," the Greek word is [GREEK], genesis, genesis. The genesis of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham, so Matthew begins by giving us a lineage. Why is that important? It is especially important to a Jewish audience. They want to know what is his background, his pedigree. What tribe does he belong to? How was he related to King David? How was he related to Abraham, the one God gave the covenant to?
So Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham, verses 6 and 7 of chapter 1 tie back into David and explain that because any claimant to the throne of Israel has to show his lineage back to King David. Naturally, the Jewish person is going to ask, what tribe does he come from? Who are his parents?
You remember when Jesus showed up in Nazareth and he quoted Isaiah 61, close the book. And he said, today the scripture is fulfilled in your ears. And they were all mystified by that. Who does he think he is? They said, isn't this Joseph's son? And in Galilee, in another portion, when he was going around from town to town and he made claims that he is the bread of life, they said, hey, wait a minute, isn't this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose mother and father we know?
So they were very interested as to who his parents were, what tribe he belonged to, what is his genealogical record. That's important to them. And it should be important to us.
I'll never forget the evening, midweek Bible study, guy came to the door claiming to be Jesus. First question I asked him, what city were you born in? Now, if he were to say, Bethlehem, I would have listened further. But when he said, Pittsburgh, I was done with the conversation. I showed him the door, asked him never to come back.
But I said, before you leave, what authentication do you have that you're, indeed, Jesus? He said, the Third Testament. I said, now, wait a minute. I've read the Old Testament. I've read the New Testament. So that's one and two. What is the third testament? I said, who wrote that? He goes, I wrote it. I said, yeah, there's the door. Go ahead. Get out.
So this is the ancestry of Jesus Christ. This is the family album of the King of kings. Go down to verse 17. So all the generations from Abraham to David are 14 generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are 14 generations, from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are 14 generations. So you have three sections of 14 generations.
We don't know why he decided to group them that way other than for literary symmetry, which was high in a Jewish mindset. You wanted symmetry. Why? Because the writer knew that very interested people are going to memorize the genealogical record of the Messiah.
So to make it easier, it is placed in this kind of symmetry. Verse 18, now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows. After his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, that is, before they had any relations at all, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Now twice so far we have noticed the name Jesus Christ written by Matthew-- chapter 1, verse 1, the genealogy of Jesus Christ, chapter 1, verse 18, now of the birth of Jesus Christ.
Christ was not his last name. His name is not Jesus H. Christ, as I've heard some people say as sort of, I've heard it. I said, now, where did you get the H? And they say, well, that's got to be his name, right, Jesus Christ? That's his last name. No. His name, his original name would have been Yeshua Ben Yusef, Jesus the son of Joseph.
Christ is not a name. It's a title. Christos is a Greek word that means the "messiah," the anointed one. The Hebrew word "moshiach" means the anointed one, God's anointed Messiah. The term messiah, moshiach, the root word means to smear, and it comes from taking olive oil and smearing it on somebody's face. So in antiquity, among the Jews, the kings and the prophets were anointed with oil. They would pour or smear oil on them, meaning they are marked for special use by God. They are anointed.
So the Messiah, the name means to anoint or to choose for a specific task. The Jews had long awaited a messiah, a deliverer, a king. The Jewish prayer that was prayed daily by pious Jews was, I believe in the coming of the Messiah, and even though he tarry, I will wait for him every coming day.
So they had been longing. They had been looking for the Christ, the Messiah. So Matthew gives us Galilean ministry, Judean ministry, suffering, death, and Resurrection arranged around those five discourses, especially the three main ones, including the Sermon on the Mount, the seven kingdom parables, and the Olivet Discourse.
All of the teachings of Jesus, since that's what he's focusing on, what Jesus said, make Matthew the longest of the four Gospels. It's longer because it includes all of the discourses, the teachings of Jesus, which takes us from Matthew now to the Gospel of Mark. Turn to Mark, chapter 1.
Mark is the shortest of the Gospels. But here's the thing. If you take all of the discourses out of Matthew, Mark is longer. The reason it's shorter in comparison to Matthew is because Mark doesn't have all of the teachings that are included in the Gospel of Matthew. Now many people think that Mark was the first Gospel written.
I'm not so sure, personally. I'm not so sure because that is a more recent view. For the first 19 centuries, Mark was not considered the first Gospel written. In the last century, century and a half, that's been the prevailing view. I'm going to explain, if I have enough time, the Synoptic problem before we close tonight. But I want to move on.
Now tradition says that Mark wrote the Gospel of Mark while he was in Rome. And the words of Mark aren't an eyewitness account, but Mark is giving us the testimony of Peter. So the Gospel of Mark is the Gospel of Peter told to Mark. Mark wrote it down. So Peter dictated it is the thought. Mark wrote it down and presented it.
Mark was not an apostle. His full name was John Mark. Mark, or John Mark, was a nephew of Barnabas. John Mark was born 10 to 15 years after the birth of Jesus, meaning the events of Jesus' life took place when he was a teenager or in his late teens.
Probably Peter led John Mark to the Lord. We do know that John Mark's mother had a Bible study in her home, or at least a prayer meeting. We know that because in Acts, chapter 12, Peter is put in prison, but it says the Church was gathered together in prayer at the house of Mary, whose son was John, whose surname was Mark. And that's when Peter came after he was released from jail by the angel, came knocking at the door and said, it's me. And they thought it was a ghost. They didn't answer the door. They didn't open the door.
She, Rhoda, the girl who answered the door after Peter knocked and said, let me in, it's Peter, she didn't open the door, but she went back and said, hey, Peter's at the door. And they said, oh, it must be his ghost, which is funny to me because they're having a prayer meeting that Peter would get released from prison.
But they must not have prayed with much faith because God answered their prayer. Peter comes to the door after the prayer's answered, knocks on the door and says, well, I'm here. And they go, oh, it's his ghost. It can't be. Can't be real.
But that took place at the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark, the author of this gospel. I mentioned he was the nephew of Barnabas, which means he went on the very first missionary journey that Paul and Barnabas went on, but it was John Mark who left and went back home to Jerusalem in the city of Perga in Pamphilia.
He didn't want to go any further. He went back home. It was something that was a point of contention with Paul. Paul did not want to bring him on the second journey. It caused such a contention between Paul and Barnabas that they split company and had to have two missionary journeys.
And eventually, toward the end of Paul's life, he forgave John Mark, and he became a close friend, and they reconciled. Something else about John Mark-- because it's only included in the gospel of Mark. There is a record of a young man in the Garden of Gethsemane who was wearing just a covering over his naked body, just a tunic. And some young men, Romans, grabbed him when Jesus was arrested. He wiggled out from them. They grabbed a hold of his garment, and it says he fled from the Garden of Gethsemane naked.
It's an odd story. It's right in the Gospel. It's right in this riveting account of Jesus' suffering at the Garden of Gethsemane. And then it's the story of a naked kid running from the garden. It's like, OK, that's weird. What's all that about? This guy is streaking in the midst of this passion story. It is believed that that young man was John Mark.
And it seems to fit. He's the only one that includes it. He didn't include his name, probably for a very good reason. But it seems like everybody knew that that was him. OK. Matthew and Luke give us snapshots of Jesus' life. John, as we'll see next time, gives us a studied portrait of who Jesus was. Mark is like a motion picture. It is very rapidly paced, and here's why. Mark's whole emphasis of Jesus is that he was a servant.
He's the one in chapter 10, verse 45 who includes what Jesus said, the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many. So you see a very hurried pace, like a servant would hurry to do the master's bidding. So Mark, chapter 1, verse 1, the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as it is written in the Prophets, behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you, quoting the last book of the Bible Malachi chapter 3, verse 1.
Verse 3, the voice of one crying in the wilderness. Prepare the way of the Lord. Make his path straight. That's quoting Isaiah, chapter 40. So immediately, Mark connects the Old Testament predictions of John the Baptist and immediately takes us into John the Baptist's ministry in chapter 1, then Jesus' ministry, beginning in chapter 1, verse 9. Here's what's interesting to note. Mark gives us no genealogy. Matthew does. Luke does. Mark gives us no genealogy in the Synoptics. Why?
Well, we know why Matthew gave a genealogy. Because he's writing to a Jewish audience. He wants to portray the King, the royal King having a royal lineage. A king needs a genealogy. But Mark presents Jesus as a servant. A servant doesn't need a genealogy. Nobody cares about the genealogy of a slave. Servants don't display their pedigrees. So in presenting Jesus as a servant, he takes out a lot of the teaching. There is less teaching and there's more action than the other Gospels.
In fact, he moves from action, to action, to action, and he uses certain words to point it out. The most common word is the word "and," the little conjunction that we use a lot, and. 63 times the word "and" shows up in chapter 1. And, and, and, and, and, he just keeps using. He's just-- you're kind of breathing fast as you read through the first chapter. He just keeps moving. And, and, and, 63 times. In the entire Gospel of Mark, the words "and" and "now" appear 1,331 times.
And there's a couple of other words unique to him-- "immediately" or "straight away." So look at verse 9, which begins the life and ministry of Jesus.
"It came to pass in those days"-- and I'll emphasize these words as we go-- "it came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And immediately coming up from the water, he saw the heavens parting and the spirit descending on him like a dove.
Then a voice came from heaven. You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Immediately, the spirit drove him into the wilderness. And he was there in the wilderness 40 days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts, and the Angels ministered to him. Now, after John was put into prison, Jesus came to Galilee preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God and saying, the time is fulfilled.
The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel. And as he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew, his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. Then Jesus said to them, follow me and I will make you become fishers of men. They immediately left their nets and followed him.
When he had gone a little further from there, he saw James, the son of Zebedee, and John, his brother, who also were in the boat mending their nets, and immediately he called them. And they left their father Zebedee in the boat-- kind of a weird thing to do-- and the hired servants and went after them. Then they came into communion and immediately on the Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and taught."
I'm winded just reading those verses. Mark-- and it's unique to Mark-- pictures this very hurried, harried pace of the servant moving from event to event, item to item, person to person throughout the book. Something else. Nearly one half of the Gospel of Mark is devoted to the events of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
From chapter 10 to the very end of the book, it's about the final week. In fact, you could even go to chapter 9, include that because he announces his death and Resurrection to his disciples in that chapter. So chapter 9 all the way to 16 really deals with the events of the final week.
So Mark is making a fast pace to the cross. That really is his emphasis. A Bible scholar from England and Scotland, he ministered in both places, his name was Graham Scroggy. He was a minister there a century ago. He said this, and it's one of my favorite quotes. He said, cut the Bible anywhere and it bleeds. You can cut the Bible anywhere and it bleeds.
And you see, no matter where you go, this scarlet thread of redemption. I wrote the book Bloodline based upon that concept. Cut the Bible anywhere and it bleeds. And showing from to Revelation how the atonement of Christ takes front burner, front priority, front stage throughout the Bible. Mark emphasizes that final week of Jesus' life, which include his crucifixion and resurrection.
It's important to keep in mind that scarlet thread. Jesus, in Revelation 13, is called, the lamb slain from the foundation of the world. So as you keep that in mind, you realize, boy, that's in the front of God's mind as he inspires by his Spirit these authors. He is presenting Jesus as the plan of salvation.
Now let me give you the stats on all four Gospels. I mentioned Mark is crucifixion-heavy, final week-heavy. If you took all the Gospels together, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, there are only four chapters that speak at all about his early life, that is, his first 30 years of his life, very few. In fact, Matthew, chapter 2 and Luke, chapter 2 have a few verses, and that's about it. But there are four chapters that even make mention of his early life, the first 30 years of his life. So that's just four chapters.
85 chapters, compared to 4, 85 are about the last 3 and 1/2 years of his life. Of those 85 chapters, 29 of them are in reference to the final week of Jesus' life. And of those 29, 13 of them are the last 24-hour period of his life. So you see where all of the Gospels are driving the reader, and that is the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
So the events of the last day of Jesus' life in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John total 579 verses-- 579 verses-- about the last 24-hour period of his life. Clearly, the cross is the focus in the Gospels, and for that matter, the New Testament, and for that matter, the Bible. Remember, it's about one person, two events, one person, two events. And the first event, the crucifixion, is key to that.
When we get to the Gospel of Luke, the Gospel of Luke is the most complete narrative of the life of Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels. It has the fullest account of the birth of Christ, the nativity of Christ. Now it was hinted at tonight a little bit in the skit that was done, but Luke has a style of writing very different from Matthew and Mark. He has a polished style, a polished, literary style.
If you read the Greek of John, it's very simple to get through. If you read the Greek of Matthew and Mark, relatively easy to get through. When you get to Luke, it's complicated. He was clearly educated. But here's something that is interesting. 27% of the New Testament was written by Luke, a Gentile doctor, 27%. Luke has more writing in the New Testament than even Paul the Apostle.
If you total up the Book of Acts and the Gospel of Luke-- Luke wrote both of those books-- that's 27% of the New Testament. Here's the word count. Luke gives us 37,923 words, 27%. Coming in second is the Apostle Paul with his 13 epistles. He gives us 23% of the New Testament. His word count? 32,407 words. Coming in number three is John. He gave us 20% of the New Testament in the Gospel of John, I John, II John, III John in the Book of Revelation. His word count? 28,092 words.
So the winner is Luke. He gives us more words, more literary real estate, than anybody else in the New Testament. And as I said, it's the fullest account, the most complete narrative of the life of Jesus. 20 miracles are recorded in the Gospel of Luke. Seven of those miracles are unique only to Luke's reporting.
He gives us 23 parables in the Gospel of Luke. 18 are unique to Luke, himself, including parables like the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the Good Samaritan. Only Luke records those. Nobody else does. Luke also gives us some of the greatest stories, like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus after the Resurrection. Only Luke records that.
And here's a feature of Luke. Luke tells us more about the compassionate nature of Jesus, his compassion to Gentiles, his compassion to women, his compassion to children, his compassion to sinners. All of the marginalized groups, the outcasts, Luke highlights them, and probably for a good reason. He was a Gentile. He knew what it was like to be marginalized by the Jewish nation within the borders of the Holy Land. And so he makes note of the compassionate nature of Jesus for all of these groups.
Something else about Luke that is particular to him, he includes songs of praise that nobody else includes. The Magnificat of Mary, my soul magnifies the Lord. When she sings that beautiful song or that anthem of praise, he includes the Magnificat-- the Song of Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, the Christmas anthems, the angels giving glory to God in the skies, the shepherds in chapter 2, the Song of Simian as Jesus is presented in the temple.
Now Luke was, as I mentioned, a doctor. He was a Gentile doctor. And though he quotes the Old Testament, he quotes more sparingly the Old Testament than Matthew. Matthew writes for the Jew. He's going to quote the Old Testament much more. Luke quotes it sparingly, and when he does, he always uses the Septuigint version, or the version of the Old Testament Hebrew translated into the Greek language.
The first three chapters of the Gospel of Luke include two annunciations, one to Mary, one to Elizabeth, two elect-mothers, Mary and Elizabeth, and two anticipated births, John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. That's particular to Luke. So Luke, chapter 1, verse 1, he begins, inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus.
Stop right there. The name Theophilus rings a bell. You've read this before, but it also shows up in the Book of Acts. He begins by saying, the former treatise that I made to you, oh, Theophilus, of what Jesus began both to do and to teach until the time that he was taken up, so Theophilus is mentioned in both accounts.
Now before we get into Theophilus, you notice the beginning. He said in verse 1, many have taken in hand to set in order in narrative of those things which have been fulfilled. It seemed good to me, verse 3, having had perfect understanding from the very beginning to write to you an orderly account.
So he's a researcher. He's pulling from different sources. He writes a very intellectual, polished account of the life of Jesus. Now I'm bringing this up because this gives us a little insight into how inspiration works. Divine inspiration never negates human cooperation. What I mean by that is that biblical authors had their own style, their own education, their own emphasis. They had noticed their own sets of things in looking at an event. But that does not take away from divine inspiration.
God used the style of those authors for his glory to lead to a very, very specific outcome. He used their vocabulary. In second Peter, chapter 1, verse 21, Peter says, holy men spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. That's the doctrine of inspiration. Holy men spoke as they were moved, carried along by the Holy Spirit.
It's a word from the shipping industry. When a ship would put its sails up and the wind would take the sails and move the boat to the destination usually determined by the wind, God had a destination that he wanted the author to land at, words he wanted them to say, but he used their style, their vocabulary. They hoisted their literary sails, so to speak, and they ended up at the very place the Holy Spirit wanted them to go.
Now back to the name Theophilus. Who was he? Answer, we don't know. But we can guess. Theophilus was perhaps the master, the dignitary, the noble person who owned Luke. Luke was a servant, it is thought, of Theophilus-- Theophilus, the master, Luke, the servant or the slave. He's writing an account for his master. That's one thought, which is interesting because it's very different from how doctors are today. Doctors in the first century were owned.
Now, you know what it feels like. You get their bills. You feel-- feels like they own you, right? But back in those days, they were owned by dignitaries. So it could be that he was a dignitary, that was his name. Or Theophilus is a pseudonym, that is, a fictitious name given to a dignitary, but he didn't want to disclose his real name because Theophilus does simply mean lover of God.
So he's writing to a man who has the name or the pseudonym, lover of God. And it could be, it is thought, that perhaps he was a dignitary who worked in Caesar's Palace, Caesar's household. And I bring that up because in Philippians, Paul ends the book by saying, give special greetings to brothers who are in Caesar's household. The family of God, Christians, belong to Caesar's household, indicating that some among the royal family had received Christ. It could be that Theophilus was one of them. Don't know for sure. These are guesses.
What we do know is he was a Gentile. We do know he was a doctor. We believe he was from Troaz originally. That's that little place on the Aegean Sea up in Asia Minor. And it was a place where he got a vision. I'll get back to that in a minute. But he left Troaz, spent time in Phillipi, and many scholars, if not most, conservative, New Testament scholars believe Luke was the man in the vision, the man of Macedonia who said, come over to Macedonia and help us. Because Luke then joins the party, and the narrative of the Book of Acts goes from, they did this, they did that, to, we did this, we did that. Luke joins the team after that.
One of the notable things about Luke's style of writing in the Gospel of Luke is he writes like a doctor. He writes about healings with graphic detail. He writes about, like in the Book of Acts, his ankle bones snapped into place and formed into the right place. The way the way he writes the Greek, it's very anatomical. It's very medical. In fact, one New Testament scholar said, Dr. Luke uses more medical terminology than Hippocrates did in his writings. Hippocrates is, of course, the Father of medicine. So there's a lot of medical words in this book.
I want to show you something, verse 2, chapter 1, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers-- notice those two words. The word eyewitnesses, the word he uses is [GREEK], the Greek word [GREEK]. We get our word autopsy from it. It's a medical term.
Then notice the word ministers. That's the Greek word [GREEK], which means an under rower, like a slave in a galley ship who would row it. But it is a medical term also. And when it is used in medical terminology, it means an intern, a medical intern.
So when Luke, Dr. Luke, writes verse 2, he says, from the beginning we were eyewitnesses, or they were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word delivered them to us. He's saying, we're a group of researchers and interns of the great physician. Given Luke's background and style of writing and emphasis, that seems to be what he's saying. We are researchers and interns of the great physician.
I mentioned that Luke wrote his book for the Greeks. The term Son of man shows up a lot in the Gospel of Luke. The Greeks put a lot of emphasis on humanity, and they talked about the ideal man. All the way from The Golden Age of the writings of Pericles, they spoke about the ideal man. And Luke presents Jesus as the Son of man, the God man.
As I mentioned, he shows stories of the compassion of Jesus, includes a lot of the healings, in fact, more healings than Matthew and Mark do. Look at verse 41 of chapter 1. And it happened when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary-- this is when Mary came to visit her cousin Elizabeth down in Judea-- when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary that the babe leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
This is something a doctor would make a note of. The child leaped in the womb. I love this verse because it shows me that the ministry of John the Baptist began when he was about nine inches long and weighed about a pound and a half. And the fact that Dr. Luke calls what is in her womb not a fetus but a baby should answer the debate about when life begins. It's a baby in that womb, and that baby leaped for joy at the announcement of Mary. It's just something I wanted to point out. I think it's important that Dr. Luke shows you that. OK.
By the time we get to chapter 3, he doesn't do it right away in chapter 1 like Matthew, but by the time we get to chapter 3, Luke provides a genealogy for us. Another genealogy, but the names are different. Yes, he takes us all the way back to King David, but he does not go through David's son Solomon. He takes a left turn and goes all the way back to David through another son of David named Nathan. So you have two different genealogies from different ancestors of David all the way back to King David taking two different routes. Why?
It is believed that Matthew's genealogy is the genealogy of Joseph, who was the legal father of Jesus, though not the biological father. And Luke's genealogy is the genealogical record of Mary. Why? Why is that important? Why Joseph and why Mary? Well, I'm glad you asked. The Messiah was predicted as one who will come through the royal line of David, the royal line, the kingly line of David.
But if you know your Old Testament, you know that that kingly line of David, God got finally so fed up with the Kings of Judah that he pronounced a curse on them, a blood curse, which kind of ruins the whole, well, how is the Messiah going to come if you got a blood curse on the royal line of David? Let me read it to you.
This is Jeremiah 22, verse 30. The name is Jeconiah, that is the King whose bloodline is cursed. He's in the royal line back to Solomon, back to David. God says in Jeremiah 22, verse 30, record this man, that is Jeconiah, the royal heir, "record this man as if childless, a man who will not prosper in his lifetime, for none of his offspring will prosper, none will sit on the throne of David or rule in Judah anymore" end quote.
And that happened. None of his, none of Jeconiah's descendants sat on the throne. He was succeeded by his uncle, not his offspring. So we scratch our head and we go, now what? Do we have a contradiction? How is the Messiah going to come through the royal line of David if the royal line ended? Answer, a virgin birth. That's the only solution to it. The only way to fix a blood curse is a virgin birth.
So you have Joseph's genealogy, and Joseph is the legal father, though not the biological father, because Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. But he is the legal father. So his genealogical record, as given to us in the Gospel records of Matthew, go all the way back to David through the royal line, including Jeconiah, including Solomon, all the way back to David. That bloodline is cursed.
So the actual bloodline, the biological bloodline through Mary, is traced all the way back to David also from the same genetic and household of David, but not through the royal line, but back through his son Nathan all the way back to David. So because of a virgin birth, you can have the legal right to reign, but a bloodline that is not cursed. And that is the only solution to how the Messiah can be from the house of David with a cursed bloodline in place.
So if you're ever wondered, why is a virgin birth important, that's why. OK, Luke follows the same outline as the other Gospel writers, the first two Gospel writers, Matthew and Mark. He does the Galilean ministry, chapters 1 through 9, the Judean ministries, chapter 10 through 19, and then the final week and ensuing events, chapters 20 through 24.
I'm going to take you to chapter 19, and we're going to end in that chapter, chapter 19, verse 41, because I want to show you a snapshot of one of the hallmarks of Luke, and that is compassion,
Luke 19:41, "as Jesus drew near," that is, drew near to the city of Jerusalem, "he saw the city and he wept over it, saying, if you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace but now they are hidden from your eyes, for the day will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you, and close you in on every side, level you and your children within you to the ground. They will not leave in you one stone upon another because you did not know the time of your visitation."
We've covered that in depth so many times. Jesus was fulfilling, though date predicted by Daniel the prophet that from the going forth of the commandment to restore Jerusalem until the Messiah the Prince would be 173,880 days. This happened to be the 173,880th day from the prediction of Artaxerxes March 14, 445 BC, to this day, April 6, 32 AD.
Boom. Jesus shows up, weeps over the city because they didn't recognize what they should have recognized because it was predicted. But that's the compassion. He weeps. He didn't go, told you so, now you're dead meat. He weeps. He's moved to compassion.
But I want to take you to-- I said chapter 19 is the last. Go to chapter 24. Last chapter, we're ending the Synoptics here. Luke features a story that has caused me much yearning over the years. It's the story of the two disciples walking to Emmaus a village not far from Jerusalem.
They're walking alone. They're talking about the events of the crucifixion. They're conversing back and forth. They're at the very lowest point, most confused point. Jesus comes walking beside them incognito-- they do not recognize him-- starts having a conversation. Verse 17, he said to them, what kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad? And then the one whose name was Cleopus answered and said to him, are you the only stranger in Jerusalem? Have you not known the things which happened there in these days? And he said to them, what things?
So they said to him, "the things concerning Jesus of Nazareth"-- they were talking to him-- "who is a prophet, mighty indeed, in Word before God and all the people." Verse 27, after this conversation, continues, "and beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself."
Verse 31, "and their eyes were opened. They knew him. And then he vanished from their sight." Verse 32, "and they said to one another, did not our hearts burn within us while he talked with us on the road and while he opened the Scriptures to us?"
Every time I read that I go, oh man, If there is one Bible study I wish Luke would have recorded, this is the one. I'd love to hear Jesus interpret Old Testament Scripture in this ongoing display presentation. Notice something about this Bible study. Number one, it was a prophetic Bible study. He wasn't afraid of prophecy. Number two, it was expositional Bible study. He expounded all these things. And number three, it was all about him. It was all about him.
In Hebrews it says, "I come in the volume of the Book. It is written of me." And then they said to one another, "didn't our hearts burn within us as he spoke with us?" Not "didn't our hearts burn within us as we spoke to him" or "didn't our hearts burn within us as we gazed into those eyes." "Didn't our hearts burn within us as he spoke to us?" What did he speak to them?
What the Scriptures in the Old Testament say, he expounded Scripture to them. He expounded to them the Scripture they grew up with, they knew from their youth. But boy, to hear him explain what it means, their hearts burn. You want biblical heartburn? You want your heart to burn?
It doesn't happen when you talk to him. It doesn't happen when you just sit around and talk to one another. It happens when the Holy Spirit speaks to you the words you have read many times before, but breaks them afresh to your heart. It leaves you-- it sets your heart on fire.
Well, I wanted to talk about the Synoptic problem, but we're out of time. So I can do that next time when we're doing just one gospel, the Gospel of John. I'll talk about that and finish up the four Gospels with the Gospel of John next time.
Let's pray. Father, thank you that we're able to, week by week, look at these large swaths of scriptural text. And tonight, Lord, these glorious accounts penned by Matthew, one of your followers, John Mark, who interviewed a follower who is near and dear to your heart, Peter, and then Luke, one who brought in a lot of different sources, and spoke about these events, and added his own flavor and details, especially the compassion toward marginalized people, three different perspectives following similar courses of outline, but very different perspectives and emphases that speak to us of our loving Savior, who was the King of kings, the King of the Jews, who was the servant of the Lord, and who was the ideal God man.
Lord, I pray that as we go back to reading these Gospels that we would see not only their emphasis, but we would see Jesus more clearly and fall in love with him more deeply. We ask in his name, and everybody said, Amen.
We hope you enjoyed this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Church. For more resources, visit calvarynm.church. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from The Bible from 30,000 feet.