Today we will look at Luke. One of the four Gospels, however, not one of the twelve apostles. Does this catch you off guard? Sadly, I really need to stop and think who the twelve are, but I do know that Luke was not one of them…well, not one of the initial 12. We are however all disciples of God!
Here is what Easton’s Bible Dictionary says about Luke (which mean luminous or white):
the evangelist, was a Gentile. The date and circumstances of his conversion are unknown. According to his own statement (Luke 1:2), he was not an “eye-witness and minister of the word from the beginning.” It is probable that he was a physician in Troas, and was there converted by Paul, to whom he attached himself. He accompanied him to Philippi, but did not there share his imprisonment, nor did he accompany him further after his release in his missionary journey at this time (Acts 17:1). On Paul’s third visit to Philippi (20:5, 6) we again meet with Luke, who probably had spent all the intervening time in that city, a period of seven or eight years. From this time Luke was Paul’s constant companion during his journey to Jerusalem (20:6-21:18). He again disappears from view during Paul’s imprisonment at Jerusalem and Caesarea, and only reappears when Paul sets out for Rome (27:1), whither he accompanies him (28:2, 12-16), and where he remains with him till the close of his first imprisonment (Philemon 1:24; Col. 4:14). The last notice of the “beloved physician” is in 2 Tim. 4:11.
There are many passages in Paul’s epistles, as well as in the writings of Luke, which show the extent and accuracy of his medical knowledge.
I actually find this exciting that Luke is an example of someone coming to Christ by faith, not sight. What an example to all of us. Here is someone who lived during the time of Jesus, yet wasn’t a part of His ministry until after His death. I depend on commentary and biblical dictionaries for this kind of information. I’m still growing in my knowledge.
Let’s begin by reading Luke 1:1-3 to find out the reason why he wanted to write his account of events during the life of Jesus:
1Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word.3 With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,
Theophilus is a new name for me…so let’s look it up:
lover of God, a Christian, probably a Roman, to whom Luke dedicated both his Gospel (Luke 1:3) and the Acts of the Apostles (1:1). Nothing beyond this is known of him. From the fact that Luke applies to him the title “most excellent”, the same title Paul uses in addressing Felix (Acts 23:26; 24:3) and Festus (26:25), it has been concluded that Theophilus was a person of rank, perhaps a Roman officer.
To answer my question, he wrote to have his own conclusion. He didn’t take anyone’s full word without researching and thinking for himself.
20 ”Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21)
Luke tested them, by researching and coming to his own conclusions, but also through faith. Luke had an amazing faith. Remember, he never met Jesus. I can’t help but wonder if he ever wished he would have, or would question why he never did. However, if he did, then we might not have such an amazing example to led us by faith, and not by sight.
Let’s continue reading some words of Luke. Specifically, let’s look at a parable that Jesus taught.
5 “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. 6 Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture.7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”
Jesus talks about seed and how some of it will grow, and others will not. Some will grow a little, some a lot, and some not at all. I’ll be honest here….many years ago when I first heard this, I really didn’t understand it in the least. It wasn’t much more than trying to grow a plant, and if you wanted it to really grow, then it needed soil. I got the basics, but not the depth. Apparently, I was in some good company, because even the apostles didn’t understand the meaning, and when they asked, Jesus replied:
11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.” ~Luke 8:11-15
Jesus spoke in these parables knowing only certain people would understand them. He did it as a way to distinguish those who had a responsive heart. Can you imagine if you were there when hearing this parable from Jesus…but really didn’t hear it because your heart wasn’t willing to receive His Word! I feel like I should be that horrified now too, because it’s only fair to say that His Word isn’t always received as it should be.
As I read this parable, I focused on the four different “soils” and began to see them as stages of faith. I think we all go through, or have gone through, different stages in order to grow our roots. And although I’m not exactly sure at what point we go from one stage to another, it seems fitting that by being in God’s Word and really studying it and retaining it, our roots would grow deeper and deeper, therefore, allowing us to reach the ultimate level of being planted in good soil.
Here are my thoughts on the levels:
- Seed on the path: A hardened heart so God’s Word doesn’t get received.
- Seed on the rocky ground: A shallow faith. I hear and receive the Word, and there is joy, but it’s never received in my heart. There’s nothing to keep me grounded in my faith, so I fall away.
- Seed among the thorns: Think of a flower garden. Seed is planted, but weeds pop up, and if you don’t pick those weeds out, they choke out and kill the beautiful flowers. You’re left with emptiness.
- Seed on the good soil: A full bounty, thriving, growing and more beautiful each and every day! A good and noble heart willing to receive the Word of God.
I am among the thorns, but I’m trying to pick out all the weeds so that I can fully receive God’s Word and grow fruit. This doesn’t happen overnight, but only by continually reading, listening, and allowing God to do His work in my heart and my mind. I know God will continue to open my heart up little by little and by doing so, I will grow deep roots that cannot be easily pulled up or lost in shallow faith.
For my closing thought, I mentioned at the beginning of this post to not really knowing the names of all 12 apostles. Well, Luke helped me out on this:
The Twelve Apostles
12 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: 14 Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 15 Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. (Luke 6:12-15)
God spoke so that I would learn to plant myself on good soil, so that my heart would be noble and receive His Word.