Name of Book: The Gospel according to St. Luke
Number of Book: NT 3
Chapters in Book: 24
Themes & Imagery: Obedience to the law of Moses, and quotation from scripture, but superiority over the Hebrew priests. Power of words, particularly for healing; communication through parables, often using everyday agricultural imagery. Prophecy with the power of the Holy Spirit. Time spent in the wilderness. Teaching, even on the Sabbath. Suffering now for salvation to come. Forgiveness of sins. Charity, poverty, humility. Demonic possession. Resurrection. Disciples with the powers of Jesus working on his behalf. Loyalty to Jesus and to God being more important than loyalty to family.
Synopsis: St Luke presents his account of the life of Christ, from conception to death and resurrection. Specific episodes include: his birth as witnessed by the shepherds; his time in the temple as a child; his temptation in the wilderness; his selection of twelve apostles; his meeting with the disciples of John the Baptist, whose birth is described earlier in the book; the washing of his feet by the sinner woman; his sending of the apostles out to preach; the miracle of the loaves and fishes; his communion with Moses and Elias; his teaching of the Lord’s Prayer; journey to Jerusalem, yhe last supper of Passover, and the betrayal of Judas Iscariot; Peter’s triple denial; the crucifixion at Calvary and the resurrection. Parables include the Sower, the Good Samaritan, the Lost Sheep and the Prodigal Son.
Personal Response: This was my first dip into the New Testament, and so I was struck by the differences in style and content to the Books of Moses (and especially “Leviticus”), with the sustained focus on the biography of an individual, limited direct discourse with the divine, the use of parables to illustrate sermons, and the focus on widespread teaching rather than on a chosen people, so this gospel automatically felt more lively and engaging to me (even if I didn’t always find it easy to follow, particularly in terms of speech and scene transitions); I don’t know how I’ll feel after reading more of the New Testament. I was also struck by what I took to be frequent references to books of the Old Testament, and by the number of phrases which I recognised as having entered general English idiom – “Get thee behind me, Satan” (4.8), for instance, and the opening of the Magnificat. Equally striking where the passages which differed from my prior knowledge of them, whether as a result of a different translation or because other gospels give more details: the absence of the star and the Magi at the Nativity is an example of this, as is the Lord’s Prayer. The portrayal of Jesus seemed particularly austere to me, almost archaic, without the sense of widespread love and pity which I had been expecting: it remains to be seen whether this will also differ in other books of the New Testament, or whether I am labouring under a misapprehension due to only knowing the version of the Bible presented to children.
Favourite Part: Parable of the sower in chapter 8.
My Top Five Lines & Passages:
Mary’s Visitation to her cousin Elisabeth, chapter 1 verses 41-47:
41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:
42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.
45 And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.
46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,
47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
Young Jesus in the temple, chapter 2 verses 42-52:
42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the customs of the feast.
43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.
44 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.
45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.
46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.
47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.
48 And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.
49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?
50 And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.
51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.
52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
Facing questions in the house of Levi, chapter 5 verses 29-35:
29 And Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them.
30 But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?
31 And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick.
32 I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
33 And they said unto him, Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees; but thine eat and drink?
34 And he said unto them, Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them?
35 But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.
Jesus says not to worry about outward dress, chapter 12 verses 22-28:
22 And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.
23 The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.
24 Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and Good feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?
25 And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?
26 If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?
27 Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
28 If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?
The holiness of children, chapter 18 verses 15-17:
15 And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them.
16 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
17 Verily I saw unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.