Good News For All
Posted by foryourfaith on January 23, 2010
Luke rejoiced in presenting Jesus as the one who “came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke’s identity has been much debated: some believe that, unlike other New Testament writers, Luke was neither Jewish nor from Palestine, nor was he one of the Apostles. The author of Luke’s Gospel was probably “the beloved physician” whom Paul distinguished from those “of the circumcision” – that is, the Jews. It is significant, therefore, that Luke’s opening address is directed to the “most excellent Theophilus, a man of Greek name. This suggests that the readership would include Gentiles. Indeed, Luke interprets the meaning of Jesus’ ministry as for those who embrace “the consolation of Israel” and say in Jesus “a light for . . . the Gentiles.”
For Luke, God’s plan for salvation is all-inclusive. divine love and mercy is for all people, and extends especially to such groups as “the lost” within Israel, the poor and lowly, women, the Samaritans, and the nations. Luke’s Gospel abounds with examples of Jesus’ embrace of these groups.
The lost sheep of Jesus’ parable are typified by “tax collectors and sinners.” Perhaps Luke’s most startling story regarding such outcasts is that of the crucified criminal who practically stole heaven while dying alongside Jesus. God’s outreach to the poor is visible in the Magnificat, which sings of their favored position. Women are secondary in the first century, but Luke exalts them. As a halfway stage in showing God’s love for both Jew and Greek, Luke uniquely features the role of the Samaritans as candidates for true piety. In the parable of the Good Samaritan it is the Samaritan who is the exemplar of neighborliness. Finally, the Gentile mission, which becomes a dominant them of Acts, already surfaces: thus Luke anchors his story in the Roman imperial world. Fittingly, Luke’s Gospel closes with the commission to preach “in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”