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How does the author present Jesus? How does Jesus present himself? Who are his friends and adversaries? How does the story begin and end? In what ways is Jesus depicted as human? In what ways does he appear divine? What titles are applied to him? What titles does he use for himself? What is said and what meanings are applied to his death and resurrection? What is meant by the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven?
The primary target of this essay is evaluating the work and existence of Jesus Christ on earth within the framework of the Gospel of Luke. Despite the fact that each of four Gospels appears to present a thorough depiction of the character and deeds of Jesus Christ, there are major dissimilarities in every gospel. Each of the authors demonstrate Jesus Christ in the new and special light, depending on the assorted theme of the composition, focal points and different groups of people observing the retelling of the life and work of Jesus.
Luke, the author of the Gospel, despite the common belief, was not a Jew but a Gentile; moreover, he was a person with medical education with deep love towards other people. These profound feelings affected the style and manner of writing of the Gospel and altered the image of Jesus Christ in the eyes of a reader. The essence of the Gospel of Luke is demonstrated by the means of the material that he had been using in order to create the Gospel, ‘Ministers of the World’, to be precise. Moreover, the Gospel was dedicated to the man named Theophilus, who was working at the Roman administration (however, there was no actual historical evidence of his existence). The Gospel of Luke deeply touched Theophilus, he had rediscovered Jesus Christ in his hearts and found his true inner self. The name itself can be interpreted as ‘lover of God’, hence creating a prominent assumption towards the Gospel addressing every lover of God on earth (Borg 87).
The insight and wisdom of the Gospel of Luke have to be explored in the perception of faith. The Luke’s work should be considered not as a documentary about the life of Jesus Christ on earth but as the archive of deep faith. In the first century A.D., which is the period of time when Luke created the Gospel, there were numerous internal and external burdens, which created an adverse atmosphere in the society of Luke. These pressures are considered to be another reason for creating this work.
In his work, Luke was making an effort towards reaching an admission of the significance of affection for each other and the faith in the lives of Christians, aside the description of vivid description of Jesus and his life. Buttrick says the book of Luke explains what Jesus dealt with, “all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up to heaven” (p. 34). The Gospel of Luke is among the most accessible and approachable for reading, as it is composed in the classical style of secular Greek historians and reveals the features of speech that indicate the affiliation of the author to the learning circles. Luke was looking towards exhorting the Christian idea in a way that would apprehend the thought of the creative infidel minds of the first century.
The image of Jesus Christ in the Gospel of Luke
Despite the fact that Jesus is described in every Gospel in its own way, the moral story of a good Samaritan could be encountered only in the Gospel of Luke. The main argument in favor of the authenticity of the Gospel is its exceptional and transcendent divine power, as it contains the words of Jesus Christ himself. His character, energy, heart and his altering power are seen throughout the whole work of Luke. The words of Jesus Christ do not only show the universal wisdom and rhetoric; if seen from the perspective of Holy Spirit, they are the words of God.
The Gospel of Luke through the prism of the image of the good Samaritan showed a new guise of Jesus Christ. For example, the synopsis that appears to be an aligned version of the every Gospel has demonstrated that the most crucial and fundamental knowledge that we have about Jesus Christ is incurred to the Gospel of Luke and his vigilance to combine it into the whole. Only Luke is expressing the three sides of the story about the love of God and his looking after all his lovers: the parable of the lost sheep, the parable of the lost penny, and the story that received the most attention and fame – the parable of the prodigal son (Lk. 15, NIV). In the last parable Jesus presents his father God in the new, astounding and miraculous light:
20 So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. (Lk. 15:20-24, NIV)
Through the work of Luke, we have learned a lot not only about the life and work of Jesus but also about his sufferings. For example, the torments of Jesus are described in the dramatic and remarkable story, telling the reader about an affluent and prosperous man by the name Zacchaeus (Wright 44). That man had no shame in climbing a high tree in order to witness Jesus Christ with his own eyes, even despite the fact that Zacchaeus was considered to be an immoral man (Lk. 19:1-10, NIV). Moreover, the new image of the Passion of the Jesus is described in the Gospel of Luke (Johnson 334). There are no mentions in other Gospels about the Jesus sweating blood while he grieved over death, about his anguish and the angel that has been sent to him in order to help invigorate the divine power (Lk 22:43-44, NIV). After the betrayal of Peter, Jesus turned around and looked at him, thus showing the human side of his nature and the agony of betrayal of the loved ones:
61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly. (Lk. 22:61-62, NIV)
However, further Jesus Christ demonstrates the divine nature of himself by absolving not only the person who betrayed him but also those who had crucified him and caused him inhuman sufferings:
32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals — one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”[c] And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
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35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”
36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” (Lk. 23:32-37, NIV)
However, despite the common beliefs, Luke has no intentions of demonstrating Jesus Christ as a typical martyr in the eyes of the church. “It is true that Luke presents Jesus’ comportment in the midst of persecution as exemplary, and Luke seems to allow the disciples a view into at least part of the events surrounding his passion” (Green 747). These adherents chose to stay with him to the very end until he was captured. Nonetheless, from the point of view of the Luke, the disciples tend to remain invisible and unnoticed almost throughout the entire Gospel; though they come back once at the scene of crucifixion of Jesus (Lk. 23:49, NIV).
Without any doubts, there are assorted traits in the portrait of Jesus Christ by Luke that could be interpreted as martyr like; however, the author points out the fact that the reader is able to conclude by himself in the process of reading: Jesus Christ is much more than a martyr. In his ardent and heartfelt narration, Luke has underlined that the death of Jesus Christ appeared to be a death of the one who was honorable, conscientious, spiritual and pure. “All of this is grounded in the divine necessity, foreordained by God and foretold in the Scriptures” (Green 747).
All these cases illustrate both human and divine traits of the Jesus Christ that could not be observed in other Gospels. Jesus possessed a special way towards wrongdoers, along with the consuming affection for the impoverished, sick and those who had lost their path. Luke had revealed all these traits of Jesus throughout the Gospel, allowing the reader to see Jesus in the renewed light. Such consistency in the presentation of facts and destabilization is considered by educators to be a result of the medical occupation of Luke; furthermore, Luke made a lot of efforts in order not to forget anything that could play at least a minor role in the perception of life and the work of Jesus Christ and make the Gospel as reliable as possible. As a confirmation of these words the beginning of the Gospel can be recited:
1 Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled[a] 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, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. (Lk. 1:1-4, NIV)
Throughout the entire Gospel of Luke, the image of Jesus is enclosed by an atmosphere of healing and reconciliation, which have an impact on everyone that approach Jesus or even barely touches him. This trait of Christ is unique for the work of Luke and can be evaluated in numerous abstracts in his ardent and heartfelt narration: “It is only in Luke that Jesus heals the servant’s ear that was severed during the scuffle at Jesus’ arrest (Lk. 22:51, NIV). Only in Luke do Herod Antipas and Pontius Pilate become unlikely fast friends after being in Jesus’ presence (Lk. 23:12, NIV). Jesus prays for forgiveness for his crucifiers only in Luke’s Gospel (Lk. 23:34, NIV). And only in Luke does one of those crucified with Jesus express faith in him (Lk. 23:39-43, NIV)”.
Furthermore, both the author of the Gospel and Jesus himself portray the main character as the Ultimate Prophet, whose destiny is to give up his life in Jerusalem as every prophet before the time of Jesus Christ on earth. Jesus shows his human nature and guides each of us to follow his example by looking over the poor, distressed, afflicted, and women and giving them exceptional attention. People who believe in God and consider themselves Christians are believed to focus their attention to the visceral demands of people, especially the underprivileged, and ensure that none of them remain without food or asylum. The Gospel of Luke provides guidance for the rich people as well; moreover, it shows that those who are wealthy and affluent are having adversities when the need comes to disentangle their belongings from themselves. If they achieve success, they will be commended in the eyes of God.
The major approach towards Christianity in the Gospel of Luke is the mission of Jesus Christ to deliver reconciliation, absolution, compassion, and integrity. Moreover, he delivers the directives of God and his pledges towards blessing the whole world from Israel to life. Furthermore, while many people assume that ‘kingdom of heaven’ and ‘kingdom of God’ applies to the different concepts, while reading the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of Matthew is becomes clear that these two terms refer to the one thing. Mark and Luke had applied the term ‘kingdom of God’ in the paragraphs where Matthew had written ‘kingdom of heaven.’ For example: “11 Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force” (Mt. 11:11-12. NRSV) and “28 I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he” (Lk. 7:28, NIV).
Luke has created the most extensive and far-reaching gospel among all four of them. Not only has he determined a thorough description of the work that Jesus Christ the human savior had done but also he instilled knowledge about his life up to the day Jesus had returned to heaven. In Luke we see Jesus as divine savior who provides salvation for all men irrespective of their nationality: “46 And Mary said: My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant” (Lk. 1:46-48, NIV). Luke states the image of Jesus as a salvation to everybody on earth: “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord” (Lk. 2:11, NIV). Moreover, the target point of the Gospel of Luke is the miracles, parables and education of Jesus Christ; the author discloses the comprehensive confidence that Jesus has come back not only for Jews but for gentiles as well. Luke had emphasized the plea, the act and the miracle of the Holy Spirit from its first appearing in the Gospel of the John the Baptist, the inexplicable birth of Jesus Christ (Lk 1:35, NIV) to the spiritual baptism of Jesus and attire of adherents with the divine power (Lk. 24:49, NIV).
Borg, Marcus. Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time: The Historical Jesus and the Heart of Contemporary Faith, Broadway, New York City: HarperCollins, 1994. Print.
Buttrick, George. The Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes, Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press, 1952. Print.
The Gospel of Luke, New International Version. Grand Rapids: Zondervan House, 1984. Print.
The Gospel of Matthew, New International Version. Grand Rapids: Zondervan House, 1984. Print.
Green, Joel. The Gospel of Luke, Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997. Print.
Johnson, Luke. The Gospel of Luke, Collegeville, Pennsylvania: Liturgical Press, 1991. Print.
Wright, Nicholas. “Jesus and the Identity of God.” Ex Auditu 14.1 (1998): 42-56. Print.