A)”The Gospel was written to prove to non-believers that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” Examine this claim regarding the purpose of Luke’s Gospel. (18)
B) To what extend may other purposes be equally important? (12)
A)The word ‘Christ’ is the English term for the Greek word ‘Christos’ meaning ‘the anointed one’. In Hebrew it’s ( ????)’Mashiah’ meaning the Messiah. In the Old Testament, kings, priests and prophets were anointed and in a sense messiahs. At the time of Jesus, people were awaiting for the promised one and for Elijah to come and pronounce his presence. They believed that the Messiah would be a military and king-like who will lead the people into battle and victory against the Romans.
Luke’s Gospel was indeed written to reveal Jesus Christ was the Son of God , the Messiah people were waiting for yet Luke also showed clearly that Jesus was not the type of Messiah people were expecting.
Luke provides us with more input on Jesus’ birth till the end of his ministry compared to the other Gospels. In Luke chapter 2 he shows us Jesus’ messianic self consciousness from a young age. Jesus and his family had gone to the Temple in Jerusalem for Passover when Jesus was 12. On the way back, Mary realized that Jesus was not with her , and went to search for him and found him in the Temple. Mary asked him why did he make them so worried by staying at the Temple and Jesus replied ‘Did you not know I had to be in my Father’s house?’. This shows that from an early age , Jesus knew his identity as the Son of God and that he believed the Temple was God’s dwelling place. This fulfilled the words told to Mary by Gabriel before Jesus’ birth, Gabriel told her that Jesus would be called the Son of the Most High.
While John the Baptist was baptising people, he proclaimed that ‘ I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptise you with the holy spirit and fire.’ At Jesus’ baptism the Holy Spirit descended on him in a form of a dove and a voice came from heaven calling : ‘ you are my Son, whom I love , with you I am well pleased’. This was proclaimed Jesus’ identity as the Son of God. Luke’s Gospel shows that Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit from birth , and that the Holy spirit was at work throughout Jesus’ ministry. Jesus being filled with the Holy Spirit shows that he is divine.
At the genesis of Jesus’ ministry, Jesus revealed explicitly what kind of Messiah he was by reading out the prophecy from Isaiah 61 saying ” The spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor , proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind and to release the oppressed…” This claimed that Jesus as the Messiah according to Isaiah was not a military Messiah but one who’s mission was to heal the sick and bring people into the Kingdom of God.
At Peter’s confession of faith , Peter claimed that Jesus was ‘ the Christ of God’ , Jesus then instructed Peter and the disciples not to tell anyone and said ” The son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law , and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life”
Throughout Luke’s Gospel Jesus tells parables to people , heals the sick and preaches the good news He showed his divinity as the Son of God by doing miracles like walking on water and calming a storm. Jesus taught many parables showing people how they should live their lives , and hinting his identity. Those who were ready to know , understood the parables well and probably knew who Jesus was. He revealed his role as the promised one in many ways and times for instance his entrance to Jerusalem. Kings or leaders would usually ride a horse when seeing their people however, Jesus entered Jerusalem riding a donkey , a humble animal representing peace not war. This action stated clearly that he was not an aggressive war-like leader which people were expecting yet a humble, serving, suffering and dying Messiah.
Luke shows through the description of Jesus’ arrest , trial , crucifixion and death unambiguously Jesus’ identity as the Messiah and the Son of God. Jesus sacrificed himself so that everyone’s sins will be forgiven, this was an act of compassion and divinity. This showed that he was the Son of God , who is willing to act and sacrifice himself for his people. “A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act. ” quoted Gandhi.
It was the purpose of the Gospel to show Jesus’ nature as Messiah and Son of God. Luke wanted to make sure that future disciples understood Jesus’ role as the Son of God who came to help the poor, free the prisoners, recover sight for the blind, heal the sick and most importantly bring people into the Kingdom of God.
Luke’s Gospel clearly was written to show non-believers that Jesus Christ was indeed the Son of God , Gabriel predicted that Jesus would be the Son of the Most high. Before and throughout Jesus’ ministry he had shown people who he is yet not everyone understood it , since they were not ready to know. Jesus’ divinity as the Son of God was shown when he performed miracles, healed the sick and sacrificed himself for the good of others.
B) The Gospel was unambiguously written to show Jesus’ identity as the Son of God, this was a crucial purpose of the Gospel however , there are far more purposes. Luke not only focuses on Jesus’ divinity and role but Jesus’ attitude towards certain people and Jesus’ teachings. Luke said that the purpose of him writing the Gospel was ‘to write an orderly account…so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught’. The Gospel is generally regarded as a literary masterpiece among New Testament books. Renan viewed Luke’s Gospel as “the most beautiful book that has ever been written”. Luke seems to have been the only Gentile writer of the New Testament and one of his fundamental purposes was to spread Jesus’ teachings to not only Jews but Gentiles.
It is clear from Genesis God had a special relationship with his covenant people (Israel) and he chose them , delivered them and told them how to live. However , it is clear from the Old Testament that God cares for the Gentiles as well as his chosen people , he is seen as the God of the whole earth. At the time of Jesus, Gentiles were avoided and probably hated too like the Romans and other non-Jews.
However, Jesus did not do this and actually went and healed and spread the word of God to the Gentiles. Jesus healed the demon possessed man who was a Gentile (also an outcast) and required him to stay in the area to tell everyone what has happened to him. This shows that Jesus wanted Gentiles to know that the door to the Kingdom of God is always open for them and everyone. Luke made it clear in his Gospel that God’s love was universal. Simeon foretold when he held Jesus , that not only would Jesus be ‘ for the glory of your people Israel’ but also ‘a light for revelation to the Gentiles’.
At Jesus’ time , there were many outcasts (including the Gentiles in some areas) , people avoided them because they thought they were impure. According to Luke’s Gospel, Jesus reversed the norm in society, he accepted those who were cast out like tax collectors and lepers. Jesus turned things around saying that all outcasts have a place in God’s Kingdom. Instead of shunning them like regular people would, he approached them and helped them. Jesus even said that these are the people he had come for by claiming “it’s not the healthy that need a doctor but the sick” when he was questioned why he was eating with sinners and tax collectors.
Jesus’ attitude to outcasts was one of care , compassion and understanding. This was shown when the blind beggar was not rejected yet healed while the rich ruler was rejected since he would not give his money to the poor. Jesus taught that the poor were blessed and said ‘woe to the rich’. Sick people were often considered sinful and were banished because they could pass on their diseases. While everyone were trying their best to stay away from sick people , Jesus however did not , and also healed sick people. Jesus healed the paralytic man who was lowered through the roof on a mat by his friends.
Luke’s Gospel is also referred to as the Gospel of women since Luke had a sensitivity towards woman is such that his whole book is marked with a distinctly feminine overtone and his concern for downcast women was particularly evident. Additionally, over half of all references to widows in the five New Testament books appear in Luke’s Gospel. From creation , when Eve was created after Adam out of one of Adam’s ribs , women have been considered inferior to men. Women were considered second class and property of men. Traditionally, women had to stay at home and be a ‘house-wifes’ looking after the children and doing chores while men worked and earned a living. Women were not educated and not treated equally with men. However, Luke’s Gospel showed how Jesus’ attitude towards women was different, he treated them equally and was willing to help them for instance when Jesus healed the widow’s son even though the Widow did not beg him to.
This showed Jesus’ compassion for widows and power over death to help those in need. The Gospel shows that during Jesus’ ministry he reached out to the people who were seen as sinners by the society and were cast out, Jesus came to ‘seek and save the lost’. This evidently shows that the purpose of the Gospel was to show that the love of God was for all people and that the doors to the Kingdom of God are open to all kinds of people including women, outcasts and even Gentiles. Other purposes of the Gospel for instace to show the importance of the Holy Spirit which inspired Luke to write the Gospel and the importance of John the Baptist to Jesus’ ministry were clearly shown in Luke’s Gospel. Not only did Luke present Jesus as the Son of God but also the Son of Man, “he presented him as the perfect , ideal man , the true representative for the whole human race” using the term ‘Son of Man’ 26 times.
In conclusion , the Gospel was written to prove non-believers that Jesus Christ is the Son of God is a fundamental purpose of the Gospel however , there are other crucial purposes too. Luke did not write the Gospel with one purpose in mind but more , he presented Jesus as a compassionate Messiah who reversed the norm in society and reached to those in need of help. Luke clearly showed that the love of God was universal , and that no one is excluded from the Kingdom therefore , the other purposes are equally important.