Perspective? Not hardly.
Years ago our mother, Esther Owens Holmes, witnessed an automobile accident in downtown Greenville. My brother Mike and I were in the car with her. She was summoned to the city traffic court as one of five mishap witnesses. When she and the others were called to provide their version of the events, the municipal judge was so confused by their testimony he eventually dismissed the charges and asked the parties to settle with their insurance companies. Confusion? Yes. The five eye-witnesses all saw a different version of events. Their angles gave them five perspectives about what actually happened. C'est la vie. We all see things differently.
Some have suggested that is the reason we have four Gospels, that is, four accounts of the life and mission of Jesus Christ. Those of us with a high view of Scripture cringe at such a conclusion. Yes, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were unique individuals who brought different backgrounds and viewpoints to their assignment of recording Christ's life. People like me, with a high view of Scripture, understand the Bible to be the Divinely inspired Word of God without error (for more about a high view of Scripture click here). In my personal opinion, God chose these four Gospel authors to record what he revealed to them about Christ's life, mission, teaching, vicarious death, and victorious resurrection. They are revelation more than they are perspective.
Still, Luke brought a unique life points and circumstances to the task of authoring the third Gospel. In the first place, Luke was identified as a first-century physician (see Colossians 4:14). While little is really known about medicine at that time it can be concluded that Luke was observant, aware of details, straightforward and direct in communication skills, and detailed in analysis. As the author of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, these attributes gave him an affinity for numbers, an orderly presentation of factual data, the precision of perhaps a medical record.
A second truth about Dr. Luke's life experience is that he traveled with the Apostle Paul on his missionary journeys. The Acts of the Apostles is certainly an accurate depiction of the movement of Christ's church "...in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8, ESV). However, there are sections in his historical record when Luke used personal pronouns, "we", "our" and "us". They can be traced to Acts 16: 10-18; Acts 20: 4 -21:19; and Acts 27:1 - 28:30. These travels with the Apostle Paul provided Dr. Luke with an up-close and personal exposure to the people, places, and events central to our understanding of church history.
A third distinction may have been his Greek background. Bible scholars have proposed that Dr. Luke lived in Antioch, ancient Syria. Others believe him to have been a Hellenistic Jew, that is, a person with Jewish faith in God from a distinctly Greek upbringing and education. In either event, being a part of the missionary journeys of the Apostle Paul enabled Luke to comprehend the depth and power of the Christian message. His Greek viewpoint was especially critical as the Apostle Paul ministered in the Gentile world. He knew Christ changed lives. It was true in his own personal experience and what he saw first hand as the Gospel was preached around the world.
The opening of the Gospel of Luke gives me pause as we enter the Christmas season. He wrote---
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been
accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and
ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having
followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most
excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been
Luke 1: 1-4, ESV
In the weeks leading up to Christmas I will examine the birth narratives of Jesus Christ from the Gospel of Luke. These insights will guide my personal devotional experience in preparation for celebrating the birth of Christ on Christmas Day. They will also be the basic format of these blog pages until December 25, 2019.
Luke's Gospel is considered one of the Synoptic Gospels, along with Matthew and Mark. These three present the life, ministry, and mission of Jesus in similar fashion, synopses of Christ life. There are, however, many notable elements in Luke's writing that merit our attention. They are not merely the perspective of Dr. Luke, the Greek historian and Christian missionary. They are revelations God gave to the man he chose to record them.
Perspective? Not hardly. Thank you, Dr. Luke, for recording what God revealed.