Survey of the Book of Luke
It is believed that the gospel of Luke was written before the destruction of Jerusalem in A. D. 70, and probably during Paul's imprisonment in Rome in the 60s. Luke is called "the beloved physician" (Colossians 4: 14) by Paul. Luke writes with the warmth of a family physician as he documents the life of Jesus. He said that his purpose was "to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus" and his style is more like that of a careful historian than that of the other three gospel writers.
Luke may well have never seen Christ while Jesus was in the flesh. In 1: 1 he speaks of compiling "an account of the things accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the work have handed them down to us," which makes Luke sound very much like he was in second person. And this is the same Luke, the author of Acts, who was so careful with the "we" and "they" passages, to let the readers know who the primary sources were.
Luke was likely a Greek. His skill with the Greek language (the New Testament was originally written in Greek) and his phrase "their own language" in speaking of the Jewish people in Acts 1: 19 implies that Luke was not Jewish. His account appears to be a very left-brained and logical account of the life of Jesus, making careful choices of words and transcribing events in chronological order, in contrast to the random impressionism of John. Luke includes the most detail about the birth and early childhood of Christ, and like Matthew includes some genealogical information. But his motive seems to be more that of completeness, as he wrote to fellow Gentiles, rather than making proofs to the Jews, as Matthew did (a Jew writing to Jews about a Jew).
The Theophilus to whom Luke wrote both Luke and Acts is not otherwise mentioned in the Bible. The name Theophilus means "Friend of God" and seems to have been someone of some social or political stature ("most excellent", Luke 1: 3) if it was someone definite instead of a generic term.
The term "Son of Man" is used repeatedly (24 times) in Luke and can be an organizing theme for the book.
I. The Introduction of the Son of Man (Luke 1: 1 - 4: 13)
A. The Heavenly introduction (1: 11- 2: 52)
B. Baptism and temptations of the Son of Man
II. The Ministry of the Son of Man (4: 14 - 9: 50)
A. Luke 4: 14, 15-When Jesus returned from the temptations in the desert, he was in the power of the Spirit; and people recognized the power from the miracles and from His teaching.
B. Even in the beginning of His ministry, people rejected Him. Luke 4: 16-30.
C. He calls his disciples (Luke 5: 1-11).
D. In his miracles, he shows that the most important issues of life are not even in the health and wellbeing, but in spiritual life. (Luke 5: 16-26)
E. The Son of Man teaches a different and better way of getting along in this life. (6: 20-49.)
III. The Rejection of the Son of Man (9: 51 - 19: 27)
A. Samaria, a land championed by Christ, rejects Him (9: 51-56)
B. As the religious establishment sank deeper in its rejection of Christ, His exposure of their evil thoughts and deeds became more pronounced.. (Luke 11: 27 - 54).
C. Jesus warned all people about the conflict of good and evil, and of being watchful for the day of judgment (Luke 12: 35- 53). Such warnings make a "doctrine of a second chance" invalid.
IV. The Crucifixion and Resurrection of the Son of Man (19: 28 - 24: 53)
A. Jesus went to His betrayal trying to warn mankind of evils that would come to them. He wept over Jerusalem, lamenting the destruction that would come in AD 70 (Luke 19: 41-44).
B. The Sadducees did not understand the spiritual nature of Christ's kingdom (20: 27-38)
C. The betrayal and arrest. Six unlawful trials, none with a guilty verdict:
1. Annas, the previous high priest, father-in-law of Caiaphas, the then-reigning high priest.
See John 18: 13; Luke 22: 54.
2. Caiaphas, the high priest. John 18: 24.
3. The Sanhedrin, Luke 22: 66. Their meeting broke many of their own laws.
4. Pilate, first time. John 18: 28-38. Luke 23: 1-7.
5. Herod, Luke 23: 8 - 12.
6. Pilate, final time. Luke 23: 13-25; John 18: 39.
D. Death on the cross. This was a fate reserved for the darkest of criminals. A previous Sanhedrin that had asked the Roman government for two death penalties even seven years apart had been referred to as "the bloody Sanhedrin." But this Sandhedrin wanted Jesus dead so badly that they were willing to live with the consequences.
E. The resurrected Son of Man. This account in Luke 24 gives us insight about our resurrected bodies, because we will be made like him (I John 3: 2). His was a body of flesh and bone (Luke 24: 39) but not a body of flesh and blood (I Corinthians 15: 50). He could eat food and be touched, which are not characteristics of dis-embodied spirits.
Luke's accuracy in reporting the events of Christ's life makes Luke 24 all the more encouraging to us. This gives us hope that we can live as Christ now lives, resurrected, and in the presence of the Father.