In his wisdom, God gave us, not one, but four inspired accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry. Without contradicting each other, each of the evangelists captured unique aspects of Jesus’ heart and mission. Matthew showed how Jesus fulfilled the scriptural predictions regarding the long-awaited Jewish Messiah. Mark presented Jesus as the powerful, miracle-working Son of God, recognized even by the Gentile world. John extolled Jesus as the pre-existent Word who was made flesh in Jesus and revealed God’s glory through an escalating series of messianic signs.
But what about Luke, Paul’s “beloved physician”? In striking humility, Luke frankly acknowledged at the very outset of his Gospel that he was not an eyewitness and that he was not the first to write account of Jesus’ life and ministry (Luke 1:1–4). Yet in compiling his presentation he consulted many of the original eyewitnesses and “carefully investigated everything from the very first” (Luke 1:3) in order to document “the events that have been fulfilled among us” (Luke 1:1).
What kind of God has been revealed through Jesus? Luke lets Mary, the mother of Jesus, do the talking: “He has done a mighty deed with his arm; he has scattered the proud because of the thoughts of their hearts; he has toppled the mighty from their thrones and exalted the lowly. He has satisfied the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty” (Luke 1:51–53). As Jesus proclaimed: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor” (Luke 4:18; see Isa 61:1). For this reason,
Blessed are you who are poor, because the kingdom of God is yours.
Blessed are you who are hungry now, because you will be filled.
Blessed are you who weep now, because you will laugh (Luke 6:20–21).
What Luke captures in Jesus’ heart is his concern for the lowly—the poor, women, children, non-Jews (Samaritans and Gentiles), the hated tax-gatherers who collaborated with the Romans and were consequently viewed as traitors by the Jews, the sick and disabled, orphans and widows, aliens and strangers. Read his Gospel and meditate on the way in which it portrays Jesus as the “friend of sinners” and as the physician who came to heal, not those who consider themselves righteous, but those who know they need mercy from God.
And in this “great reversal,” depicted in many of Jesus’ parables recorded in Luke’s Gospel, those of low status in this world are exalted while those who are part of the establishment find themselves on the outside of God’s saving purposes.