Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ministers of the word

Luke 1:1-4
1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished[1] among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account[2] for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

Come away with me in time, to another time, in another land. Come away with me as we go travel back, backward in time, in century before century, like hill behind hill, to the middle of first century AD, to catch the echo of the birth and life and death, rising and ascending of the Son of God.

Backward in time to the dry, distant, and wind-swept road between Jerusalem and Emmaus, where the yearning, yellowing words of Moses, and the psalmists, and the prophets found their long-sought fulfillment; where barred hearts and captive eyes were opened to the light of day, and a holy flame was lit within–like a burning bush inside the souls of men (Lk 24:13-48).

Backward in time and place to the corner of a small, commonplace room where Luke is sitting, reminiscing, and writing on a scroll the collected and connected account of all that he’s seen, read, and heard–when the long longing of the ages came of age. As fire lights fire, from branch to branch, and tree to tree, that same uncontainable fire pushes out to warm and revive a sunless world.


Like Theophilus, we, too, rely on our scout to lead the way. He has been where we wish to go. He has seen what we look forward to.

Like Luke, we live in the budding age of fulfillment. When God’s promises begin to blossom. At time’s turning point, between the Consummation and the Fall.

Like Abraham, we left Ur behind. Taking what we could for the journey ahead. Like Abraham, we live in baited expectation. Having left, we haven’t arrived. We wait for the better country (Heb 11:16), in a land beyond the stars. Each day takes us further from a doomed and dying world. Each day bring us closer to our hoped for, heart-felt destination. Step-by-step and day-by-day we press ahead, as God comes to us and for us by his Word and Spirit.


Thank you, Father, for giving us life and birth and breath on the Easter side of Golgotha. Thank you that we were born during the journey, after our forebears made their painful way across the mountain pass. Thank you that we are blessed to tread the gentle descent, where Eden river surges to the shore of the sea.

Thank you, Father, for lending us another pair of eyes and ears. To see through the eyes, and hear through the ears, of others who went before us. To touch Jesus through their hands, and hear him speak to us today as he once spoke to them before.

Thank you, Father, for making their certainty our certainty. Thank you for bringing his deific words, through their inspired words, to our expired ears–so that we may overhear the healing words of life from the lips of the only Lord of life. That we may live with him and die with him, die in him and live in him–forevermore.

By the love of God, the grace of Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


[1] “Accomplished.” Luke’s choice of this term is probably meant to evoke prophetic overtones.1:1 anticipates 24:25-27,45-47. Prophetic words, as well as paradigmatic events, which were now fulfilled in corresponding events. Indeed, the fulfillment is still in process (e.g. Acts)–as part of one overarching and ongoing narrative, from creation to consummation.

[2] “Orderly account.” The phrase is somewhat ambiguous. However, we should try to understand what he intends, not merely by threshing all the senses of isolated Greek words, but by how actually executes his design in the course of the Gospel (as well as Acts). Luke has an eye for patterns. Promise and fulfillment. God’s recurring providence in the life of his people. That’s the common thread which strings together the various events.

In preparing my exposition of Luke, I’ve consulted the following works:


Bock, D. L. Luke (Baker 1994-96).

Evans, C. F. Saint Luke (Trinity 1990).

Fitzmyer, J. A. The Gospel According to Luke (Doubleday, 1981-85).

Green, J. B. The Gospel of Luke (Eerdmans 1997).

Henry, M. A Commentary on the Whole Bible: Volume 5: Matthew to John (Revell n.d.).

Johnson, L. T. The Gospel of Luke (Liturgical 1992)

Marshall, I. H. The Gospel of Luke (Eerdmans 1978).

Nolland, J. Luke (Word 1990-93).

Ryle, J. C. Luke, Volume 1 (Banner of Truth 1986).

–––––. Luke, Volume 2 (Banner of Truth 1986).

Stein, R. H. Luke (Broadman 1992).


Bailey, K. Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels (IVP 2008).

Barnett, P. Finding the Historical Christ (Eerdmans 2009).

Bauckham, R. Gospel Women: Studies of the Named Women in the Gospels (Eerdmans 2002).

_____, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony (Eerdmans 2006).

Beale, G. & D. A. Carson, eds. Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Baker 2007).

Bruce, F. F. Jesus and Paul: Places They Knew (Nelson 1984).

_____, The Pauline Circle (Eerdmans 1985).

Gathercole, S. The Preexistent Son: Recovering the Christologies of Matthew, Mark, And Luke (Eerdmans 2006).

Keener, C. The Historical Jesus of the Gospels (Eerdmans 2009).

Maier, P. In the Fullness of Time: A Historian Looks at Christmas, Easter, and the Early Church (Kregel 1997).

Ryken, L. et al., eds. Dictionary of Biblical Imagery (IVP 1998).