Week 3 (Jan. 22-28): Mark 5 – Luke 3

Reading plan for days 15 to 21:

Sunday, 1/22: Mark. 5-6
Monday, 1/23: Mark 7-8
Tuesday, 1/24: Mark 9-10
Wednesday, 1/25: Mark 11-12
Thursday, 1/26: Mark 13-14
Friday, 1/27: Mark 15-16
Saturday, 1/28: Luke 1-3

Some introductory comments:

The Gospel of Luke: Like A Joy-Filled Musical

Luke is actually the first of two works of our New Testament by a single author. The Gospel of Luke and The Acts of the Apostles were traditionally attributed to the physician Luke who traveled with Paul (eg, see acts 15:11, where Luke changes to first person narration!) but was not a direct eyewitness to the life and ministry of Jesus (see Luke 1:1-4).

Whether written directly by Luke or only attributed to him, the Gospel of Luke is clearly written by a well educated Greek-speaker who was skilled at writing. In addition to material common to Mark and/or Matthew, Luke adds some wonderful poetic moments: the “magnificat” of Mary after she greets Elizabeth, the prayers of Simeon and Anna. Indeed, one Bible I use points to these praise-filled outbursts and describes Luke like a Broadway musical, where people spontaneously burst out into song!

Luke emphasizes the joy of the ministry and message of Jesus Christ, emphasizing that this is indeed “good” news. More on that next week!

Who is “Theophilus”

Both Luke 1:3 and Acts 1:1 address the would-be reader by name, “Theophilus.” Who is Theophilus?

Unfortunately, beyond these two references, we do not have any information about a specific individual that Luke may have been writing to. However, this name Theophilus translates out to “friend of God,” and it has been suggested by some that it is intended to be symbolic for every Christian. Because of the address, lacking in other gospels, Theophilus was likely  a specific and influential person who believed in Jesus (or was at least attracted to him, like Cornelius in Acts 10), but because of the meaning of the name this same address could have been intended by Luke to apply to other readers as well.

A Book in Two Parts

As you read Luke’s account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, keep in mind that this was only the first of his two existing works. (I say existing because there is a theory among some scholars that Luke may have written a third book, lost to us, detailing the days of the church during the later days of Paul in prison and beyond.) Luke fully intended that his portrait of the person and ministry of Jesus Christ was only part of the story; the “sequel” continues to demonstrate the transformational ministry Jesus begins through the life and work of the Church!

Blessed reading to you this week! Please share any comments, insights, or questions you have from the reading in the comments section below.

One response to “Week 3 (Jan. 22-28): Mark 5 – Luke 3

  1. Mon/Tues, Mark 8, 9, 10, Dawning Understanding:

    As I shared Sunday, Mark 8 marks a significant pivotal point in the Gospel of Mark. Up to this point, Jesus has been actively teaching/preaching, declaring the coming of the Kingdom of God, healing illness/infirmity, casting out demons, and traveling with his disciples. Based on these previous experiences with them, in 8:27 Jesus asks his disciples, “who do people say I am?” and, in v 29, “and what about you? (you who have been with me all this time) Who do you say I am?” When Peter confesses his faith that Jesus is the Christ / the Messiah, it is based on his (and the other disciples’) experiences with Jesus, as told up to this point.

    Immediately after Peter’s confession, Jesus begins to reveal more to the disciples. First, Jesus begins to teach the disciples about the forthcoming crucifixion and resurrection; and, repeatedly, Mark tells us that the disciples did not quite understand. Then, in chapter 9, in “the transfiguration,” three of the disciples really see Jesus for who he is; see the divinity and glory of God about him, a “theophany” (appearance of the glory of God).

    And then, following that, is one of my favorite characters’ interactions with Jesus. A man whose boy is possessed and desires Jesus to heal him asks Jesus, “if you can do anything, heal him!” Jesus replies, “what do you mean, ‘if’? All things are possible for the one who has faith.” And the man’s response, sharing the cry of his heart and, what I think to be the unspoken cry of many of the disciples, “I have faith; help my lack of faith!”

    As the chapters continue, the disciples seem to be walking that same line. While they walk with Jesus, and seem to demonstrate faith, they also demonstrate a lack of faith – particularly, a lack of understanding or trust in what Jesus is describing about the coming trial of the crucifixion and glory of resurrection. Yet like Jesus’ response to the faith-challenged father, Jesus continues to help them…

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