Posted by Andreas Köstenberger
Should someone tell Luke about run-on sentences? Luke was not only a doctor; he was a very well educated man. As a result, he wrote a very elegant literary preface to his Gospel. He says he followed matters closely for some time and talked to eyewitnesses. With regard to Jesus’ birth, who would have been an eyewitness? The main eyewitness would have been Mary, Jesus’ mother. Mary was most likely much younger than Joseph, who in all probability had died by the time Jesus started his public ministry.
Who Was Jesus?
Luke wrote his account for Theophilus, who is called “most excellent,” a term used in the book of Acts for Roman government officials. Whether or not he was a Christian, Theophilus would have had questions about the origins and nature of Christianity. What kind of movement was it? Were Christians Jews? If so, how were they different? Who was Jesus? Was he not a Jew? These are just some of the questions Luke will take up and deal with in his Gospel.
The Story of Jesus’ Birth
Of the 4 biblical Gospels, only Luke and Matthew tell the story of Jesus’ birth. Mark, on the other hand, does not. Some have called Mark a “passion narrative with an introduction,” trying to get the point across that Mark primarily chose to focus on Jesus’ cross and the atonement for sin he provided. Most likely, Luke and Matthew, then, added material in their Gospels that Mark chose not to include, including the story of Jesus’ birth. (Later still, John wrote a highly theological account.)
Luke’s is probably the more familiar account, featuring the angelic choir, the shepherds, and the announcement that “Today in the city of David has been born a Savior, who is Christ, the Lord.” In this, Luke shows the fulfillment of messianic prophecy in the birth of Jesus. We can be very grateful for God’s Word and particularly for the accounts of Jesus’ birth. If it weren’t for Luke and Matthew, we would know little about it. We can also be grateful for the great care Luke took to write accurate history.