If I wrote a short story on the life of my father, what might my focus be? He was a dad, husband, farmer, good neighbor, had a sense of humor, could fix almost anything, didn’t like laziness and struggled with retirement. A short story cannot begin to cover a lifetime, only parts of it.
John wrote that if all were told about the life of Jesus Christ, the world could not hold the books. He and the other Gospel writers had to squeeze the three years of Christ’s ministry into a short story. Matthew focuses on Jesus as the King of the Jews, the Lion of Judah. Mark focused on His servitude. Luke spotlighted this Messiah as “the Son of Man” who was perfect in obedience to His heavenly Father, carrying on a full ministry among the people. His story was in Palestine but in both of his letters, Luke pointed to the extension of that ministry to the regions beyond.
“Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:46–47, italics mine)
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, italics mine)
The New Testament survey that I am reading outlines Luke according to Jesus’ ministry as the Son of Man. It begins with the author’s purpose for writing:
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. (Luke 1:1–4)
Luke was a physician. He writes like a friend of ours, also a doctor, with the same attention to detail and desire to put things in order. This book outlines the rest of Luke’s ‘short story’ of the life of Christ in an orderly fashion as well:
The preparation of the Son of Man (Luke 1:5–4:13)The Galilean ministry of the Son of Man (Luke 4:14–9:50)The Perean ministry of the Son of Man (Luke 9:51–18:30)The Jerusalem ministry of the Son of Man (Luke 18:31–21:38)The passion ministry of the Son of Man (Luke 22:1–23:56)The resurrection ministry of the Son of Man (Luke 24:1–53)
The preparation section covers Jesus’ birth and one incident from His childhood. Luke also includes his genealogy through Mary back to Adam, His baptism and tells of His temptation in the wilderness.
Just recently, one of the pastors in our church told us of some of his preparation for ministry. He was about to transition to the role of lead pastor and was excited yet remember all that God had done thus far in his life. He was born into a good family and had been obedient to God. However, he had also been tested and the trial he shared with us was definitely part of his preparation for this role.
Jesus, God in human flesh, may not have been in danger of falling into sin (the debate goes on — could He have sinned?) but the temptations were strong and real. In terms of preparation, they posed the questions: Would He rely on God for all needs? Would He trust His Father in every way, not doubting or testing His care no matter the circumstances? Would He worship and serve His Father alone and not be side-tracked by any other ambitions?
As I read this again, I realize that ministry to and for the Lord and to others is about total allegiance to my heavenly Father. Like Jesus, I am also tested.
Jesus, do I rely on You for all my needs? Not always. Do I ever doubt You? Sometimes. Do I get side-tracked? Often. This is why I need the grace and salvation that You provide. Without You, no one can pass the tests.