Dr. Luke, who wrote the third Gospel and the Book of Acts, was a faithful courageous, uncompromising servant of the Lord. More than thirty years after the Lord Jesus died on the cross Paul wrote to the Colossians, “Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas greet you.” Colossians 4:4. Some time later Paul wrote to Timothy, “Demas hath forsaken me,” “Only Luke is with me.” Take Mark and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.” II Timothy 4: 10 and 11. Mark and Luke were Gospel writers, but not of the twelve apostles. Luke was faithful to Paul until the end of his life. Undoubtedly Dr. Luke outlived Paul. Note Paul’s words in II Timothy 1:15 and 4:16:
“This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.” “At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me; I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.”
“All they which are in Asia be turned away from me; all forsook me.”
Then Demas forsook Paul. Paul was deserted. Humanly speaking he must have been lonely. “ONLY LUKE IS WITH ME.” How he appreciated and loved Luke for his faithfulness. Dr. Luke joined the Apostle Paul at the time Paul received his call to go to Macedonia.
“And after he had seen the vision immediately WE endeavoured to go into Macedonia.” Acts 16:10.
That was about 53 A. D. By marking “WE” in the Book of Acts after 16:10 much can be learned concerning Luke’s faithfulness in the Lord’s service and his loyalty to Paul. Luke entered Europe with Paul and was with him when he was arrested at Philippi. Acts 16:16. Note this statement, “these men, being Jews.” Acts 16:20. When Paul went to Jerusalem expecting plenty of trouble and persecution, Luke accompanied him, after Luke had joined with others endeavouring to persuade Paul not to hazard his life in Jerusalem. Acts 21:12. Paul was ready to die for Christ. Acts 21:12. And Luke went with him to face death. Acts 21:14 and 17. Later on, when Paul and many others were shipwrecked on the dark, stormy sea, Luke was with him on part of the wreck that reached shore. Acts 27:19 and 37. Luke was with Paul when he reached Rome. Acts 28:15 and 16.
So we must decide that Dr. Luke was a faithful, courageous and uncompromising servant of the Lord. We cannot understand why the Holy Spirit did not lead some inspired writer to record the virtues and heroic deeds of this remarkable character, but we can understand why he was honored by being himself a chosen inspired servant to write one of the most important Books in the Bible, the Book of Acts, and also the longest message in the New Testament Scriptures, for, although Matthew and Acts each have 28 chapters, yet Luke contains more words than either of those Books. But some man of God said, “Dr. Luke, you got us into plenty of controversy with your Book of Acts.”
We know that all of the sixty-six Books of the Bible were dictated by the same infallible Divine Spirit. In writing sixty-four of these Books, we are sure that the Holy Spirit used Jewish men. Why make an exception in the case of Luke and Acts? Certainly no one of the Four Gospels is more Jewish than is Luke. Some men believe that Luke was a Gentile because in his Gospel and the Book of Acts he opens with a message to Theophilus. Luke 1:3 and Acts 1:1. Others believe that Luke was a proselyte (a Gentile in the Jews’ religion) at the time he became a Christian. Let each carefully study the record and decide for himself.
Let us carefully note Luke 19:9 and 10:
“And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as HE ALSO IS A SON OF ABRAHAM. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
“And ought not this woman, being A DAUGHTER OF ABRAHAM, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” Luke 13:16.
“And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die. And when he heard of Jesus he sent unto Him THE ELDERS OF THE JEWS, beseeching Him that He would come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they besought Him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom He should do this: FOR HE LOVETH OUR NATION, AND HE HATH BUILT US A SYNAGOGUE. Then Jesus went with them. And when He was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying unto Him, Lord, trouble not Thyself: for I am not worthy that Thou shouldest enter under my roof: Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed. For I am also a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard these things, He marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed Him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick.” Luke 7:2 to 10.
This incident is one of the keys to the Book of Luke. This Gentile man built a synagogue for Israel. He loved Israel. He was of great faith. He was the only Gentile man who received a blessing from the Lord Jesus on earth according to the Record.
In these incidents surely we have the proof that, in the Gospel of Luke, as well as in Matthew and Mark, Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision.
“Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.” (Romans 15:8.) Note Christ’s words recorded in Matthew 15:24:
“But He answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Salvation came to Zaccheus because he was “the son of Abraham.” The Son of man came to seek and save the sons of Abraham. Later on the same Christ sent the Apostle Paul to seek and to save all the sons of Adam. Acts 22:17 to 21. Romans 15:16. Jesus Christ was Israel’s promised Shepherd, Messiah and King. This Shepherd was to seek the lost sheep, Israel:
“And I will set up one Shepherd over them, and He shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the Lord, have spoken it.” Ezekiel 34: 23 and 24. “And I scattered them among the heathen, and they were dispersed through the countries: according to their way and according to their doings I judged them.” “For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. A new heart also will I give you, and new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” “And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be My people, and I will be your God.” “As the holy flock of Jerusalem in her solemn feasts, so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men. and they shall know that I am the Lord.” Ezekiel 36:19, 24, 26, 28 and 38. “And David My servant, shall be King over them; and they all shall have one Shepherd. They shall also walk in My judgments, and observe My statutes and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever.” Ezekiel 37:24 and 25.
It is interesting to read the statement of Luke 3:15:
“AND AS THE PEOPLE (ISRAEL) WERE IN EXPECTATION, AND ALL MEN MUSED IN THEIR HEARTS OF JOHN, WHETHER HE WERE THE MESSIAH, OR NOT.”
Knowing the ninth chapter of Daniel, the Jewish teachers had taught their people that it was about time for their King and Messiah to visit the earth, in fulfillment of Isaiah 34:19. Surely the Lord Jesus was Israel’s Messiah and Shepherd-King. He proved it in every way. He had the Divine right, the human birth-right and the legal right to the throne of David. He was born to take that throne and reign over the house of Jacob forever. Luke 1:27 to 33.
But Israel said, “We will not have this man to reign over us.” Luke 19:14. Then followed those solemn and significant words of Christ to Israel. Let us try to visualize as we hear His words in 19:41 to 45.
“AND WHEN HE (JESUS) WAS COME NEAR, HE BEHELD THE CITY, AND WEPT OVER IT”
“SAYING, IF THOU HADST KNOWN EVEN THOU AT LEAST IN THIS THY DAY, THE THINGS WHICH BELONG UNTO THY PEACE BUT NOW THEY ARE HID FROM THINE EYES.”
Then read the terrible judgment which the Lord Jesus pronounced upon them. Read Luke 19:43 and 44. Then note Luke 21:22 to 24, “These be the days of vengeance,” “There shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.”
“And they shall fall by the edge of the sword and shall be led away captive into all nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”
Why? Because Israel knew not the time of their visitation. Luke 19:44. But remember the Shepherd of Israel is coming back, and they shall say, “Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord; peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.” Luke 19:35.
David was the Lord’s anointed. Saul was rejected. David, the shepherd, was specifically sought out by the Lord and chosen to be the Lord’s king. David’s throne was moved to Jerusalem, according to the Lord’s instructions. – David reigned in Jerusalem over the house of Israel and the house of Judah.
“He chose David also His servant, and took him from the sheep folds.” Psalms 78:70. “I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn unto David My servant.” “I have found David, My servant; with My holy oil have I anointed him.” “Once have I sworn by My holiness that I will not lie unto David.” “Lord, where are Thy former lovingkindnesses, which Thou swarest unto David in Thy Truth?” Psalms 89: 3, 20, 35 and 49.
David was the son of Jesse and descended from Judah, from Israel and from Abraham. David was a Jew by race and by religion. He was born in Bethlehem, afterwards known as “the City of David.” David was Israel’s shepherd-king. Many times in the Scriptures the Israelites are called sheep.
“My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace.” “Israel is a scattered sheep: the lions have driven him away: first the king of Assyria hath devoured him: and last this Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones.” Jeremiah 50:6 and 17.
Then note Isaiah 53:6.
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
“My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them.” “As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.” Ezekiel 34:6 and 12.
All Christians love the twenty-third Psalm. All Jews should also love this Psalm. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”
In Luke 1:27 is recorded the fact that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was of the house of David. In Luke 1:69 is recorded the fact that Israel’s Horn of salvation was raised up in the house of David. In Revelation 22:16 Jesus Christ is called the root and offspring of David. Note the prophecy concerning King Jesus in Jeremiah 23:5. In Luke 2:10 to 14 is recorded the fact that Jesus the King was born in David’s city, Bethlehem. David was anointed with oil. I Samuel 16:13. Jesus Christ was anointed with the oil of gladness. Hebrews 1:9. “Christ” means “the Anointed.” In Luke 1:29 to 33 is recorded the fact that Jesus Christ was born to occupy David’s throne.
Note the words of the Shepherd-King in Luke 15:4:
“What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness and go after that which is lost, until he find it?”
Luke 19:9 and 10: “And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which is lost.”
Matthew 15:24: “But He answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
John 10:11 and 14: “I am the Good Shepherd: The Good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep.” “I am the Good Shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of mine.”
Hebrews 13:20: “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant.”
I Peter 2: 25: “For ye were as sheep going astray: but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.”
I Peter 5:4: “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.”
In fulfillment of Ezekiel 34:11 and 12 the Lord Jesus came to be Israel’s seeking Shepherd:
“He shall feed His flock like a Shepherd: He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those who are with young.” “Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance.” Isaiah 40:11 and 12. “Hear the Word of the Lord, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattereth Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd doth his flock.” Jeremiah 31:10. “And I will set up one Shepherd over them, and He shall feed them, even My servant David; He shall feed them and He shall be their Shepherd.” Ezekiel 34:23. The Israelites were the sheep of His pasture: “So we Thy people and sheep of Thy pasture will give Thee thanks for ever.”
In the Gospel of Luke we find Jesus of Nazareth in the Jewish temple and in the Jewish synagogue time and again. In fact more is said in Luke’s Record about this particular ministry than in any of the other three Records.
It is in Luke’s Gospel that we have the dedication of Jesus by His Jewish mother, His circumcision, His customary attendance in the Nazareth synagogue. Luke 2:17 to 30. Luke 4:16. But Luke is not the Gentile Gospel, as some have stated. It is Jewish or Israelitish. In Luke there is not even the record of Christ’s ministry in Samaria or his conversation with the Syro- Phoenician Gentile woman. In Luke the Shepherd-King is seeking the sons and daughters of Abraham, the lost sheep of Israel.
To those whom He found and saved He said, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom. Sell that ye have, and give ALMS.”
When you study Luke write over the first verse “Jesus Christ, the Son of David, Israel’s Shepherd-King.”
For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.