The Gospel of Luke

By Christine Mortlock, Minister for Lifelong Formation

With so much available for us to read, from John Grisham’s latest courtroom drama to Louise Penny’s newest Inspector Gamache mystery, why, pray tell, read the Gospel of Luke? The answer—for a multitude of reasons! One, we are going to be hearing a lot from our clergy from the Gospel of Luke this year. A lot. Many of you know this, some of you don’t know it yet, but we’re in year C (the Luke year) of our three-year church cycle. We launched into this new church year at the beginning of Advent.  Two, where else can you hear the beloved parable of the good Samaritan or the parable of the prodigal son and the gracious father? The answer—nowhere else.  Luke is chock full of material we’re not going to find in any of our other three Gospels. Third, if our hearts long to hear a story of our God who is compassionate, who feeds the ravens and clothes the grass of the field, who brings good news to the poor and freedom for the oppressed, who knows our hearts, and announces salvation for all people, we need only turn to this beautiful gospel.  

Let’s situate ourselves (many of us again, some of us for the very first time) to our third and longest Gospel. We don’t really, exactly, know who wrote this gospel.  You’d think it was for sure Luke, right? Not so fast! The author doesn’t name himself in the text. The early tradition of the church is that the gospel was written by Luke, “the beloved physician,” mentioned in Colossians, the twelfth book in the New Testament. But this isn’t conclusive. We do know for certain that the author was very, very good at the Greek language, and knew a lot about the Old Testament and classical texts, including, some scholars think, the works of Homer and Virgil. Scholars think the author of the Gospel of Luke used two main sources, one a collection primarily of Jesus’s sayings and the other the Gospel of Mark, as well as adding his own material. We know the author also wrote the book of Acts, the fifth book in the New Testament. Most scholars also think the gospel was written sometime in the decade of the 80s CE, after Jesus’s ministry, death, and resurrection. 

So, now that we’ve got this preliminary survey of the gospel in hand, let’s make sure there’s a good study Bible on our nightstands, besides whatever other books we might be reading at the time. Let’s crack it open this year to Luke, and read it, again and again, in anticipation or in reflection of the gospel readings we’ll hear at Sunday worship. You will find a story about our God who forgives us, heals us, eats with us, and loves us. It is the story that anchors our lives as a community here at St. John’s.

Find more artwork by Patricia Brintle at

Share |