Morning Sermon | An Introduction To The Gospel According To Luke: Peace To You | Luke 1:1-4 

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 40:1-8

“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins. A voice cries: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.’ A voice says, ‘Cry!’ And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’ All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the LORD blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” (Isaiah 40:1–8, ESV)

New Testament Reading: Luke 1:1–4

“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, ESV)


Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.


Today we begin our consideration of the Gospel According To Luke. I’ve always appreciated this Gospel, but my love for it has grown tremendously over the past couple of months as I’ve had the opportunity to study it in greater depth than before. I very much look forward to engaging with it week after week and presenting its rich content to you Lord’s Day after Lord’s Day as we assemble together in Jesus’ name. 

I trust that we will be very blessed to consider anew and afresh the person and work of Jesus Christ and the implications of his finished work not only for you and me and all who are united to him by faith but for all of God’s creation, for by his victory Christ has earned peace – peace in heaven, peace on earth, and peace with God the Father for all who are united to him by faith. This peace is enjoyed by all who have faith in the Messiah now in part, and this peace will be enjoyed by us in fullness when Christ returns to make all things new. 

Why did Christ come, according to Luke? Well, this question can be answered in a variety of ways. But Luke seems especially concerned to demonstrate that Christ, by his victory over sin, Satan, and death, has brought peace – peace in heaven, peace on earth, and peace for all who are cleansed from their sins and reconciled to the Father through faith in him. Again I say, this peace is present now in part, but not in full. It will be present in fullness when Christ returns to make all things new. 

Consider, briefly, the emphasis that is placed upon “peace” in Luke’s Gospel. 

When Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, prophesies after being struck with muteness for time, he says that Christ has come “to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:79, ESV).

When the angels sang praises to God before the shepherds in the field they said, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14, ESV). You will notice that they pronounced peace on earth, not universally, but upon those with whom God is pleased.

In Luke 19:38 Jesus enters Jerusalem to shouts of praise from the people. We call this episode the “triumphal entry”. And what do the people proclaim? They shout, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:38, ESV). Peace in heaven? What does this mean? Well, in Luke’s Gospel, we see clearly that Christ came to secure peace, not only on earth but in the heavenly realm too. This he would do by winning the victory over Satan and destroying his kingdom. 

In Luke’s gospel, we hear Christ say, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:18, ESV). Christ repeatedly casts out demons to demonstrate that he has won the victory over Satan’s kingdom and that the kingdom of heaven has arrived with power (Luke 11:20). He speaks of disarming the Evil One so that he might plunder his house (Luke 11:21ff.). You see, when Adam fell by bowing the knee to Satan, Satan was given authority over this world for a time. He ruled the nations and kept them bound in darkness. But when Christ came and obeyed God the Father as the last Adam, that authority was taken away from the Evil One and given to Christ. Satan was barred from heaven as the accuser of the brethren. His heavenly authority over the nations was taken from him and given to Christ. And this is why the kingdom of God is now able to spread to all nations. We will need to consider these things as we come to them in the text. For now, I want you to know that Christ secured peace in heaven by defeating the Evil One through his obedience to the Father’s will. Satan was bound at Christ’s first coming, “so that he might not deceive the nations any longer…” (Revelation 20:3, ESV). He was cast out of heaven so that he could no longer accuse the brethren (as he did in the days of Job), and so that he could no hold the nations in darkness and idolatry (as he did from Adam to Christ) (Revelation 12:7ff.). To put it simply, there is peace on earth now in part, and there will be peace on earth in full when Christ returns because Christ has won the victory in the heavenly realm. The Evil One has been cast down from heaven to earth. He is active still, but he is bound and defeated enemy. At the end of time, he will be cast into the lake of fire forever and ever. 

Christ, through his victorious life, death, and resurrection, has secured peace in heaven and peace on earth (for those with whom he is well pleased). It is no wonder then that Christ greeted his disciples in this way after his resurrection: “As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, ‘Peace to you!’” (Luke 24:36, ESV). 

As I have said, there are many themes present in the Gospel of Luke that we will be blessed to consider in the course of this study, but the theme of peace – peace in heaven, peace on earth, and peace to all who are united to Christ by faith – does seem prominent. Christ has come to give peace to all of those given to him by the Father. This peace is ours now in part. It will be ours in full in the new heavens and earth, which Christ has earned through his obedient life, death, and victorious resurrection. 


Title: The Gospel According To Luke

The full title of this book is “According To Luke”, or we might say, “The Gospel According To Luke”. 

Gospel means “good news”.  When we speak of the Christian gospel we mean the good news concerning the salvation that Jesus Christ has earned for all who believe in him. The gospel of Jesus Christ can be presented very briefly, as you know. But I would like to draw your attention to the way in which Luke presents the gospel. He does not present it briefly, but very carefully, at length, and in great detail. And the same can be said of the other gospels – Matthew, Mark, and John. These four Gospels are not brief accounts of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and of the salvation that he has earned. No, they are very carefully crafted, thorough, and detailed accounts. Each one in their own way seeks to demonstrate that Jesus is the Messiah who was promised long before.   

Brothers and sisters, we ought to be prepared to present the gospel of Jesus Christ succinctly. There are different ways to do this. We can tell the story of redemption in the terms of creation, fall, redemption, and consummation. Or we can present God’s law, demonstrate that we are all guilty by nature because we are lawbreakers, and then hold forth Christ as the righteous one who has atoned for sin, proclaiming that there is salvation found in him, received by faith alone. But I think we should also be able to speak of the gospel in depth and detail. If we wish to grow in our understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ, then we had better pay careful attention to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, for in these writings we find divinely inspired accounts of the life of Christ, his person and work, and the victory he has won for all who trust in him, through his obedient life, sacrificial death, and victorious resurrection. 


Author: Luke 

Who then was Luke? Well, let us first say who he was not. He was not one of the twelve Apostles of Christ. And neither does it seem that he was an eyewitness of Christ’s life, death, or resurrection. No, to write this Gospel he had to investigate those who were eyewitnesses, as we will soon see.

So who was he? We know that he was a close traveling companion of Paul the Apostle. The book of Acts, which was also written by Luke, makes this clear. In Acts 16:10 he begins to use the word “we” instead of “they” to describe Paul and his traveling companions, indicating that he was present with them. And Paul sends greetings to others on behalf of Luke in Philemon 24, 2 Timothy 4:11, and Colossians 4:14, making it clear that Luke was with him. In Colossians 4:14, Paul refers to Luke as “the beloved Physician”. Luke was a Doctor and was probably very useful to Paul as such. Luke was a Gentile. In fact, he is the only Gentile author of a book of the Bible. 

Though Luke was not an Apostle, he was very close to Paul, who was. Something similar can be said of Mark, by the way. He was not an Apostle, but he was very close to Peter the Apostle. So then, in this way, all four Gospels are backed by apostolic authority. Matthew and John were Apostles of Christ.  Mark was closely associated with Peter. And Luke was closely associated with Paul. 

One more fact about Luke: Given the large size of the books of Luke and Acts, he is responsible for writing about a quarter of the entire New Testament. Both Luke and Acts come from his hand, and they should be considered together as two parts of a united work. 


Audience: Most Excellent Theophilus 

Let us now briefly consider the audience of Luke (and of Acts). To whom was Luke writing? At the end of the day, we must say that Luke wrote his Gospel and his account of the Acts of the Apostles for the church. He wrote to those who love God and who believe that Jesus is the Messiah in order to strengthen their faith. But notice that both of his works are dedicated to someone named “Theophilus” (Luke 1:3, Acts 1:1). 

We don’t know much about Theophilus. Some believe that he was not really a person, but that the name, which means “lover of God”, is meant to stand for all who love God. If this is true, then Luke and Acts are simply dedicated to all of God’s people. But I think it is better to view Theophilus as being a real person, whether or not this was his real name. 

In Luke, he is called “most excellent Theophilus”. The title, “most excellent”, was reserved for those who possessed power, prestige, or authority. For example, in Acts 26 Paul addresses a man named Festus, a Roman official, as “most excellent Festus”. That Theophilus is called “most excellent” leads me to believe that he was a real person, and probably someone of wealth and status. Given his name, it is likely that he was a Gentile and not a Jew. Perhaps he had converted to Judaism as a “God-fearer”, and afterward came to believe that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed the long-awaited Messiah. It is also possible (maybe probable) that Theophilus was the patron or benefactor of the Luke/Acts project. Writing the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles would have been very expensive. Luke would have needed support to live and travel while working on this project. Parchment in those days was expensive. Viewing “most excellent Theophilus” as the one who funded this project makes perfect sense. This would explain why Luke dedicated the work to him. 

In summary, it is my view that Theophilus was a real person, probably a Gentile Christian, and a wealthy supporter of Luke and his writing projects. But in saying this, I think it is also right to view Theophilus as a representative of all who love God as he did. Luke dedicated his work to Theophilus, his benefactor, and he wrote for the benefit of the whole church of God. 


Purpose: That You May Have Certainty

So, we have considered the title, the author, and the audience of this Gospel. Let us now consider Luke’s stated purpose for writing. Authors do not always state their purpose for writing in a direct way. When they do, we should pay careful attention to what they say. In 1:4 Luke says that he wrote so that Theophilus (and all who love God and Christ along with him) “may have certainty concerning the things [they] have been taught” (Luke 1:4, ESV). 

So then, Luke wrote to Theophilus with the assumption that he had heard the gospel of Jesus Christ and that he had believed in that gospel. Perhaps Theophilus had heard the gospel presented orally. Or perhaps Theophilus had read one of the other accounts of the life of Christ that Luke mentions in 1:1, saying, “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us…” This could be a reference to one of the other Gospels we now have in our canon. It seems likely, though, that Luke is referring to “narratives” produced by others, not inspired by the Holy Spirit, nor approved by the Apostles, and therefore, not accepted and preserved by the church. However the good news came to Theophilus, we know that Luke wrote to further strengthen his faith and to confirm the message that he had already heard so that he might believe beyond all doubt.  

Luke’s purpose statement reminds me that the gospel of Jesus Christ is not just for the non-believer. No, the gospel is for the believer too. The gospel must be preached to the non-beliving world so that sinners might turn from their sins and place their faith in Christ. But those who have believed must hear the gospel again and again. And we must consider the gospel with more and more care and depth so that we might grow in our understanding, appreciation, and certainty concerning the things that God has graciously done for us in Christ Jesus. I’m reminded of Paul’s exhortation to the Colossians. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly”, he says (Colossians 3:16, ESV). We come to believe in Christ through the preaching of the word of Christ. And all who believe in Christ have the word of Christ in them. But we are to go on to maturity – the word of Christ is to dwell in us richly!  

Luke presents the story of Jesus Christ, his person, work, and reward to us in a very rich way. I have no doubt that Theophilus greatly benefited from Luke’s work when he received it. Certainly, the church throughout the ages has benefitted from this Gospel. And I’m confident that the Lord will use his inspired word to strengthen our faith as well so that we might have greater certainty concerning the things we have been taught.


Methodology: Luke Interviewed Eyewitnesses And Ministers Of The Word

How then did Luke go about producing this Gospel so that Theophilus (and all who love God along with him) might “have certainty concerning the things [they] have been taught.” In other words, what was his method?

As I have said, Luke was not an Apostle nor was he an eyewitness to the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. To write this Gospel, he had to interview those who were. 

He mentions his dependence upon eyewitness testimony at the beginning of Luke and Acts. In Luke 1:1 he says, “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…” (Luke 1:1–3, ESV). And in Acts 1:1 Luke says, “In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:1–3, ESV). 

Luke does not write the Gospel of Luke or the first half of Acts from personal experience but as an investigator who had “followed [these] things closely for some time”. Luke bases his account of the life of Christ on the testimony of many witnesses. He investigates those who walked with Christ in his life, witnessed his death, and saw him in his resurrection. There is a sense, therefore, in which Luke’s Gospel is a group project. It is a carefully ordered collection of the testimony of many eyewitnesses. 

By the way, is interesting to think about Luke’s process of writing as it pertains to the topic of the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. We confess that all Scripture is inspired by God. We agree with Peter who said, “that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20–21, ESV). And we agree with Paul who said, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:16, ESV). This certainly includes Luke’s Gospel. The Gospel of Luke is inspired Scripture. But it must be admitted that God has inspired the writing of Holy Scripture in different ways. Some writers of Holy Scripture saw visions. Some dreamed dreams. Some heard the voice of the LORD. Some wrote inspired oral traditions that were handed down to them. Others wrote in their study as they contemplated Scriptures previously written. But God moved Luke to write what he wrote through the process of investigation. “It seemed good to [him]…  having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account… for… most excellent Theophilus…” (Luke 1:3, ESV). In this way – through the process of investigation – Luke was moved along by the Holy Spirit to write what he wrote so that what we have is not ultimately the word of Luke, but the very word of God. 

I want you to notice something interesting in 1:2. Luke does not only say that “eyewitnesses” delivered these truths to him (and to others). He also refers to them as “ministers of the word”. Also, at the beginning of verse 2, he says that these were with Christ “from the beginning”. So then, Luke wrote his Gospel by carefully consulting with those who were 1) with Christ from the beginning of his ministry, 2) were eyewitnesses, and 3) were ministers of the word. Clearly, this is a reference to the twelve Apostles of Christ (minus Judas). It may also include the 72 disciples of Jesus mentioned in Luke 10. Perhaps there were more. The point is this: Luke relied on the testimony of those who met all three of these qualifications. They were 1) with Christ from the beginning of his ministry, 2) eyewitnesses of his life, death, and resurrection, and 3) ministers of the word. I think the phrase “ministers of the word” is very interesting and important. These Apostles and disciples of Christ that Luke relied upon for the writing of his Gospel were not merely “eyewitnesses”, they were also “ministers of the word.” Their mission was not only to report on facts – facts about what they heard and saw Jesus say and do – they were entrusted with a word or message. 

What were these eyewitnesses and ministers of the word to preach and teach? Well, it should be clear that they were to preach and teach the very things that are now contained for us in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. All four Gospels tell us about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. All four testify to what he taught and what he did. And notice this: as these eyewitnesses tell us about what they saw and heard, they do not merely present the facts to us (as if they were eyewitnesses only), but labor to demonstrate to us Jesus is the Christ (or Messiah) who was promised to Adam, Abraham, Israel, and David. In other words, the Apostles and others who were with Jesus from the beginning did not only have facts to present, they also had a message to proclaim. I think this is why Luke refers to them both as “eyewitnesses” and “ministers of the word”. This will become very apparent as we progress through Luke’s Gospel. In this Gospel, we will not only find facts concerning the things that Jesus said and did, we will also encounter a message – the very message that the disciples of Christ who were eyewitnesses from the beginning were commanded to proclaim as ministers of the word of God.      


The Finished Product: An Orderly Narrative Of The Things That Jesus Christ Accomplished

The last question that I have for today is this: what was the finished product? Answer: An orderly narrative concerning the things that Jesus Christ accomplished. Let us consider these three words: orderly, narrative, and accomplished. 

First of all, Luke’s Gospel is orderly. You should know, brothers and sisters, that the ancients were not as concerned with chronological order as we tend to be. Sometimes they were more concerned with thematic or literary order. And I have come to greatly appreciate the thematic or literary order of Luke’s Gospel. Information and stories are presented to us in this Gospel in very skilled ways so as to clearly communicate a message. Many have called the Gospel of Luke a masterpiece. The language of Luke is beautiful in its original Greek. And it is ordered in a very careful and brilliant way. Take, for example, the way in which the opening songs and statements from Elizabeth, Mary, Zechariah, and the Angels set the tone and establish the major themes of this Gospel. And consider also the placement of the genealogy of Jesus.  It does not appear at the very beginning and before the birth narrative as it does in Matthew, but at the end of chapter three, after the account of Jesus’ baptism, and right before the account of his temptation in the wilderness. It seems almost out of order, but in fact Luke is orderly. He presents the genealogy here at the end of chapter three and just before his temptation in the wilderness to make the point that Jesus was victorious over the temptation as the Son of Adam, the Son of God. The order makes a theological point. Many other observations about the order of Luke will be made as we progress through this marvelous book.

Secondly, in the Gospel of Luke, we find a narrative or story. Brothers and sisters, the Christian faith is a story. It is a message about what God has done. It is not merely a philosophical system, a collection of teachings, or a moral code. The Christian faith is centered upon a message or story about what God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit has done as our Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer. In the Gospel of Luke, we find a story. And it is a story about the victory that has been won by the Lord’s Messiah – victory over sin, Satan, and death. It is a story about how God has secured peace to heaven, to earth, and to all who are united to Christ by faith. The truth is this: when man fell into sin, all of creation (with the exception of the elect angels in heaven) fell with him. But Christ came to reconcile all things to the Father. He came to secure peace in heaven and on earth through redemption and judgment.

Listen to how Paul puts it. He speaks of Christ when he says, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister” (Colossians 1:15–23, ESV).

The same truth that Paul presents in the form of teaching, Luke presents as a narrative. In Luke we find a story concerning the victory that Jesus Christ has won to secure the redemption of God’s elect, to reconcile them to God, and to secure peace in heaven and on earth – a peace that is present now in part – a peace that will be here in full when Christ returns to judge and to make all things new. In the Gospel of Luke, we find a narrative or story.

Finally, let us consider the word “accomplished”.  It is found in Luke 1:1, and it’s very important. Jesus did not just say things and do things – he accomplished things. Can you see the difference? Everything that Jesus said and did, he did to accomplish the work that the Father gave him to do in eternity. Everything that Jesus said and did, he did to accomplish (or fulfill) the things that were said about him beforehand as recorded in the pages of the Old Testament from the first announcement of the gospel in Geneses 3:15 onward. Brothers and sisters, the Gospel of Luke is a divinely inspired masterpiece, especially when considered as a presentation of Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of the prophesies, promises, types, and shadows of the Old Testament Scriptures. Luke’s Gospel is dripping with Old Testament quotations and allusions. Clearly, he was concerned to present Jesus to us, not only as a great teacher, a miracle worker, as one who has authority over Satan and his demons, and as the one who was raised from the dead in victory, but as the Messiah – the Son of Adam and the Son of God –  who promised to Adam, Abraham, and Israel. Christ accomplished things, and Luke wants us to know for certain what those things were.   

As many of you know, the name of our church is drawn from Luke’s Gospel. It comes from that story found at the very end of this Gospel in chapter 24 where Jesus meets with two of his disciples on the road to a town called Emmaus. This is a very important story. It is no accident that Luke concludes his Gospel with it. He wants us to see it as a kind of climax as it pertains to the disciples understanding of Christ and his work. If you remember, these two disciples were discouraged and perplexed after the death of Christ. Jesus met with them on the road to Emmaus. And it was at Emmaus that Jesus began to open the eyes of his disciples concerning all that he had accomplished in fulfillment to all that was spoken of him in the entirety of the Old Testament.  

He spoke to these dejected disciples, saying,  “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:25–27, ESV)

And it was later that night that he appeared to more of his disciples in Jerusalem. “Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, ‘Peace to you!’” (Luke 24:36, ESV). They were still perplexed. A little later he spoke to them saying, “‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “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. You are witnesses of these things.’” (Luke 24:44–49, ESV)

How did Luke write his Gospel? He interviewed these witnesses whose eyes had been opened to the truth of Christ and to the truth of the Scriptures.  And what was the finished product? An orderly narrative concerning the things that Jesus Christ has accomplished in his life, death, burial, and resurrection.



May the Lord bless our consideration of his inspired word. May we grow in our certainty concerning the things we have been taught concerning Jesus the Messiah, his words of truth, and his finished work. And may it bring greater peace to your souls.

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