“Reading the gospels one after another seems so redundant,” she said to me.
I continued to think about her words long into the day. I remembered thinking the very same thing once, after all, each gospel tells the same stories of the time Jesus spent on this earth.
And so this past week, I finished Matthew, made my way through Mark and began Luke. But this time, I was not feeling redundancy. The words were falling on me new in Luke.
Luke, the doctor, pays attention to details. He weaves each story, filling me in on little things that widen the scope of my understanding. Luke is a Gentile, seeing the events from a different perspective. His view is from the outside in.
Luke is a most vigorous champion of the outsider. An outsider himself, the only Gentile in an all-Jewish cast of New Testament writers, he shows how Jesus includes those who typically were treated as outsiders by the religious establishment of the day: women, common laborers (sheepherders), the radically different (Samaritans), the poor.
(Eugene Peterson, The Message, page 1848)
Luke is like me – he has been an outsider and so he takes note of the outsiders he encounters. But more so, he addresses interaction and relationships and the manner in which we should interact. He offers this wisdom:
- “There’s trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them. Popularity contests are not truth contests.”
- “Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst.”
- “If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity?”
- “Help and give without expecting a return.”
- “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults – unless, of course, you want the same treatment.”
In reading Luke, I am finding the outsiders coming out of the woodwork to be near to Jesus, to converse with Him, to touch Him and to sit down to a meal with Him. They just want to be with Him. In Chapter 6, Luke tells us to “Live generously.” Probably the best advice we can be given. For it is then, others will be drawn to His life within us.
Most of us, most of the time, feel left out – misfits.
(Eugene Peterson, The Message, page 1846)
Feeling left out is common to us all. May we remember and may we be much like Luke – and notice the outsider.
“Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never – I promise – regret it. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back – given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”
(Luke 6:38, MSG).
May the words in the gospels fall on us fresh bringing new insights this week as we continue through Luke and into John!