Luke’s version of the Nativity Story is unique. His thesis was to provide certainty to a Roman official, the most excellent Theophilus, who was struggling to believe what he had been taught about Jesus (Luke 1:1-4).
Now, the name “Theophilus” means “friend of God.” That is to say, he is legit. He’s not blowing smoke. He genuinely wants certainty about Jesus. This holiday season is a great time to examine and test our own hearts.
Sam was a young single mom who joined our community group for a season. She’d been through a lot in life and was searching for a better way forward. She participated in our spiritual discussions and Bible studies. After some months she began pressing the question: “How do I really know God exists? Can we really know?”
I said: “Yes.” And I walked her through some basic reasons to believe. During that conversation a light went on for her and she said, “I am realizing that I don’t think I want God to exist.”
Then there was Jess. She longed for years to become a Christian but was under the impression that modern science had thoroughly disproven Christianity. Then she got her hands on a book that demonstrated the truth of Christianity, and, after reading it, she gladly became a Christian.
Theophilus is genuinely seeking and Luke is eager to meet his need. How, though, does Luke go about meeting this challenge? He does so by showing that the Christ prophesied hundreds of years earlier throughout the Old Testament is fulfilled in spades in the coming of Jesus as recorded in the New Testament (2 Peter 1:19).
Furthermore, having been a disciple of the Apostle Paul, having the precise mind and method of a doctor, and having researched everything from the very first, means Luke, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is qualified to take up the task of providing certainty about Jesus for Theophilus, and also, for the rest of us.
Consider the highlights from just the first four chapters of Luke’s outstanding work:
1 – Luke’s account is fully consistent with the Old Testament story line, naturally and seamlessly picking up where the Old Testament left off. (Compare Malachi 4:1-6 to Luke 1:5-80.)
2 – Luke includes the fulfillment of many key Old Testament promises and prophecies, showing that what the New Testament says about Jesus matches with what the Old Testament predicted and promised (Luke 1:13-17, 26-33, 2:25-38, 4:16-21, 24:25-27).
3 – There is the glorious appearance of angels, who are essential in Israelite tradition for inaugurating something new in God’s unfolding redemptive plan to save a people for his name (Luke 1:5-17, 26-33, 2:8-14 compare with Hebrews 2:1-4).
4 – Again, in keeping with ancient Jewish tradition, there is exuberant Old Testament style worship as a necessary response to the mighty works of God among his people, being especially so with the arrival of the Christ (Luke 1:46-55, 67-79, 2:25-33).
5 – Then there are major facts, such as, abundant eyewitness testimony, accuracy with political and historical details, with events tied to actual geographical locations, with customs, and so on and so forth, all of which demonstrates full reliability of Luke’s gospel account (Luke 1:2, 5, 8-9, 26-27, 2:1-3, 21-24, 3:1-2).
6 – Lastly and most importantly, the arrival of Jesus as the Christ is the beginning of Satan’s eternal demise and the salvation and liberation of all who shall repent and believe (Luke 3:4-14, 4:1-13, 18-19, 24:45-48)!
Only four chapters in and Luke is off to an extraordinary start in confirming the gospel.
If you are seeking more than the empty consumerism and materialism of our secular holiday season, you could consider: First, per Luke 3:4-14, prepare yourself for Jesus. Second, per Luke 4:17-21, receive Jesus and what he wants to do in and through your life for the glory of God and the good of others.
Let Christmas become far more than stuff. May you find certainty, and transcendent joy, in Jesus this holiday season.
Robin Martens is the pastor of Kinnaird Park Community Church.