Lessons in Luke 002

Gabe Morris | Aug 6, 2017 | Luke 1:1-4 | Luke (G. Morris 2017)

SUGAR LAND BIBLE CHURCH

Gabe Morris

Lessons in Luke, Part 2 Luke 1:1-4

8-6-17

Good morning.  If you can turn to Luke, chapter 1, verse 1.  We are in two of our mini-series, mini-mini-series.  We entitled it Life Lessons with Luke.  And I hope from the last session we have gained a little more insight into the Book of Luke and the life of Luke.  Learning from Biblical characters can be a tremendous blessing.  I know that because I was blessed studying the Book of Luke.  Before we dive in can we pray?

Father in heaven, we thank  You for Your tremendous blessings upon our lives, upon this church, upon this state, upon this country Lord.  Father, we acknowledge our utter dependence upon  You and we confess that if it were not for You we would be truly lost.  So thank You, Lord, for the gift of salvation and thank You for this body of believers and thank You that You are coming soon.  And oh how we await that day; may it be soon.  And Father, bless this time in Your Word, ready our hearts and minds for it and use me as You see fit.  And it’s in Jesus’ name we pray, and God’s people said… Amen.

By way of review in our last session we looked at Luke and his life and his work.  We learned that Luke is a very unique book in terms of its content, its writer, its material and the like.  We learned that Luke is synoptic in nature, meaning Luke along with the books of Matthew and Mark make up a trio of books called the synoptic gospels.  They all have a similar look to them.  It’s also unique in terms of its length, it’s considered the longest book in the New Testament.  It covers the life of Christ, including his pre-birth up to the growth of the expansion of the church in Acts.  And this is unique because Luke would be considered the greatest contributor to the New Testament with Paul coming in second.

This book is also highly regarded in the scholarly circles because of its beauty, its eloquence and its literary ambition.  It’s also unique because of its content; I mentioned that Luke was the only book that speaks of Christ’s pre-birth.  Unique parables are also in Luke, events and quotations of Christ Jesus only found in Luke.  The author, Luke himself, also makes this a unique book. We learn from internal and external evidence that Luke really wrote the Book of Luke.  We also went the extra mile and discovered by building a scriptural case Luke was a Gentile, making him the only Gentile contributor to the New Testament.  And I know this can rub some Christians the wrong way, there are Christians who believe that Luke was a Jew and that’s okay; we’re still brothers and sisters at the end of the day… Amen.  It’s okay to believe Luke was a Jew and it’s okay to believe, me and Jesus, that Luke was a Gentile.

We also looked at the characteristics of Luke and made it applicational.  Luke was humble; he walked in humility.  How do we know that?  Because he was the type of person that was content with staying behind the scenes while God got all the glory, gained all the glory.  I mean, think about it, before these lessons in Luke if someone were to ask you what do you know about Luke you’d probably say the things that we’ve discussed, he was a doctor, he was a physician, he was a missionary companion of Paul, and that’s about it.

I had a conversation with a gentleman and he thought Luke was one of the twelve disciples.  But if you really begin to slow down and read Luke you will discover Luke’s personality, Luke’s attributes begin to surface.  Luke contributed the most to the New Testament and was content with remaining unnamed; that’s how humble he was.  We learned The Tyndale Bible Dictionary defines humility as considering the proper attitude of human beings toward their Creator.  Humility is a grateful and spontaneous awareness that life is a gift and it is manifested as an ungrudging and un-hypocritical acknowledge of absolute dependence upon God.  Life is a gift and Luke knew that.

We learned that Luke traveled with Paul until Paul’s dying day.  Paul said this in Ephesians 2:11-13, he said “remember,” he’s commanding the Ephesians to “remember that you were at that time” as unbelievers, “separate from Christ,” he’s speaking to Gentiles, “excluded from the common­wealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. [13] But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”  And I think Luke, being a Gentile, this had a tremendous impact on him.  Luke considered life a gift.  Luke knew that before, as a Gentile, before he was “in Christ” he was destined for doom, damnation and no doubt he was thankful for salvation, and no doubt thankful to the person who led him to Christ.  He was grateful and his life turned into total dependence upon God, so much so that Luke served Paul until the end.  He humbled himself, Luke did, and served, just like Jesus did.  Christ said, “For even the Son of man did not come to be served but to serve and gave His life for a ransom for many.”  Matthew 20:28 says that.  It’s safe to say that Luke was a humble man.

Because Luke was humble he was faithful and he faithfully served.  He was selfless, and as a result of his selflessness he was appreciated by Paul.  Paul loved this man, Luke; Paul called Luke “Beloved,” the beloved physician.”  [Colossians 4:14, “Luke, the beloved physician, sends you his greetings, and also Demas.”]  Have you ever said to someone I just love that guy, I just love that girl?  Why would you say that?  Because you see the undeniable selflessness in that person, sacrificial service to the Lord. And Paul said he loved Luke.  Humility, service, and selflessness, we can easily apply these attributes of Luke in our lives, being content with God getting all the glory and for others to be edified.

So we pick it up from here and we continue in our study.  And how else can we describe Luke?  Luke was not an eyewitness.  Let’s look at Luke 1:1 again, it says this: “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us,  [2] just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word,” let’s stop there.  Luke is trying to tell Theophilus, his audience, the person he’s writing to, he’s saying what I’m going to do is record this in a book, these testimonies, eyewitness testimonies which passed on to us, I’m going to do that like a journalist, like a historian.  I’ll find these individual eyewitness testimonies and servant, he called them servants of the Word, and interview them and record their testimonies.  That’s what Luke meant by “just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants.”

So by this admission Luke is saying he was not an eyewitness but rather a second generation believer, if you will.  And notice how Luke carefully includes himself in the first set of believers, “us” in verse 1.  He says, “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us.”  There are some who think that Luke was an eyewitness because they like to include Luke and the 70; remember the 70 that Jesus sent out in Luke 10:1-24.  In Luke 10:1 it says, “Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him  [Jesus] to every city and place where He Himself was going to come.”  There it is, Luke was an eyewitness, right?  Well, doesn’t Luke confirm that in verse 12, he said “accomplished among us”?

There’s a problem, however.  That phrase, “they were handed down,” see that, “they were handed down together” that phrase there’s one technical word in the Greek and that is paradidomi, BDAG defines it as giving over, hand delivering, entrusting someone else with.  That’s a technical word; what is a technical word?  A technical word is a word that means the same thing no matter where it’s found in the Bible.  For example, church, the word “church” is a technical word.  “Israel” is a technical word.  Those words mean the same thing wherever it’s found, wherever it’s used in the Bible.  So the fact that Luke wrote the phrase paradidomi, just as they were handed down, stresses the legitimacy of the traditions of Jesus, the teachings of Jesus, the deeds of Jesus being passed down to Luke, being handed over.  It was, in other words, entrusted to Luke.

So if it’s a technical term we should find this phrase in other sections of the Bible, right?  And the answer is yes.  Paul uses the same emphasis in his writings.  Was Paul considered an eye witness to Christ’s life and ministry?  Technically no, he was not.  In 1 Corinthians 11:23 Paul said this: , this is considered the theology of the sacraments we just partook of, the Lord’s supper.  Paul said, “For I received” a technical word, paralambánō, “from the Lord that which I also delivered” that’s that technical word paradidomi, and the verse goes on to explain the Lord’s Supper.  [“… to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread.”

Paul, are you saying you were there in the Upper Room with Jesus and His disciples as they broke bread?  Well, that’s no, of course not.  How then was Paul privy to these intimate details that only the apostles knew and experienced.  Well, if you look in… we know that Paul and Peter, the person that Jesus Christ gave the keys to the kingdom Himself, Peter, they had a meeting in Galatians 1:18.  Galatians 1:18 talks about a fifteen day meeting that they had.  [Galatians 1:18, “Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days.”]

The contents of this meeting is are not revealed but you can safely say they were not just shooting the breeze.  So why is Paul saying he “received from the Lord” and what helped me out was a commentary which talks about this technical word paradidomi.  It says this: “The two verbs Paul uses here, “I received” paralambánō and passed on, paradidomi are words the apostle sometimes uses as technical words for receiving and passing on church traditions and teachings.  Because the teaching of the apostles, The Twelve, was derived from Jesus Himself Paul is able to say that ultimately he received it “from the Lord.”

So what am I trying to get at here?  Luke is saying the same thing; Luke is handing down to Theophilus what was handed down to him, the tradition, the life, the words of Jesus Christ were entrusted to him, to Luke orally through eyewitness accounts.  Luke is saying he is not an eyewitness but a researcher.  Why is this important to us.  Did not Jesus say “Blessed are they who did not see and  yet believed?”   You, we, are in a special category of believers if we have not seen Jesus yet you trusted and believe in Jesus.  Jesus declared this a special blessing to those who believed without seeing.

What other characteristics can we extract from Luke’s life?  He was a faithful historian.  Again, when we read the Book of Luke and Acts with care you will discover that he was just that?  A faithful historian.  Luke was not just recording a bunch of history or data.  Notice in Luke 1:3, let me read from verse 1 again, “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, [2] just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word,” here’s verse 3, “it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus.”

So we see that Luke was careful and cautious in his investigations.  He did not just investigate some things of Christ and the church; he investigated everything carefully Scripture says.  Luke is saying I carefully investigated, carefully studied it, now I’m carefully teaching it.  In fact, Luke was so careful God saw fit to include his account in the Gospels along with the other three of course.  And let’s not forget in Luke 1, look at verse 1, Luke 1:1, Luke said “many have undertaken to compile an account of the things….”  This implies that when Luke wrote this there was a tremendous interest in Christ’s life, this man, Jesus, and only Luke along with three other Gospels, made the final cut, and that’s it as far as being included in the New Testament canon.

So what we have from Luke and Acts is an accurate chronological record of history.  You say “chronological”?  It says here only Luke, by the way, claimed to record Christ’s life in a chronological order.  Look at verse 3 again, “it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order…” chronological.  In other words, Luke’s account is trustworthy.  Jesus did walk this earth, He did live a sinless life, He did do all the things the Bible says He did.  He did die on an “old rugged cross” like we sang this morning.  Luke was a faithful historian.

You know, when I pondered the thought of history I think about the extraordinary times we live in today.  I think about how we as Christians and for those of us that are parents we have the crucial responsibility of teaching our children accurate history, actually on two fronts, one being Christianity and as Americans one being with our country, the history of our country.  Remember God said, or was it Proverbs 22 David said, “Train up a child in the way he should go….”  God never said those words for nothing.  He had a specific purpose for that instruction.  What does the rest of the verse say, “…so that he shall not depart from it,” it’s no secret that we live in an anti-Jesus, anti-Bible and anti-Christian world today.

And as a parent are we fulfilling our God-given mandate, teaching our children the things of God.  Because let me tell you there is a disturbing trend going on today, even in Christianity.  There are Christians today that want nothing more than for your children to embrace the homosexual lifestyle, nothing more.  Christian leaders dropping like flies giving in to the culture of today.  Since the Bible doesn’t say much about… what do they call it, gender identity?  Or sexual orientation?  The Bible doesn’t talk about that, right?  So it’s okay to entertain those ideas they say.  Give me a break!  There are Christians today, both parents and teens who say sleeping around is just a part of adolescent life.  There are Christians out there who believe that evolution is true, it’s fact, or that the Bible contains errors, or that there are other ways to God, not just Jesus, there’s another way, just fill in the blank.  There are Christian leaders who believe Christian and Islam can theologically coincide.

We have a tremendous duty as Christians to pass on to the next generation, to our children the precise and accurate rendition of Christianity of the Bible, of history, of Jesus.  And it shouldn’t stop there.  Are your children, are they learning the history of our great country accurately, or at all for that matter?  Are they learning about the great founders of our country, because there’s another troubling trend in our educational systems.  Are you aware what your child, a teen, is learning in school?  There are recent studies that say American students by and large are disturbingly ignorant of U.S. history.  The experts are saying this is due to failing schools, substandard teachers, and get this, textbooks.

Two authors by the name of Gary Tobin and Dennis Ybarra wrote a book entitled The Trouble With Textbooks: Distorting History and Religion, and in that book they document a five year study of the most widely used textbooks in American history, geography and social studies.  You ready for this?   They found over 500 blatant errors.  They say history and religion are being distorted in every 50 states, in every school of every one of the 50 states.  Unbelievable!  They’re also discovering that textbook writers don’t know much about these subjects. Some of the well credential scholars whose names appear on the cover have very little to do with the content of the book; they’re just using the names to boost credibility and that’s it.

Most books are littered with propaganda, communistic innuendos, dumbing down of subjects, whitewashing and glorifying Islam, some of them.  This is U.S. textbooks, books that antichristian, anti-Semitic, anti-Israel writings in them.  Some textbooks make excuses for Arab and Muslim terrorism.  One textbook says, “The U.S. support of Israel is the cause for terrorism, including 911.”  Shall I go on?  Muslim beliefs are stated as fact without a clear qualifier, such as Muslims believe this or Muslims believe that.  One textbook said Jesus was a Palestinian.

There’s an entity called Textbook Advocates, their sole purpose is to review U.S. textbooks for those who desire to stay informed.  Here’s a sample of what they found in the U.S. textbooks.  This is The American Government and Politics Today by Schmidt and others.  [Steffen W. Schmidt]  This textbook is for high schoolers, 9th through 12th grade and they waste no time, on page 10 it’s talking about property.  “Property, especially wealth creating property, can be seen as giving its owner political power and liberty to do whatever he or she wants.  At the same time the ownership of property immediately creates any quality in society.”  Close quote.  Can you say hogwash?  It looks to me like this textbook is discouraging students from diligence and hard work and success.  And if they are a property owner they should be ashamed of themselves.  That’s what it looks like to me.

Here’s a zinger, same book, page 98.  “Early colonists were intolerant of religious beliefs that did not quite conform to those held by the majority of citizens in their own community.”  Same book, page 152, “African Americans continue to feel the sense of injustice of race and this feeling is often not apparent to or appreciated by the majority of white America.”  If this is not rank falsity, propaganda at work I don’t know what is.  Here’s another book, Magruder’s American Government, on page 3 there’s an image of the Statue of Liberty and this is what the caption says:  “The Statue of Liberty is an enduring symbol of American democracy.”  I thought it was for liberty.  Same book, a good thing you’re seated, page 10 says this: “But what is justice?  The term is difficult to define for justice is a concept, an idea, an invention of the human mind.  Like other concepts, such as truth, liberty and fairness, justice means whatever the people want it to mean.”

And no, this is not a joke.  And what you’ve just seen is just the tip of the iceberg.  This should raise great concern, don’t you think?  What seems to be apparent here is that nowadays authors, scholars, entities, are sacrificing their integrity in exchange for promoting a political agenda or perhaps gaining scholarly acceptance.  They would rather tell lies, falsity, or promote utter bias and subjectivity instead of truth or objectivity when it comes to history.

Praise the Lord that Luke was not this kind of a person.  Thank the Lord that Luke set the scholarly standard of scholarly integrity.  As I survey the Old Testament I can’t help but notice this word being used over and over and over again; it’s the word “remember,” remember!  Remember what?  Remember what God did for you Israel.  Remember what God took you out of?  Moses said this in Exodus 13:3, “…Remember this day,” history, right? “which you went out of Egypt from the house of slavery….”  Moses wanted the Israelites to preserve this record of history.  For what?  Why?  If you read down, Exodus 13:8 it says so, “You shall tell your son” the next generation.  [Exodus 13:8, “You shall tell your son on that day, saying, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’”

Deuteronomy 4:9-10 says, “Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons. [10]“Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb….”  Do you think God cares about history?  Do you think God cares about accurate history?  These declarations of Israel about remembering contain very detailed information, dates, people.  Do you think God cares about details?

Beyond that does not God command us to remember in the New Testament?  Think about communion, it causes us to remember the blood and the body of our Lord.  We read earlier that we are to remember that we as Gentiles were formerly far off; we’re supposed to remember that, separate from God and from what Christ has done.  We are brought, because of what Christ has done we were brought near.  That’s in Ephesians 2:11.  [Ephesians 2:11, “Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called ‘Uncircumcision’ by the so-called ‘Circumcision,’ which is performed in the flesh by human hands—“]

Or how about when Peter reminds us, this is what 2 Peter 3:1-2, Peter says, “… I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, [2] that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.”  It’s obvious God cares about history and commands us to remember.  Therefore we, are held accountable for that history, for that truth being passed down.  Thank You Lord that Luke was careful and accurate and orderly in his account of Christ’s life, and of the church.  Amen!  He was a faithful historian.

Speaking of history since the introduction of both Luke and Acts give indication that they were written in sequence, and Acts records Paul’s life until his final two year imprisonment in Rome, and before his death.  So by knowing that knowledge we can confidently date the Book of Luke in the early 60’s, 60’s A.D.  The Book of Luke was written around the 60’s.  (Not 1960’s)  He was not an eyewitness; he was a faithful and accurate historian.

This brings us to our next characteristic and he was a faithful theologian and preacher.  Notice Luke 1:1-4 again, it says: “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, [2] just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, [3] it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus;” notice verse 4, “so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.”

Because Luke was humble he acknowledged his utter dependence on God; it affected everything he did, he put his hands to, he was faithful with the facts, he handled history with great care.  Further­more it affected how he viewed truth.  Luke’s desire was for his audience to not only receive what had been taught but also know the certainty of it.  They could have confidence in it.  He said, “so that you may know the exact truth,” the Greek word for “exact truth” here in verse 4 is the word asphaleian which is translated “certainty.”  The New King James Version and the NIV, I think provide a better translation in regard to asphaleian in verse 4.  Here’s what the New King James Version says, verse 4, “that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.”

BDAG describes that, asphaleian as the stability of an idea or statement, the firmness of it.  In other words, these eyewitnesses accounts that Luke handed down, you can be confident of their authen­ticity and their reliability.  This speaks volumes of Luke as a historian but also to the fact that he was a careful theologian as well.  If you read Luke carefully you will discover he weaves theology all throughout this book.  Luke’s beautiful theme that runs throughout this book is that Jesus is the Son of Man… He is the Son of Man.  There’s themes to books; Matthew’s theme was Jesus the king.   Mark’s theme was Jesus the servant.  John’s Gospel the theme was Jesus the Son of God.  Luke’s dominant theme in this book is Jesus the Son of Man.

Bruce mentioned Luke 19:10 and it says this, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”  You’ll also notice if you compare Luke to the other Gospels there’s a lot more compassion in Luke, humanity found in his accounts.  There’s a strong concentration on people, you’ll notice that, people and their plight, their struggles, their sorrow, their emotion.  Consider detailed portions of Zacharias and Elizabeth, Mary’s relative, you will find intimate and privileged information that Luke had access to, like the barrenness of Elizabeth.  In regard to Zacharias Luke says “fear gripped him when he encountered the angel Gabriel. [Luke 1:12, “Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him.”]  Or when Elizabeth and Mary met, right, the baby leaping for joy in the womb.  [Luke 1:41, “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.”]

Zacharias and Elizabeth were just two people that were in love with God and we have the privilege to have a glimpse in their lives because of Luke.  On the topic of humanity consider the parable of the Good Samaritan, you can’t get any more human than the Good Samaritan, right?  Robbers, beating a man half to death, a priest and a Levite passing him by.  You know it’s interesting about the priest and the Levite passing him by, the priest, remember the priest, they had the highest calling, duty, in serving in the temple and ministering the sacrifices.  Right?  The Levite, he was in charge of the maintenance and the service of the temple and some say that they passed by because of certain reasons, they didn’t want to touch the half dead man in risk of defiling themselves.  They couldn’t touch a potentially dead man, they would put themselves in jeopardy because they worked at the temple.  That’s true, but if you read carefully they were coming down from Jerusalem.  In other words their priestly and Levitical activities were over for the day.  They clocked out.  So why then then did they pass by?  Because they had zero compassion.  Then the Samaritan, the half breed, a man full of compassion, who cared not for external circum­stances or racial differences or stereo types, he saw the need and he met it.

The Book of Luke is filled with examples like these.  And the reason this is so is because Luke has an underlying purpose here; he is painting the bigger picture of the humanity and compassion of the Son of Man, “For the Son of Man,” Luke 19:10, “has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”  One scholar said this, he said: Jesus alone is the Greek ideal of human perfection.  The Book of Luke can be conveniently divided into four sections.  The introduction of the Son of Man, Luke 1:1-4, chapter 4-13, in this section you’ll notice a strong emphasis on Christ’s ancestry, His birth, His early years, the early years of the Lord.  Luke even brilliantly summarizes Christ’s 30 years of preparation in one single verse; Luke 2:52 says, “And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men.”

The second section can be divided the ministry of the Son of Man, Luke chapter 4-9:50, this section obviously covers Christ’s ministry.  And you’ll notice in that section Christ’s authority over everything He comes in contact with: demons, nature, sin, sickness, disease, men, traditions of men, things like that.

The third section, the rejection of the Son of Man; in this section you’ll notice a growing and intensifying opposition to Christ, to the Son of Man, the fiery conflict between Him and the Pharisees, where they accused Christ of being demonically possessed.  And then you’ll see His later focus on His disciples, teaching them discipline of following Him, being His followers.  And then the fourth section covers, chapter 19:28-24:53 and that’s the crucifixion of the Son of Man.

And these four sections capture Luke’s fundamental theme in the greatest way: Christ as the Son of Man, especially in chapter 15.  In chapter 15 are three parables, the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son, better known as the prodigal son.  And all three parables speak of things being lost or a person being lost and then found again.  And as a result there is celebration; one scholar called this section the gospel of the outcasts.  It speaks purely and clearly of God’s great concern for the sinner, the unbeliever.

Now we must remember in this context, in chapter 15, Jesus was speaking to unbelieving Pharisees who were angry at Jesus for hanging out and having dinner with unbelieving Jewish people, sinners.  These parables are in perfect alignment with Luke’s key verse, Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”  Consider what Christ said in Luke 5:31, here Christ was given a big reception by the future disciple, Levi, better known as Matthew.  The Scripture says the Pharisees are grumbling and Jesus said this.  “And Jesus answered and said to them,” “them” being the Pharisees, ‘“It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick.’  [32] ‘I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.’”

Let’s go back to Luke 19:10, in this context, this is the story of the Zacchaeus, the rich Jewish tax collector.  Why don’t we read that, Luke 19:1, It says, “He” that’s Jesus, “entered Jericho and was passing through. [2] And there was a man called by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich. [3] Zacchaeus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature.  [4] So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way. [5] When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.’  [6] And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly. [7] When they saw it, they all began to grumble,” the Pharisees, “saying, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.’ [8] Zacchaeus stopped and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.’  [9] And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. [10] For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”’

You see here in verse 5 when Jesus said salvation has come to this house, that’s the Greek word soteria, you’ll recognize the word sotaria as in soteriology, as in the doctrine of salvation.  This is the same soteria such as the one justified at the point of faith in Christ Jesus… same soteria, the soul is saved.  Luke is using the same soteria that he used in the Book of Acts, 14:12, when he said, “And there is no one else, for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which he must be saved,” soteria.  Luke is using the same soteria that Paul used in his epistles. Luke traveled with Paul, correct?  Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for” soteria, “salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

This theme of the Son of Man, God’s great concern for the sinner, is skillfully woven throughout this book.  Consider the thief, when Jesus was on the cross, there were two thieves with Jesus in Luke 23:39, “One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, ‘Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!’  [40] But the other answered, and rebuking him said, ‘Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?’  [41] ‘And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.’  [42] And he was saying Jesus, remember me when you come in Your kingdom.  [42] And He said to him, ‘Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”’

Here Luke lays out a historical scenario for salvation.  He was a faithful theologian and accute and sentenced sinner who faced death comes to his senses.  Obviously he believed because of what Jesus said, “‘Today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”’ This is exciting.  Why is this exciting?  Because I was a sinner once, I was lost in the world, you were lost, once a sinner, in the world.  Hind sight is 20/20, right?

Looking back on my life I can clearly see God seeking my life in my lost state.  Some of you heard my testimony I gave during Cowboy night a few years ago.  Before I met Christ I was steeped in gangs and drugs and all that stuff.  My parents were Christians but that doesn’t secure my salvation.  I once robbed a house while the owners were in it.  Fabbi’s like oooh.  Some of you are saying let’s not invite Gabriel over for lunch.  [Laughter]  One of my best friends survived a gunshot to the head because of a drug deal gone bad.  That’s the kind of people I hung around with (he was recently released from prison last year; he called me.  Hindsight is 20/20, looking back I can see God’s mercy.  God was chasing me, He was seeking me.  God intervened.  He had my number.  In my worst state He was seeking me and He sent His Son for me, to seek and to save that which was lost.

And you know what else the thief on the cross teaches?  That it’s never too late to believe in Jesus Christ.  You could be on your death bed and God would still gladly receive you no matter what you have done.  And then celebrate.  But you must fulfill one condition and that’s believe.  Well Gabe, you don’t know what I did?  I’ve done some ugly stuff, some wicked and evil stuff in my lifetime.  My response would be God can save the worst of sinners.  He can save the WORST of sinners.

I want to show you a short clip of the testimony of Jeffrey Dahmer, not to worry, this is safe to watch.  Many of you are familiar with that name so I won’t go into the details.  In 1992 he was convicted and sentenced to 15 terms of life in prison.  In 1994 he was murdered by a fellow prison inmate.  I was 17 years old at that time.  And before his death he did an interview with MSNBC; his dad was also there.  So there’s an interviewer, Jeffrey Dahmer and his dad.  And I happened to stumble on this video a few years back and I’ll just show you a couple of minutes of it.  [cannot hear/understand video]

Thank you.  When I heard about his death in 1994 I thought he deserved it.  From a human perspective this man should be in hell, but not from God’s perspective.  No one should go to hell.   2 Peter 3:9 says, “God wishes that no one should perish.”  That was the whole reason why He sent His Son.  God can save the worst of sinners.  Luke knew this truth, he taught it, he preached it.  In Acts 16:10 it says, “When he had seen the vision, immediately we” remember Luke is speaking from the first person now, he is including himself in this account, “we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”  He was a faithful preacher as well as a faithful theologian.

What’s the takeaway here?  You too can be faithful in what you do.  How many of us are theologians?  Everyone should be raising their hand.  We are all students of God’s Word, Amen!  We should all be faithful theologians.  How many of us are teachers?  Parents should be raising their hands.  As teachers we have an obligation to teach the Bible, Christianity, history, accurately, objectively to our children, to the next generation.

Luke was not an eyewitness  yet he became the most prolific writer of the New Testament.  He was a faithful historian, and his purpose was stated in verse 3 and 4.  He says the purpose of the book was “so that we may know the exact truth about the things we have been taught.”  [Luke 1:4]  We can count on the teachings of the Bible.  Amen!  There may be some of you who find yourselves in the same situation as the thief on the cross. You’re lost or you’re unsure of your relationship with God.  Luke says there’s good news; Christ came to “seek and save those who are lost.”  [Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”]

Well, how do you get found if  you’re lost?  The Bible teaches one condition… ONE condition that can save a lost sinner and that is by faith, faith in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.  He can save the worst of sinners.  He lived, He died, was buried and was raised proving He was the Son of Man and He did it for you, He did it for us.  All you do is believe.  Now that’s good news, Amen.  No matter how lost you are or what you did God still loves you.  He has enough power to save you, like the song says, My God is mighty to save, He is mighty to save.  If you exercise faith in Jesus Christ congratulations, you will one day be with Him in Paradise.  And if you have not I am available to talk after the service.

Shall we pray.  Heavenly Father, we thank You for what Your Word teaches us about Your truth, that You have come to seek and save that which was lost. We just thank You for Your Word and how it changes us from the inside out.  Lord, we ask that  You just be with us the remainder of our week as we give you all the glory and the praise, and it’s in Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen