- How do the differences between the birth narratives in Matthew and Luke help explain the emphases of each one in their portrayals of Jesus?
There are two infancy narratives on the birth of Jesus. The difference is due to the intended target audiences of both the gospels. Mathew’s target audience is the Jewish community, whereas Luke’s target audience is the gentile community.
- From beginning to end, Luke tries to characterize Jesus as a Jewish prophet who has been sent down by God. A few of the characteristics of Hebrew prophets were that they were rejected, opposed and killed by the very same people they were sent to. We know that Jesus was rejected by the people he was sent to. They also opposed him which is evident from when Jesus was not welcomed in a Samaritan village. Furthermore, in his Gospel, Luke presented Jesus as having full knowledge that he was a prophet and that he would die. Moreover, Luke relates to a story in which Jesus resurrects a dead person. This is similar to the miracle of prophet Elijah mentioned in Jewish scriptures.
- Poverty and oppression are as old as life itself. Poverty and oppression were even rampant during the time of Jesus. Throughout the Gospel, Luke keeps mentioning the poor and oppressed people. The Luke describes the religious figures of the time showing contempt for the oppressed. They were reported to be ‘money lovers’ who ‘devoured the houses of the widows’. They were more inclined towards filling their coffers while having no regards for the suffering of the oppressed (Luke 16:14; 20:47.) Luke mentions the parable of the good Samaritan, in which people walked past the injured man without helping him (Luke 10:30-37). Similarly, Jesus helped a woman by curing her (13:16) and had women followers. These examples highlight that the poor and women were one of the principal concerns of Luke.
- Luke 15: 11 – 32 is the most interesting parable and perhaps the most beautiful text in the entire gospel. It contains the story of the younger and elder son. Luke presents God as a father of mercies for a number of reasons. Out of these reasons, the most important is that it wants to show that no matter how much you sin, no matter what type of sin it is, a sincere repentance will result in God’s forgiveness. Typically, mercy means forgiveness. However, in the gospel of Luke, it means much more than that. In the gospel, Luke is talking about not just physical acts of mercy but spiritual as well. Counselling the doubtful and guiding the ignorant are all acts of spiritual mercy. Since these lines are about the two prodigal sons, the father goes out every time to meet the two sons. This shows his merciful attitude.
- The Gospel of Luke is without any doubt one of the most popular gospels of all. By reading the preface of the gospel, we get an idea how much knowledgeable Luke is. By starting of his gospel with a standard “historiographic”, Luke offers an insight into his knowledge and the magnitude of the work that he has undertook. The presence of the historiographic preface indicates that extensive research has been done by the author. Since gospel of Luke contains it, we can be sure about the authenticity of the work. Moreover, unlike the other gospels, it is not based on the narratives of other people but on strong references. Lastly, the style of writing binds readers to it. All these factors count for its attractiveness to everyone.