By David Faust
Biblical authors came from many different walks of life. Moses and David were shepherds. Daniel was a government official. Matthew was a tax collector. Peter and John were fishermen. Paul was a tentmaker.
Two books of the New Testament (the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts) were written by a physician. The apostle Paul referred to Luke as “our dear friend . . . the doctor” (Colossians 4:14). Paul faced many physical hardships during his missionary travels, so the Lord provided Paul with his own personal physician who accompanied him on some of his journeys.
An Orderly Account
Dr. Luke was well educated, familiar with the techniques of formal research. A meticulous historian, he wrote an “orderly account” of the life of Christ after he first “carefully investigated everything from the beginning” (Luke 1:3). Guided by the Holy Spirit, Luke evidently interviewed first-century individuals who “were eyewitnesses and servants of the word” (v. 2) and used their direct testimony in the preparation of his Gospel.
But the product of his pen is far more than dry, dusty history. Luke tells the story factually, but he doesn’t leave out authentic human emotion. The old priest Zechariah marvels at the stunning news that he and his wife will have a son—John the Baptist, the Messiah’s forerunner. The youthful Mary visits her aging relative Elizabeth for three months—both of them at different stages of miraculous pregnancies—and Mary breaks out in a joyful song of praise (Luke 1:46-55).
Luke provides the Bible’s most detailed account of the birth of Jesus, surrounding the story with historical details about the emperor, the governor, and a Roman census (Luke 2:1-3). In crowded Bethlehem, a young mom wraps her baby in strips of cloth and lays him in a manger because there is no guest room available. Shepherds working the late shift nearby are terrified by angels, amazed to see the baby in the manger, and eager to tell others about their experience.
A Soul-Searching Close-up
In the midst of all the action, Luke zooms in for a soul-searching close-up of Jesus’ mother. Twice in chapter two, Luke tells us that Mary treasured certain things in her heart.
After the account of Jesus’ birth, Luke records that the shepherds gave public testimony about what they had seen. “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). Years later, Joseph and Mary discovered their 12-year-old prodigy in Jerusalem “sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions,” amazing them with “his understanding and his answers” (Luke 2:46, 47). Brilliant young Jesus humbly accompanied his parents back to Nazareth and was “obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:51).
We all treasure things in our hearts. As a dad, my parental treasure chest includes camping out with my three kids in a tent barely big enough to accommodate one person, tossing a football in the backyard on crisp autumn evenings, feeling grateful and awed when all of them were baptized, and other sweet memories too numerous to count.
Treasure is a strong word. Do we, like Mary, recognize in Jesus the greatest treasure of all? Do we spend enough time not doing, not pursuing, not working—but simply pondering and appreciating what God has done? Something tells me that’s exactly what Dr. Luke would prescribe for our spiritual health.
David Faust is president of Cincinnati Christian University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and past Executive Editor of The Lookout.
The Lookout’s Bible Reading Plan for June 9, 2013
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
1 Kings 4, 5
1 Kings 6, 7
1 Kings 8
1 Kings 9, 10
1 Kings 11
1 Kings 12