Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
(Luke 1:1-4, New International Version)
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
(John 20:30-31, English Standard Version)
Why is it that family stories so often grow into unchecked tall tales?
My family boasts of a 12-fingered great-great-grandmother who played the piano like Mozart. There’s also a tale of a mother whose baby was snatched out of her arms in the Wild West. According to my family lore, though the child was safely returned in exchange for food, the mother caught the first train out of Nebraska and never looked back. These stories help us feel connected to a shared past, but it’s difficult to know what’s fact and what’s fiction — because nobody took the time to write the real history down.
In the introduction to his account of Jesus’ earthly ministry, Luke states his reasons for writing. He wants to give Theophilus, who is likely a Gentile (non-Jewish) Christian, a reliable record of everything that serves as the foundation for his faith. Because of Luke’s care, many of the particulars of Christ’s birth, life and earthly ministry are recorded in great detail. Read the other three Gospels — Matthew, Mark and John — and you’ll notice significant overlap with Luke’s account. These accounts are a vital part of our spiritual “family history.”
Because Luke took the time and effort to write down everything he learned from the apostle Paul and other eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life, even now, 2,000 years later, we can be certain that these stories are reliable accounts of real people and actual events. And what Luke may have only intended for Theophilus, you have access to today. Thousand-year-old prophecies fulfilled and eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ actions and teachings — all investigated by a careful student — serve us well.
And unlike your odd family stories passed down through the generations, these are stories you can take to the bank. They’re written “so that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
Join us in meeting Jesus again — or for the first time — as you read through the Book of Luke, one chapter a day, starting tomorrow and ending on Christmas Eve. You won’t be disappointed with what Luke wrote down for you.
How can we rely on the Bible? Learn more about commonly asked questions concerning Scripture.
Melissa Long serves as the Writers Team Leader for Cru® U.S. Digital Strategies. Originally from Lookout Mountain, Georgia, Melissa currently resides on the edge of a mysterious swamp in Florida with her husband, Philip, and two lively teenagers who remind her daily that we’re all on a journey.
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