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Why Should Women Read Luke?

In addition to Luke’s portrayal of Jesus as the compassionate Savior of sinners (e.g., 4:18; chap. 15; 18:9-14; 19:1-10), Luke, among the four Gospels, gives the most attention to the women involved in Jesus’ life and to those who received healing and mercy from Him. For example, Mary and Elizabeth are prominent in Luke’s detailed account of the events surrounding Jesus’ birth (chaps. 1–2). Some suggest that Luke composed Mary’s hymn (1:39-56), implying that the literary masterpiece could not have come from a young peasant girl. Such a conjecture dismisses divine inspiration, which by definition surpasses human ability and giftedness. Whether the song came to her in a moment of inspiration or over time in private meditation, Mary was noted by Luke as the human composer of these meaningful and beautifully fashioned words that have been recorded for the generations. The mother of the Lord Jesus was indeed an extraordinary woman. Only Luke includes the encounter at the temple with Anna, who prophesied about Christ (2:36-38). Luke also acknowledges the women who supported Christ during His earthly ministry (8:1-3) and announced the resurrection (23:27-31; 23:55–24:11).

Hard Question

How can Jesus legitimately claim both to fulfill the law (Mt 5:17) and yet break one of the Ten Commandments by violating the Sabbath? The Gospels include three Sabbath controversies— two in Lk 6:1-11 and another in Jn 5. The origin of the Sabbath is not only rooted in the creation account and in the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament but was also deeply grounded in the Jewish rabbinic tradition upheld particularly by the Pharisees. Realizing that in the Babylonian captivity God was punishing His people for defying the law, a body of oral law and commentaries on the law emerged to protect the people from breaking it. By the first century a.d., this burgeoning interpretive tradition was revered as having the same authority as Scripture and was even attributed to Moses. Regulations for keeping the Sabbath (and other areas of Jewish life) were practiced and enforced with a ferocious sense of legalism that entirely obscured God’s intention for the function and application of the law. Jesus did not break God’s law, but He forcefully denounced the legalism of the Jewish religious leaders and refused to bow to equate their rules with God’s Word. Weekly observance of the Sabbath (the seventh day of every week reserved for worship and rest) provided fertile ground for public conflict between the religious leaders and Jesus. Jesus observed the Sabbath but not according to their oral traditions and ceremonial additions to the law. For Him it remained a day of rest and worship. In the conflicts regarding the Sabbath, Jesus made several points:

• the Sabbath is for man’s benefit (Mk 2:27);

• the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath (Lk 6:5);

• the Sabbath is for good deeds (v. 9);

• God the Father and the Son both work on the Sabbath (Jn 5).


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