By Jerry Harris
We’ve been ready for COVID-19 to end for two-plus years, but throughout this season I have seen the faithfulness of God in many ways. I’m reminded of Jesus’ words:
Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. . . . For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well (Luke 12:22-23, 30-31).
COVID-19 has certainly seemed like a big deal. The virus has been no respecter of persons . . . it’s invaded 184 countries. But the coronavirus seems like a minor nuisance when compared with the deeper problem of sin, which has infected every person who’s ever lived.
That’s why Luke’s Gospel is so important. While Matthew targeted his Jewish countrymen with his Gospel and Mark focused on Simon Peter’s personal experience, Luke gave us the most comprehensive view of the life of Christ. He began his Gospel by saying,
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 . . . so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught (Luke 1:1-4).
Luke is unique in at least two critical aspects. First, the writer was not a personal eyewitness of Jesus’ life. Luke was a doctor, but for the purpose of his Gospel he functioned as an investigator, verifying and compiling the accounts of eyewitnesses and making sure they were accurate. That’s a big deal for us today because Luke was viewing this story the same way we would . . . he was evaluating the truth of the story without the benefit of being present.
Second, Luke was not Jewish. In fact, he was the only biblical author who was a Gentile. That should be important to us because we are almost exclusively a Gentile group of followers. Luke viewed Jesus as much more than a leader of a Jewish religious subgroup or the fulfiller of prophecy. He saw Jesus as the Savior of the whole world; in fact, that is the theme of his book. As a doctor, Luke investigated and diagnosed the deepest problem in both his and our world . . . the problem of sin and our need for a Savior. Jesus (and his word) is the cure.
Luke’s Gospel includes almost four dozen of Jesus’ stories, teachings, and parables not found in the other Gospels. But I’ll focus on just three—two parables and an incident from Jesus’ life—that point to Jesus being the Savior of the world.
The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). Jesus is the Savior of the world because his sacrifice is the truest expression of love. Love was the core of Jesus’ teaching. The two religious leaders who walked by the injured man without helping lacked in love and mercy. Like them, we can get this all wrong and think we are loving God when we’re not even loving the people God puts on our path. Have you ever been surprised by how God uses someone? I have been wrong so often, thinking one person was worthy of my time and another wasn’t. God alone knows the heart and he wants to save every human heart because every human heart needs salvation!
Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10). Jesus showed, one person at a time, that he is the Savior of the world. Jesus wasn’t and isn’t a poser, as evidenced by the story of Zacchaeus. Just imagine, Jesus knows every one of us in real time! He knows every person and every situation, and he wants salvation to come to our houses today! He doesn’t care what the people around us think or how they view him. He’s focused on us because he came here for us! It’s time to sit at the table with him and quit viewing him from the trees.
The prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). Jesus is the Savior of the world because we will die without him. Jesus tried to help the religious leaders understand why he was there and what they were supposed to be doing (see Luke 15:1-2). We are all prodigals . . . but we are all sons and daughters! We all have the same heavenly Father who loves us! He is waiting for us and sees us when we are still a long way off. He recognizes us and runs to us when we’re unrecognizable! He declares what was dead to be alive again and he throws a party!
“Let’s have a feast and celebrate,” the prodigal son’s father said. “For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”
This world is so unhealthy. The world has a disease, and it needs a cure. It has a reason for mourning, and it needs a reason for celebrating. It is stricken with fear, and it needs to be at peace. It is lost in the lower story, and it needs to embrace the upper story. It’s focused on the temporary, and it needs to raise its vision to the eternal. The cure is here because Jesus is here. He is the Savior of the world!