Jeremy Sarber / The Bible Readers Podcast

Who was Luke in the Bible? (the answer should inspire each of us)

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)

I waited in line at the local DVD-vending machine. In front of me was a stereotypical biker complete with a Harley-Davidson bandana, leather vest, and two full sleeves of ink. In front of him was an attractive young woman who I’m sure preferred to be anywhere but under the lustful gaze of the biker who made no attempt to hide his desire. His whistling was a dead giveaway. She remained poised, however, completed her transaction, and headed toward the parking lot.

“Hey, honey,” the biker shouted in her direction, “how would you like to—?” My memory of his exact words are fuzzy, and I’m not willing to repeat what I do remember. It was raunchy enough to make even the crudest sailor blush. I tried to follow the woman’s example of quiet grace, but righteous indignation overpowered me, not to mention what some might call my better judgment.

In a rare uncharacteristic moment, I channeled the spirit of John the Baptist, pierced the man’s eyes with mine, and said, “I know sin when I see it. You need to repent.”

I learned fear moves faster than the speed of sound. By the time he could hear and process what I said, I had already mentally prepared myself for the beating sure to come next, but it never did. Instead, I was able to explain further despite the biker’s threatening scowl. He let me introduce myself as a local Christian pastor and briefly speak to him about sin and the Savior.

Even so, I wasn’t convinced that I had accomplished anything worthy of risking my life. Why would he listen to me? Who am I? Why did I take such a bold chance for the sake of a stranger? What was I thinking? I imagined my mother saying, “You weren’t thinking. That’s the problem.”

Then again, who was Luke? I’m referring to that obscure figure who wrote twenty-seven percent of the New Testament, covering more than sixty years of the world’s most significant history. Without fanfare or even a name-drop, he arrives on the scene in Acts 16, travels with Paul for much of the next decade and beyond, thoroughly investigates the claims of Christianity, and goes on to write two books of the Bible which have undoubtedly turned countless souls to Christ since their publication.

Luke was a “doctor,” which hardly qualified him for the monumental task of penning the “God-breathed” words of Scripture (Col 4:14; 2Ti 3:16). Today, the profession might earn one respect and probably a decent parking space, but that wasn’t always true. According to ancient sources, physicians were better known for practicing magic and overcharging patients than curing diseases. Educated or not, Luke became a skillful biographer of Jesus and his earliest disciples against all reasonable expectations.

To compile the wealth of information and detail of both his Gospel and the book of Acts, Luke must have invested serious time and effort. We can’t accuse him of merely copying the works of Matthew and Mark because more than forty percent of his Gospel is original material. Perhaps he traveled extensively to interview eyewitnesses such as the apostles. Maybe he spoke to “the women who had followed” Jesus, the believers “numbering about a hundred and twenty” in Jerusalem, or the “five hundred” people who saw Christ alive after his death (Lk 23:49; Ac 1:15; 1Co 15:6).

If Luke’s painstaking effort isn’t enough to impress you, then consider for what, better yet, for whom he did it. He had only one man in mind as he wrote his two-volume history: a mysterious individual by the name of “Theophilus” (Lk 1:3; Ac 1:1). If Luke knew his work would impact the lives of every generation to come, we have no proof of it. Whether Theophilus was still unconverted or a new believer, Luke cared enough about him to go to extraordinary lengths to provide him with a detailed, accurate account of the Christian claims.

The biker’s name is Brian, by the way. I know that because he emailed me three weeks later to thank me for my audacious rebuke. “I’ve wrestled with a guilty conscience for a long time now,” he wrote. “My dad is a Baptist pastor who raised me to know God, but I chose to serve myself rather than submit to my Lord. I’ve begged for mercy and returned to the church. I’m eternally grateful for your courage to confront me with my sin.”

Why would we ever hesitate to tell others about Christ? Souls are at stake, and neither fear nor the threat of inconvenience will justify our apathy. Jesus commands, “Go and make disciples … And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Mt 28:19-20). We may not feel qualified to challenge friends and family with the truth of the gospel, let alone oversized motorcyclists covered in tattoos, but the power and purpose of heaven are behind us. The gospel message will always accomplish precisely what God intends, so never be reluctant to share it.