Everyone loves a story about a hero triumphing over evil. It’s part of what we love about movies and television. It’s why books like ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘Harry Potter’ are so popular (and not just with young adults). And our love of heroes is why the last 15 years has brought us a slew of comic book inspired movies (Thank God).
The story of Christ, found in the Gospel of Luke, appears to be written in the same tone as a historical epic. It’s a story of divine power, a savior to the downtrodden and oppressed, and redemption. It’s a story that, if we let it, speaks to our core and inspires us to dare for faith. Here’s why I feel that way.
Divine Declaration – Luke’s Gospel begins much like Greek mythology (which makes tons of sense considering his formal Greek education). God Himself sent a prominent messenger, someone who has spoken directly to God, down to earth. There are songs sung about God and His unborn savior declaring the Almighty’s power. Two elder prophets seemingly spontaneously tell Mary and Joseph that their son is the savior of the world. His story even ends with the heavenly messengers returning to ask the women at the tomb “why do you look for the living among the dead?”
Luke spends three chapters preparing the reader for the story of a Divine Champion here on earth. And he does it by using Heaven itself to make the declaration.
Mission Statement – In each Gospel, Jesus makes a stop to His home town, but only Luke’s Gospel gives us a soundbite from the sermon He preached. In Luke 4:14-22, Jesus reads a famous passage from the book of Isaiah. Stop and read it. Seriously. You know what. Never mind. Here’s the passage:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to liberate the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” – Luke 4:18-19, Isaiah 61:1-2
When He stops reading, Jesus looks at the church He grew up in and tells them, in no uncertain terms, “I am the Messiah. I am going to do these things.”
This is up there with the great heroic speeches of history and heroes. Braveheart’s “They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom”, or Leonidas’ response to Xerxes request for their weapons, “Come and take them”.
People’s Champion – Before Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was ‘The People’s Champion in the WWF, Christ was the hero for all people. The Jewish people were waiting on a half priest/half general hybrid to show up and free them from their oppressors (currently Rome). So they were ready for Pope Rambo Christ to show up and give them good news, heal their sight, and free them from oppression.
But they weren’t so prepared for Jesus to do the same things for the gentiles and women. Luke’s Gospel makes a profound point of highlighting the faithfulness of the non-Jewish believers, as well as placing women in prominent roles in the story of Christ. Luke’s Gospel gives us the story of the centurion, the named women disciples, and the story of the Good Samaritan, who was a cultural enemy of the Jews.
Christ wasn’t playing favorites. He came for everyone He could get.
The Gospel of Luke is a story of Heavens Champion coming to earth to rescue us from our sin, regardless of race, gender, or culture. Christ was a cultural savior; He was the world’s savior.
He reminds us that God loves us enough to save us.