What does it say?
Luke’s name does not appear in the book, but tradition has always assigned this gospel to this medical doctor that accompanied Paul on some of his journeys. Writing in Greek, Luke’s Gospel is filled with technical medical terms not used by the other writers. Luke and Acts are a two volume set, both written to a high-ranking Roman named Theophilus. The first chapter describes the angel’s announcement to Zachariah that his barren wife Elizabeth, well past childbearing age, would give birth to John. We also see an angel tell Mary that she would give birth to Jesus despite being a virgin. Probably to escape shame and suspicion, Mary visits her relative Elizabeth.
John’s Gospel begins with a more cosmic approach, reminiscent of Genesis 1, identifying Jesus as the divine Word, the Creator and God appearing among us in human form. John the apostle writes this Gospel, not John the Baptist (baptizer), whose birth was announced in Luke 1. John’s Gospel is strikingly different from the other three. Skipping over the birth and early life of John and Jesus, this Gospel immediately cuts to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and baptism in the Jordan River by his cousin John. This first chapter also identifies the earliest of Jesus’ disciples.
What does it mean?
Of the gospel writers, Luke offers the most complete account of Jesus’ life. Not an apostle of Jesus or a Jew as other gospel writers, Luke clearly states his purpose to compile a totally accurate account of Jesus from examining reliable first-hand sources. Most of the material in Luke’s first chapter probably came from Mary herself, as Luke had a good two years to interview eyewitnesses during the time that Paul was imprisoned in Caesarea. Beginning his gospel of Jesus by telling the story of two women, Luke radically breaks with conventional wisdom.
John’s emphasis is on the deity of Jesus Christ, the fact that he is God in human form. He writes as though his readers already have familiarity with the basic facts of the story. His purpose is passionately evangelistic, focusing on Jesus as the promised Messiah, God who has “tabernacle” among us (literal translation of 1:14).
How will I respond?
Of these two very familiar chapters, what is the verse(s), point or lesson that most impacts me in my reading today? Specifically, how will my life be different and reflect my application of what God has impressed upon me today?