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'Salvation for all humankind' in Luke

'Salvation for all humankind' in Luke

Jesus Christ
Oral and written tradition
The Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel of Mark
The Gospel of Luke
The Gospel of John
The meaning for today

From ‘Notes on the Formation of the Gospels’, by John Wijngaards;
published in Background to the Gospels (Bangalore & Ann Arbor 1981)
and Together in My Name (London 1991).

In harmony with his purpose of confirming the faith of the new non-Jewish converts, Luke stresses all those aspects in Jesus' teaching which show him as the Saviour of all men. He teaches through his Gospel the universality of Christ's salvation.

Also Matthew and Mark underline this universality, but Luke has made it the main theme of his Gospel. No doubt Luke re-echoes in this preaching of Paul, the great Apostle of the non Jews! Consider the following features of Luke's Gospel:

  • World history
  • Roman empire
  • universal Church
  • all humanity
  • kindness to non-Jews

World history

The Gospel of Luke places the incarnation right in the centre of world history. That God became human is of con- cern not only to inhabitants of Palestine or to Jews. All human beings are involved in it.

When elaborating Jesus’ list of ancestors, Luke goes back to Adam, the father of all humankind (Luke 3:23-38). Matthew goes back to Abraham (Mt 1: 1-2).

Place in the Roman empire

Luke mentions that Jesus’ birth coincided with an event of world-wide repercussion: the census of the whole Roman Empire under Augustus (Luke 2:1-5).

At the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, Luke gives not only the names ot the reigning local princes, but adds that it was “the fifteenth year of the rule of Emperor Tiberius”. (Luke 3:1).

Its place in the universal Church

Luke also shows the same attitude by continuing the Gospel with the account of the Acts of the Apostles. For the ‘Gospel’ initiated by Jesus continues in the spread of the Church throughout the whole world.

The Gospel is meant for all people

With predilection Luke discusses those passages where the salvation of all people is proclaimed.

When the angels announce Jesus’ birth, they sing that it will mean peace not to the Jews only, but to all: “peace on earth to people with whom God is pleased” (Luke 2:14).

Simeon says: “I have seen your salvation which you have made ready in the presence of all nations: a light to reveal your way to the non-Jews!”(Luke 2:30f).

When quoting Is 40:3, Luke quotes one line more than Matthew and Mark: “And all humankind will see God's salvation!” (Luke 3:6).

Luke mentions Jesus’last instruction that: “the message of repentance and of forgiveness of sins must be preached to all nations” (Luke 24:47).

Jesus' kindness to non-Jews

Luke preserved for us some sayings and deeds of Jesus concerning the Samaritans. These Samaritans were non-Jews, treated with contempt and hostility by the Jews.

The disciples wanted to call down fire on a Samaritan village that refused to give them accommodation. Jesus rebuked them for this spirit so alien to his own (Luke 9:51-56).

Among ten lepers healed by Jesus only one returns to give thanks: a Samaritan. Jesus praises him (Luke 17:11-19).

In his beautiful parable on charity, Jesus makes a Samaritan the example of true neighbourly love (Luke 10:29-37).

The Gospel of Luke breathes the same spirit which we find in Paul:

“You, non-Jews by birth...., remember what you were in the past! At that time you were apart from Christ. You were foreigners, and did not belong to God’s chosen people. You had no part in the covenants, which were based on God’s promises to his people.

You lived in this world without hope and without God! But-now, in union with Christ Jesus, you who used to be far away have been brought near by the death of Christ. For Christ himself has brought us peace, by making the Jews and non-Jews one people... Christ came to preach the Good News of peace to all! ”

(Ephesians 2:11-14; 2:17)

John Wijngaards

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