“I want you to have confidence..”
Luke is responsible for the lion’s share of the New Testament, so it’s a good thing to consider the man and his work carefully. In fact, the word “carefully” is a term characteristic of the man himself: it crops up twice in the first few verses of his Gospel and describes his general approach! We know a few crucial facts about Luke from the New Testament: that he was a doctor (Col 4:14), that he was a “fellow-worker” with Paul (Philemon 24); that he was with Paul right to the very end (2 Tim 4:10f), and earned the description “Beloved” (Col 4:14). This was the man who sifted the evidence, researched past writings (such as the Gospel of Mark) and spoke to the participants of the Jesus-story. He undertook all this careful scholarship for one very important reason: it was because “I want you to have confidence.” Confidence? Confidence in what?
It’s like crossing a stream, say, and you’re about to put your foot on a rock, but you want to be sure that the rock will take your weight, and not give way. People like Theophilus (to whom Luke and Acts are addressed) needed to know that the Gospel to which they had committed their lives was trustworthy. They were staking their lives –as we do too!- that the rock would not slip; that the story was true, and that Jesus was all he said he was. But to build that confidence, you have to investigate all the facts, carefully, from the very beginning….