VII. Luke's Gospel In Christian Tradition
Luke's gospel has played an important part in Christian tradition from the days of the early church to the present. The stories and teaching found only in this gospel have been specially treasured. Among them are the accounts of the angel's announcement to Mary, the shepherds' visit to the manger, the anointing of Jesus by a sinful woman, the encounter with Zacchaeus, the prayer of the crucified Jesus for the forgiveness of his killers, his promise to the dying thief, and his appearance to the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Jesus' parables found only in this gospel include the two debtors, the good Samaritan, the friend at midnight, the unfruitful fig tree, the rich fool, the lost coin, the lost (prodigal) son, the shrewd manager, the rich man and Lazarus, the persistent widow, and the Pharisee and the tax collector. Moreover, some of the hymns in this gospel, the songs of Mary and Zechariah, the song of the angels heard by the shepherds, and the prayer of Simeon, have been used for centuries in Christian worship.
The main themes of Luke's gospel are at the heart of traditional Christianity, and some of them have been given special emphasis in Wesleyan thought and practice. Luke's gospel stresses the ministry of Jesus to all classes of society and all peoples of the world. It proclaims the mercy of God to all sinners who repent, it shows a deep concern for the plight of the poor and the outcasts, it attaches great importance to the life of discipleship, it speaks of the need for a proper stewardship of material wealth, and it gives prominence to prayer. And in the story of the journey to Emmaus it tells of the encounter with the risen Christ and the experience of the burning heart. These themes are central in the Wesleyan tradition and are vividly presented in Luke's gospel.