Consider the sense in which by Acts 28 the mission of Jesus has made it to Rome, the seat of imperial power, yet one of the powerful motivations highlighted by Luke which pushes the mission forward in the days of Jesus himself is concern for the poor. Is Luke a communist or a charitable conservative?
But the same Luke is the original Pentecostal. No other gospel writer has the same sense that the power at work in and through Jesus is the Holy Spirit. Nor that the same Holy Spirit is the continuity in the mission of Jesus between the days of the earthly Jesus and the days of the ascended Jesus. Miracles, speaking in tongues, prophecies, dreams, words of knowledge, Luke knows all the gifts of the Spirit.
Yet the politically radical Luke is not confined to concern for the poor ... (to be continued tomorrow morning).
... picking up from last night, Luke is intriguing about the role of women in the history of the mission of Jesus. Whereas Matthew tells us about the birth of Jesus from Joseph's perspective (with Mary, more or less, merely being the woman who bears and gives birth to the Saviour), Luke develops a strong Marian perspective (to say nothing of an Elizabethan input). Only Luke of the gospel writers tells us as much as he does about the supportive role of leading women as disciples behind the disciples of Jesus (Luke 8:1-3). Acts features women in leading roles in the life of the fledgling church (Mary the mother of Jesus, Tabitha, Mary the mother of John Mark, Lydia, Priscilla, Philip's four unmarried daughters with the gift of prophecy), albeit a church with strong male leadership. Nevertheless Acts flows with the Spirit of Pentecost whom Joel had predicted would be poured out on men and women.
In other words, the Lukan interest in women following Jesus in his gospel is a continuing interest in the history of the ancient church.
But these interests, a bias (to remint a now familiar phrase) towards the poor, towards women, is also a bias towards Gentiles: the point of the burgeoning story of the mission of Jesus is that it radiates outwards, geographically from Judea to Italy, but also sociologically, from the rich to the poor, from men to women, from Jew to Gentile. What is Luke up to? Luke is telling Jesus' story for the world in a manner which consciously speaks to certain people groups (the poor, women, Gentiles). The other gospel writers have a keen interest in the gospel for the whole world, but they take little trouble to connect with specific groups which might hear the gospel as an inclusive gospel but wonder if that really means them. But to do what Luke does is to open up the possibilities of a new world when people are converted to Christ: in this world the poor will be loved (in such a way that they will no longer be poor because, e.g., the Zacchaeus' of the old world will have shared their wealth), women will be heard and Gentiles will be included in table fellowship. This new world is a subversion of the old world, not just the old world populated by people converted to Christianity.
What is Luke up to? Precisely what Christians are accused of in Thessalonica:
"These people who have been turning the world upside down have come here also." (Acts 17:6)PS I have typed part of this post using a loaned MacBook Air. The ideal blogging tool when on the road. I am sure Luke, were he telling his stories today, would be using one!