Luke: The Gospel for the Outsider

Added about 3 months ago by Patrick Whitworth

/images/blog/Patrick Whitworth.jpgGUEST BLOG: #BookOfTheMonth author Patrick Whitworth explores what makes Luke's record of Jesus' teachings unique amongst the Gospel writers, and why this account is particularly relevant to our lives today.

Each of the Gospels is written from a particular standpoint and with a particular audience in mind, although each sets out to record the life of Jesus of Nazareth and his significance for humankind. Luke is no exception. Matthew was the most Jewish Gospel and was written to demonstrate that Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament scriptures. Mark may well have been written in Rome to demonstrate that, in a world where the Emperor was Caesar, there was another Lord whose Kingdom would never end, and whose drumbeat was mercy and not repression. John wrote a “spiritual gospel” quite possibly in Ephesus, and constructed it around seven signs and sayings that showed that those who believe would have eternal life. Luke was the only Gentile author of the New Testament. He was a doctor, a companion of Paul and showed that Jesus had a ready eye and welcome for the outsider.

Only in Luke do we get parables that concentrate on the outsider giving or receiving mercy, like the Prodigal Son, the Good Samaritan, and the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. Luke shows that Jesus came for the lost, principally in his seminal chapter fifteen. Luke shows Jesus’ compassion towards the outsider frequently: like Zacchaeus, or the prostitute in Simon’s house who welcomed Jesus, or the dying thief on the cross next to Jesus. Other outsiders in the Gospel are the woman with the issue of blood, lepers, gentiles, the shepherds and the teenage Mary chosen to bear Jesus as her son. Only in Luke do we have Jesus’ manifesto declared in his first sermon and reading in Nazareth. “The Spirit was on him to preach good news to the poor”.

If Jesus had such an eye for the outsider, reaching out with compassionate mercy to them, how should this affect our mission as a church today? Who are the outsiders in our society, in our neighbourhood, town or street? How might we reach out to them in everyday life? Gospel for the Outsider is written for group discussion. Why not give it a try either on your own, if you prefer, or in a church study or life group—there are questions for study included at the end of each chapter.


Patrick Whitworth read Modern History at Christ Church Oxford, and a Theology MA in Reformation Studies under T. H. L. Parker at Durham. He has spent over 40 years in Anglican Ministry, most recently in Bath, and in retirement facilitates lay and clergy training alongside his writing. He is married to Olivia with four grown up children and three grandchildren.

Gospel for the Outsider is our May #BookOfTheMonth. This book not only serves as a useful guide for church leaders and preachers as they look again at Luke’s writings from the point of view of reaching Outsiders, but it will also be a useful study guide or resource for Bible Study Groups who want to take a fresh look at familiar material. It is an invaluable resource to a Church thinking about Mission today, and how to ground that Mission in scripture and give it fresh momentum. Get your copy of this “immensely helpful and refreshing” resource today.


Please note: Sacristy Press does not necessarily share or endorse the views of the guest contributors to this blog.

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