Studying the Bible with other believers can often have an insular effect that’s unhealthy and, according to Luke’s Gospel, unbiblical. From beginning to end in his Gospel, the Gentile physician spotlights the surprising work of the gospel in those thought to be “outsiders.”
Luke articulates Jesus’ story as accessible to the unknowns, the outcast, the lost, and the hopeless. For example, Jesus recounts the stunning embrace of the returned prodigal and embittered response of his “righteous” brother, displaying his desire for irreligious and religious alike to turn to him in repentance. We see Jesus’ invitation to Zacchaeus—the hated tax collector eavesdropping on Jesus from the outside—and the grumbling response of the crowd on the inside: “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” We witness Jesus look with compassion on a reviled yet repentant criminal hanging on the cross next to his. Despite being the final moments before his death, Jesus takes time to give the criminal an astonishing promise—a scandal that remains today. Examples like these abound throughout the Gospel of Luke. In short, Jesus constantly challenges Israel’s “insiders” by highlighting “outsiders” transformed by the gospel. He desires transformation in both camps.