Do you root for the underdog? Luke did. So does Jesus.
Luke is the only Gospel-writer who mentioned the shepherds at the birth of the Messiah. Shepherds were of a lowly class. They were usually just youngsters, poorly paid, and underappreciated. But Luke records God’s grace poured out upon a group of shepherds, the first to worship the new-born King. God said, “Hey you rag-tag sheep-herders, come to the front of the line… be the very first to bow before the King of kings!”
Luke is also the only Gospel-writer to record the story of the ten lepers healed by Jesus. “As he entered a village, ten men with leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and raised their voices, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ When he saw them, he told them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And while they were going, they were cleansed” (Luke 17:12–14). Jesus loved the unlovely.
Luke alone records the parables of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin and the Lost Son. The fifteenth chapter begins, “All the tax collectors and sinners were approaching to listen to him. And the Pharisees and scribes were complaining, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ So (Jesus) told them this parable…” (Luke 15:1–3). Like the lost coin, the lost sheep, and the lost son, the tax collectors and sinners were lost and alone. They needed a Savior. Luke recognized that Jesus came to earth to seek and save all, even tax collectors and sinners… like me and you.
The parable of the Good Samaritan is also only found in Luke’s account. This well-known and highly-cherished parable recognizes the God-like compassion of a Samaritan. Yes, a Samaritan… an ostracized and vilified race of half-breed Assyrian/Jews who lived in the region between Galilee and Judea. Travelling from Galilee to Judea, Jews would travel miles out of their way to keep from stepping foot in Samaritan territory, so when Jesus told this story, His Jewish audience was shocked.
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him, beat him up, and fled, leaving him half dead” (Luke 10:30). The road from Jerusalem dropped more than three-thousand feet in elevation, deep into the Dead Sea Valley. It was a dangerous, winding road through deep, rocky ravines where robbers and bandits frequently mugged and molested innocent travelers. That’s exactly what happened to the man in Jesus’ parable.
As the poor man lay bleeding, broken and busted, other travelers passed by, first a priest, then a Levite, and then a Samaritan (Luke 10:31-33). “A Samaritan on his journey came up to him, and when he saw the man, he had compassion. He went over to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on olive oil and wine. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him. When I come back I’ll reimburse you for whatever extra you spend’ ” (Luke 10:33-35).
I’m something like the shepherd, the leper, the tax collector, and the Samaritan. I’m not worthy of Divine notice. I’ve done nothing to deserve the Father’s great compassion, but that’s exactly what God has granted.
Luke wrote about God’s love for the poor and disadvantaged. “Blessed are you who are poor, because the kingdom of God is yours. Blessed are you who are hungry now, because you will be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, because you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you, insult you, and slander your name as evil because of the Son of Man” (Luke 6:20–22).
I’m blessed… by God’s grace.