I suppose everyone has a favorite section or book of the Bible. I have several, among them the writings of Luke. I decided to write him a letter to thank him for enriching my studies, especially about a certain woman.
Dear Dr. Luke,
Sometimes when I read through the Bible I happen on something that makes me wish I could say “thank you” to the author. It’s a little hard to do, since so much time has elapsed and I live in a different phase of the Church; but I decided to write to you anyway to express my appreciation for the books you wrote and especially for the details you recorded about some of my favorite people—particularly women.
When I leaf through your Gospel in my Bible, I notice that it has pink pencil highlighting (my color code for women) sprinkled on its pages from beginning to end.
You see, I’ve read and reread these words many times before. I know women were sometimes not too highly esteemed when you lived, but you included them, as God led you to, in the real-life settings of your time. I find your book an exclusive edition in some ways, and I’ll tell you why.
A case in point: Mary the mother of Jesus
Without you, I would not have known many of the extraordinary details of Mary’s life: Gabriel’s amazing visit to her that remarkable day; John the Baptist leaping in his mother Elizabeth’s womb when she came for a visit; and her prophetic prayer. You managed to capture the moment, allowing me to “look over your shoulder” in the process. And with each reading I seem to learn something new. What a gift God gave you!
Only you gave me a glimpse of the aged Simeon bestowing a blessing on the tiny, newborn Jesus, allowing me to “hear” his solemn words to Mary. Why, in only three short verses you condensed the entire life of the aged prophetess Anna, herself an eye-witness to Simeon’s blessing. How masterfully you wrote.
I sometimes wonder why Matthew and Mark didn’t mention the episode where the youthful Jesus went missing after the feast of the Passover. That might have made front-page news in our town today. I’m glad you recorded the happy but surprising ending.
A couple of times you seemed to have been privy to Mary’s private thoughts—things she kept in her heart (Luke 2:19, 51)—as she struggled to comprehend the divine workings in her life. These intimate details touch me in such an inspiring and compelling way.
In this day of computers and word processing, it is hard for me to realize that you did not have access to paper or printers. You had no laptop, iPad, camera or Internet. You probably carried wax tablets or washable papyrus notebooks with you wherever you went to keep notes of interviews or first-person accounts or to jot down the facts. (I sometimes envision you as a kind of first-century man-on-the-street reporter with stylus in hand.)
It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that you sometimes used a type of shorthand—Paul’s secretaries apparently did. Whatever the method, I’m confident it was cutting-edge for the day.
Letter by letter
Patience must have been one of your chief virtues because I read once that it took lots of time to write a manuscript like the one you presented to Theophilus (Acts 1:1). In fact, someone estimated that it took two to three days to make each hand-written copy of your friend Paul’s letter to the Romans (Paul and First-Century Letter Writing, E. Randolph Richards, p. 165), and that didn’t include all the preliminary drafts and edits. I would call that a true labor of love!
You would be happy to know that your writing has endured through the ages intact and is highly revered yet today.
That extraordinary Day of Pentecost
If the hallmark of a good book is wanting to read it over and over, your books certainly meet that standard for me. This year, as I was rereading the first chapter of your The Acts of the Apostles, these words especially caught my attention: “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers” (Acts 1:14).
Thank you so much for that verse, because you are the only one who let me know the rest of the story about Mary. It is comforting to learn that she survived the horrifying ordeal of seeing her Son die—that she was there with the rest, praying and faithfully waiting for the fulfillment of her Son’s promise : He was going to send the Comforter.
At some future date
If we ever have the chance to meet sometime in the future, I’ll be eager to learn more of the details about Mary’s reactions to that momentous Pentecost and the manifestations of God’s Holy Spirit working in and energizing the fledging Church of God.
Until then, with gratitude from your ardent admirer and student…KM
(This post first appeared in the Godly Women Blog, June 14, 2011.)