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Home > Online Magazine > Online Magazine: Edition 50 - December 2012 / January 2013 > Stories That Never Get Old (by David Petrie)

Stories That Never Get Old

by David Petrie

Stories That Never Get Old

Is there someone in your family who tells the same stories over and over?  All families seem to have them!  Other family members may roll their eyes - "not again" they say.

But some stories are worth re-telling.

Luke thought so.  Luke was a doctor who travelled for some time with the apostle Paul, not long after Jesus lived on this Earth.  No doubt he heard the stories of Jesus over and over again, from many different people.  What stories they must have been - many of these stories would have come from people who actually met Jesus.  We don't know whether Luke himself met Jesus.  He probably didn't, but the stories he heard must have given him a rich mental picture of who Jesus was.

However, hearing those stories obviously wasn't enough.  He wanted to re-tell them himself - but he wanted to do so in a structured way.  How do we know this?

The Bible is actually a collection of many "books" - and two of these books were written by Luke.  We usually refer to these books as "Luke" and "Acts".  In reality, they are two parts of one overall narrative - and should be read together in sequence, starting with "Luke" and then continuing on to "Acts".  Luke tells us why he decided to write:

"Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word.  With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught." (Luke 1:1-4 NIV)

Luke explains that he has carefully researched what he is about to write.  Why does he say this?

The answer lies in the reason his telling the story in the first place.  Sometimes the simple act of telling a story is reason enough to tell it!  Telling stories is fun!  And stories can often grow and change with the re-telling.  If you can make a story a bit more fun with a little embellishment, all the better!  This is how we end up with "tall stories". 

But Luke has another reason.  He wants Theophilus to "know the certainty of the things you have been taught".  So Luke writes in order to provide a foundation for Theophilus' belief and faith in Jesus.  Given that this faith leads to salvation, and ultimately to eternal life, Luke takes this very seriously.  For this reason he has "carefully investigated" everything he is about to write - so that Theophilus has a firm foundation for his faith.

Luke begins by re-telling the story of Jesus' birth - along with the birth of his cousin John.  He then jumps forward twelve years and recounts a humorous story of how Jesus got "lost" while the family were visiting Jerusalem during the Passover festival. 

Luke again moves forward another twenty or so years, to when Jesus and John are in their early thirties.  We meet John, who by then was known as "John the Baptist", living and preaching in the wilderness.  Jesus comes, and is baptised by John.  After this, John moves off the scene, and we hear about Jesus, what he did, what he preached about, where he went, who he met, and ultimately, how he died. 

But the story doesn't end there.  Next, we read about how Jesus was resurrected and how he returned to heaven.  Luke then continues - in his book called "Acts" - to tell how the good news of Jesus' life, death and resurrection spread, and how a new movement, originally called "The Way" (Acts 9:2) and eventually called "Christians" (Acts 11:26), arose - based on everything that Jesus taught and gave. 

By writing down what he knew and what he had researched, Luke was not trying to stop or inhibit the verbal re-telling of these stories.  Just the opposite!  His written stories enable and support the verbal re-telling of those stories from generation to generation. 

As you read this, Christmas is either around the corner, or just passed for another year.  It is over 2000 years since Christ's birth.  The stories that we tell each other at this time would not be possible without the carefully researched written record that Luke and the other Bible writers have left for us.  It is their timeless record that ensures that the story of Jesus never gets old.  And by basing our faith on the Jesus we read about and come to know in these stories, we receive salvation and eternal life - ensuring that just as the story of Jesus will never get old, neither will we!


Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION® NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.  Used by permission of Biblica, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Home > Online Magazine > Online Magazine: Edition 50 - December 2012 / January 2013 > Stories That Never Get Old (by David Petrie)