The gospel of Luke presents, in detail, the incomparable and indescribable human living of the God-man Jesus Christ. Since such a life had never existed or been observed before, it is difficult to categorize.
Holy? Godly? Righteous? Kind? Loving? Humble? Ethical? Noble? All fall short and leave something wanting.
Aromatic is a good word to describe our perception of it. We detect something and yet can’t quite discern what we are experiencing.
Reading through the gospel of Luke is like an interdisciplinary study. It’s a combination of science and poetry.
Luke had been trained in the medical filed to grasp complex matters with a single word (autopsy- 1:2, trauma- 10:34, dropsy- 14:2, words which are unique to Luke in the entire Bible) and discern the true nature and cause of outward symptoms.
With Luke we can strain the scientific language to describe, as precisely as possible, what is happening in the incarnation- the complete God mingled with the perfect man, in one unique person, the two natures remaining distinct but not separate, without a third thing being produced.
And it is crucial for theologians to use precise words when handling the workings of the Trinity or the incarnation.
But Luke’s mental acuity is balanced by compassionate altruism and what is more up front, more striking, in this account is the poignant portrayal of this MAN’s living (of course this man, turns out, is God).
His zeal never degenerated into passion, nor His constancy into obstinacy, nor His benevolence into weakness, nor His tenderness into sentimentality. His unworldliness was free from indifference and unsociability, His dignity from pride and presumption, His affectibility from undue familiarity, His self-denial from moroseness, His temperance from austerity. He combined child-like innocency with manly strength, absorbing devotion to God with untiring interest in the welfare of man, tender love to the sinner with uncompromising severity against sin, commanding dignity with winning humility, fearless courage with wise caution, unyielding firmness with sweet gentleness.
-Philip Schaff, The Person of Christ
- Characteristics of Luke (lifeandbuilding.com)
- Jesus is fully human (desiringgod.org)
I like the descriptive word Aromatic in relation to our perceptions of Jesus.
I like it too. I think it does a good job of preserving the blend of elusiveness, intensity, and delightfulness that exists with Christ’s humanity.
I’m impressed by the fact that it took a certain kind of person to write, to accurately depict the aromatic virtues of Jesus Christ. That person was Luke. Could you elaborate more on how he knew the record of the Lord’s living? Was he one of the 120 disciples in the Book of Acts?
I think Luke’s introductory 4 verses shed light on this. Particulary phrases like:
…many have undertaken to draw up a narrative… matters which have been fully accomplished among us… eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us… having carefully investigated all things from the first… fully know the certainty of the things…
So it seems that Luke had access to both written and oral traditions from firsthand witnesses and authorized ministers. The Greek word for eyewitness is “autopsy”. So it’s not just that some people saw Jesus but they in a sense conducted an autopsy of it all. It was a thorough examining. Luke also did his own primary research and careful investigation from the beginning. Thus, we can have full certainty in this account. Also, he was a traveling companion of Paul and no doubt was influenced by Paul’s view and understanding of these events. Paul had met the Lord and the first apostles and had received directly from both sources (1 Cor 15:3, 8).
Kevin DeYoung wrote a great post on this last Christmas. It’s worth checking out.
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