In Focus: The focus I want to put on the passage is the pairing of Luke 4:2-3 and Luke 4:18. Notice how John has “the word of God” wherein he preaches repentance and obedience, and then Luke summarizes this as “the gospel” in the latter verse. Even in John’s preaching, we should note the inseparable nature of these items: repentance, obedience, the righteousness of Christ, and the gospel. Any alleged gospel that does not both proclaim the sinfulness of man and our need for repentance and the holiness and grace of God who came for us is a deficient gospel.
In Practice: The hard part of these posts for me is always this section: how do we make understanding this concept practical? What do we do about it? What if I give principles that some folks don’t grasp?
In Nerdiness: Luke’s an historian, so there is so much nerd to do here. First, we get another time reference in the first few verses. There has been criticism and clarification about the names and titles, and while some doubted that Luke accurately portrayed the politicians of the time, generally it’s seen that he was not wrong. How he knew about Lysanias way out in West Texas is still up for debate. (Abilene? Thank you, tip your waitresses…)
Third, the genealogy. Let’s get this out of the way: there are differences in Luke and Matthew regarding the family line of Jesus. The simplest explanation given is that one traces Mary and one Joseph, but there are some who doubt that conclusion. Another one is that Matthew is tracing a legal, kingship line and Luke the biological. I am unwilling to stake out a claim beyond this: somehow, if Scripture is inspired and error-free, both are right. I believe the front half of that statement.