Many churches follow the Common Lectionary. It assigns a reading from the Old Testament, a New Testament Epistle reading and a Gospel reading to each Sunday of the liturgical year, which begins with the first Sunday in Advent, that is, four weeks before Christmas. We are now in the third year of the lectionary’s three-year cycle, with readings from the Gospel of Luke providing the basis for sermons throughout the summer and fall. The Gospel of Luke, one of the three so-called Synoptic Gospels—it can be printed together with Matthew and Mark in parallel columns—has many special features; it’s worthwhile paying attention to these special features.
A grand design underlies Luke’s presentation of Jesus’ ministry. Satan leaves Jesus after the temptation (Luke 4:13) only to return much later in the person of Judas, who will betray Jesus (Luke 22:3–4). Between these two appearances of Satan, Jesus’ ministry is described in three phases:
(1) Preaching and healing in Galilee and Judea (Luke 4:14–9:50). Here Luke follows the account of Mark (chapters 1–9).