(We were in all 276 persons in the ship.) Acts 27:37
Through the Bible: Acts 27-28
In the musical Hamilton, Eliza Hamilton begs her husband Alexander to “let [her] be part of the narrative/ in the story they will write someday.” Later, in a moment of bitterness and betrayal, she destroys all of Alexander’s letters, singing “I’m erasing myself from the narrative.” But in the finale of the show, we learn that she put herself back in the narrative, dedicating her life to preserving Hamilton’s story.
Luke is unique among the Bible’s historians in that he inserts himself into the narrative. Matthew never says “we or I” in his gospel. Neither does Mark. In the gospel of John, the author only refers to himself in the third person, as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”
In Luke’s gospel, we get addressed by the author in the introduction (see Luke 1:3). And after that, Luke drops out of the narrative. There’s no indication that he is a personal witness to any of the events in the gospel. Instead, you get the sense that he is a journalist, compiling an account from interviews with eyewitnesses.
This is the same tone through the first half of Acts. In Acts 1:1, Luke again addresses Theophilus, leading some to speculate that Theophilus (a name which means “lover of God”) was a wealthy benefactor who sponsored Luke’s research.
The turn comes in Acts 16:10-11, when Luke writes “we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.” After that, Luke uses the first person plural frequently, especially when giving details about Paul’s itinerary (see Acts 20-21). And when we get to the account of the shipwreck in Acts 27-28, Luke shifts from objective reporter to embedded wartime correspondent, providing one of the most gripping narratives in the entire Bible.
What made Luke put himself in the story? What led him to write all this down in the first place? I think the answer is in Acts 27:37: Luke was saved from the shipwreck. We are never told at what point Luke experienced spiritual salvation. But in Acts 27, he was physically saved from shipwreck. Imagine having that story. When someone saves your life, it changes you. You want to tell people about it. And people want to hear about it.
Thank God that He saw fit to save Luke from that shipwreck! Because He spared Luke, we now have the gospel of Luke. Think about all the stories that are in Luke that aren’t in the other gospels. Mary’s conversation with Elizabeth. The most complete account of Jesus’ birth. The parables of the good Samaritan and the prodigal son. The one thief on the cross who was saved.
Because Luke was saved, the book of Acts was written. Luke wrote himself into the narrative, and people have found their way into the story ever since because of the books of Luke and Acts.
Beloved, you have a story of salvation to tell. It may not be as dramatic as Luke’s. Or maybe it is. But regardless, people need to hear it. Don’t just be a dispassionate reporter of the gospel. Don’t just read the Bible for stories of what God has done in other people’s lives. Write yourself into the narrative. People must know.