I have been reading Luke's gospel with my friend Jules for the last couple of months. Though I have read it many times in my life, it still held some surprises for me.
One surprise is just how many women are in Luke's gospel!
In Luke, the story of Jesus' birth is told from his mother Mary's perspective. And Luke tells it entwined with the story of another special birth to another mother, Elizabeth - the mother of John the Baptist.
After he is born, when Mary and Joseph take Jesus to the temple, it is not only Simeon but also the prophetess Anna who recognises Jesus to be the promised and long-awaited Saviour.
There are women who come to Jesus, sick, weak, demon-possessed, scorned and weighed down by their sins. Women who follow Jesus on his journey and financially support His ministry. Women who stood by and watched him die, watched him be buried and then became the first witnesses to the empty tomb.
A second related surprise is in the details. The way Luke records what happens highlights Jesus tenderness towards these women.
When Jesus meets a widow at the funeral of her only son, Luke pauses the story to tell us that "Jesus had compassion on her". And when Jesus raises her son, Luke notes with just six words -"Jesus gave him to his mother" - the out working of Jesus' compassion for her.
And it's not just to the women that Jesus displays such tenderness. In Luke, we meet our King who humbles himself to seek and save the lost.