The Gospel of Luke starts off with a brief forward by the author (almost certainly not Luke) saying that while others have written down their Jesus memories as told to them by others, some of whom knew the witnesses, the author will present the best account based on his research.
And by “research” he means he’ll crib from Mark’s gospel too.
Remember John the Baptist? In Mark, he showed up to say “Repent” and baptize Jesus. Matthew says that he realized Jesus was greater than he was and objected to baptizing him. Luke now comes along and adds a backstory for John.
He’s Jesus’ cousin! And he has a miraculous birth too.
John’s dad, Zach, was a priest, and he was old, and so was his wife and they had no kids. But when Zach goes to burn incense in the Temple an angel appears…
Angel: You’re going to have a son. Call him John, he’s going to be the forerunner for the Messiah and Elijah.
Zach: I’m old and so is my wife. How will I know this will happen?
Angel: I’m Gabriel and if you want a sign, you won’t be able to speak until after your son is born because you doubted.
Dude… dick move, Gabe.
So Zach can’t speak, but he can get it on with his wife and knocks her up. And Gabe’s got another job to do. He’s got to go tell a 14 year-old unmarried virgin that God is going to knock her up in a culture where unmarried pregnant girls could get stoned to death.
Gabe: Hail, Mary. Blessed are thou among women…
Mary: I have a feeling I’m going to be hearing that a lot.
Gabe: You’re going to be pregnant with the Messiah.
Mary: I haven’t had sex.
Gabe: God will take care of it. And you can trust my words because your cousin Elizabeth who is old is now pregnant with John the Baptist.
So Mary goes to visit Elizabeth and fetal John jumps around because he’s close to fetal Jesus. Mary sings a praise song. And then John is born. There is some dispute about the name of the baby, but they insist it will be John. Then Zach can speak again and he sings a praise song to God.
And John heads out to the desert to go a bit bonkers.
“Luke” says a general census of the Roman Empire was ordered by Caesar Augustus when Quirinius was governor of Syria. This is problematic. There is no record of a general census of the entire Empire. The census did not require people to travel to their ancestral homes, and since John and Jesus were conceived during the reign of Herod (1:5) who dies in 4 BC, and Quirinius was not governor of Syria until 6 AD, we’re left with a few inaccuracies right off the bat.
Likewise, in Luke’s account, Joseph and Mary are residents of Nazareth and must travel to Bethlehem, while in Matthew’s account, they only settle in Nazareth after their journey to Egypt and their return.
But Jesus is born. It’s the familiar Christmas story. They can’t find room in any of the inns, so they are settled down in a barn for the night. Mary gives birth to Jesus, they wrap him up in swaddling clothes and set him down to sleep in a bed of hay in a trough.
Angels announce the birth to shepherds.
Angels: Hey, Shepherds! Go to Bethlehem and see the new Messiah who will bring salvation.
So they go find Mary and Joe and worship Jesus and tell them what the angels said.
Eight days later, they cut off the foreskin of the Messiah’s penis and name him Jesus. Thirty-two days after that, Mary is considered to have lost her nasty girl cooties from having a baby, so they head to Jerusalem to offer a sacrifice for Mary’s girl cooties.
There was a man named Simeon who had been told by God that he wouldn’t die until he saw the Messiah, so when they bring Jesus to the Temple, the old man takes the baby and blesses God.
Another senior citizen named Anna also praised God for Jesus and spoke to any who would listen that she had seen the infant Messiah.
Then Joe and Mary head back to Nazareth. No mention of Herod trying to kill Jesus or the wise men or the flight to Egypt.
When Jesus was twelve, they take him to Jerusalem for the Passover. Jesus stays behind for three days and no one notices because they travelled in caravans with relatives. When they can’t find him, they go back to Jerusalem and find him in the Temple hanging out with the rabbis listening and asking questions and generally impressing all of the teachers.
Mary: Hey, son! We’ve been worried sick! You’ve been gone for three days! We searched everywhere for you!
Jesus: Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know I’d be in my Father’s house? He lets me stay up as late as I want!
Mary: Sigh… Jehovah, we agreed you’d get weekend visitation.
Jehovah: Yeah, I know. But he just showed up. I would have called, but cell phones haven’t been invented yet.
Mary: Like you don’t have a bunch of angels up there just waiting to deliver messages. Come on, Jesus, we’re going home.
Jehovah: You better listen to your mom, Slugger.
So Jesus goes back to Nazareth and grows up and becomes well-liked.