The Book of Luke, Ministry, Money, and Women Ė Lesson 96
Luke 8:1-3, And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, 2And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, 3And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herodís steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.
Many times I suppose we have a mental picture of our Lord Jesus going from place to place followed by His 12 disciples.
At the front of the disciples were, of course, Peter, James and John, those three being in the inner circle.
But if you look in the gospels to see how others participated in the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, you will find that the party which accompanied Jesus Christ became, over time, quite a large group.
One of the few texts which informs us about this large group is our text in Luke 8 which we will be studying today.
In addition to the size of the group, Luke tells us about the very important role which a large number of women played in supporting the ministry of our Lord and His disciples.
Only three verses long, our text is a very important passage for it provides us with details the other gospel writers do not give, or only treat with little detail.
This passage tells us about the relationship between ministry and money and also about the role of women in Godís work.
We have just completed our study of the woman who worshipped at the feet of Jesus in Simonís house, the same woman who washed his feet with her tears and was forgiven her sins by the Lord Jesus Christ.
This passage links that passage in Chapter 7 with this new missionary journey about the area called Galilee and Luke begins that account by telling us more information about the women who accompanied the group with the Lord Jesus.
Luke 8:1, And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him,
The expression, ďit came to pass afterwardĒ tells us that the events which follow are related to the preceding verses, specifically, I take it, the story of the woman who washed our Lordís feet with her tears.
We are not told by Luke that the forgiven woman was one of the group that accompanied our Lord but we are not told otherwise either.
She could have very well left all she had and followed him as he continued to minister to sinners like her.
In the fourth chapter of Lukeís gospel, Jesus indicated very early in His ministry that He was committed to going about from city to city to preach what Luke calls the glad tidings of the kingdom of God.
Glad tidings means Good News! That was Jesusí message.
There is good news for sinners.
Some times Iím afraid that we forget that Jesus Christ came to bring good news.
Sometimes our long faces project that Jesus Christ brought bad news.
Sometimes the way we live before men projects the idea that Jesus Christ came to seek, but was not able to save that which was lost.
But Jesus Christ knew that it was the Fatherís will that he bring Good News.
Jesus Christ was committed to being about his Fatherís business and the proclamation of the Good News was his Fatherís business.
He knew that this ministry of proclamation of the Good News was a vital part of His divine calling and his divine commission.
When the people sought him to stay and minister to them Jesus said this very thing.
He responded to their urgencies to stay with them in:
Luke 4:42-43, And when it was day, he departed and went into a desert place: and the people sought him, and came unto him, and stayed him, that he should not depart from them. 43And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent.
Jesus was always committed to doing the Fatherís will and nothing that man did was allowed to hinder his mission.
Remember Peter, who because of Jesus showing unto his disciples the suffering that was to come from the elders and chief priests and scribes, this same Peter: took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. 23But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
He was not careful to abstain from rebuking Peter who acted the part of Satan in trying to get the Lord to avoid the will of the Father.
The Lord Jesus Christ always savored the things that be of God and this ministry campaign in Galilee must be accomplished for it was the will of the Father to do so.
This ministry campaign mentioned here in Luke 8 is the beginning of one of the important campaigns in His ministry to the people of Galilee and is a forerunner to the ministry campaigns of Paul.
It gives us a glimpse of how our Lordís ministry was practically worked out.
And a good bit of the practical workings out of the ministry was accomplished by women, three of whom are mentioned here.
We need to ask on a regular basis: What would the Lordís work do without women?
Not much work would get done, I fear!
70% of the people who work in this ministry are women.
Take away the women in this ministry and along with them take away all but the 7th and 8th grade of Santa Rosa Christian School, one Principle and a few high school courses, take away the Childrenís Bible Club, the Projector, the Kitchen, the Childrenís Christian Learning Center
take away the Business Office, the front office, and even the Youth Athletic Club for which a faithful woman provides all of the paperwork, without which the Youth Athletic Club cannot function.
The church is left with no piano and organ accompaniment and the choir is left with only basses and tenors.
The beautiful soprano and alto voices will be silent.
No more violin soloís either.
Yes, weíd get the grass cut, weíd get the buildings repaired, the lights would be one, the clocks set properly, the preaching in the services would go on.
But much of heart of the ministry is being performed by the women.
Perhaps this scripture is there to remind us that we are to more fully appreciate these most important contributors to this work!
But contrary to the beginning days of Jesus ministry Jesus was accompanied by a large group of followers on this campaign.
In the beginning days of our Lordís ministry, it seems he traveled alone, for example he was alone when he visited the synagogue in Nazareth for none of his disciples are mentioned.
There was the calling out of disciples which tells us that there was a time when he had no disciples.
But now we are told that a large group of followers (Luke calls them ďmany othersĒ) accompanied Jesus on this campaign.
There were, Luke tells us, the 12 disciples.
We donít know for certain but some of the disciples may have been accompanied by their wives.
If other women accompanied Jesus and the 12, why not the wives of the 12?
In addition to the disciples, there were many others along we are told.
And amongst these many other followers who accompanied Jesus on this tour were many women, three of whom are specifically named:
Mary Magdalene (from whom the seven demons had been cast out, a woman of the town of Magdala from where she got her name).
Joanna the wife of Cuza, Herodís steward (this may explain one of Herodís primary sources of information about Jesus and His ministry, cf. 9:7).
Joanna was with Mary Magdalene when she went to the sepulcher on that first Easter morning after Christís resurrection.
They were faithful to the end.
and Susanna was also in this contingent, a lady who is not mentioned again in the Scriptures.
These women, amongst many other women, were helping to support Jesus and the disciples out of their own means.
We are told this in:Luke 8:3b, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.
The women who followed Jesus had all been miraculously helped by Him for we know this from:
Luke 8:2, And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, 3And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herodís steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.
These three women were singled out by Luke and listed by name for they seemed to have in common; that of being miraculously delivered or healed of evil spirits and/or infirmities for which there was no remedy coming from human hands.
Some, like Mary Magdalene, were delivered of demon possession.
Others were healed of sicknesses and disease.
Others, may have been healed of injuries and disfigurations.
But all were beyond human help.
All of those mentioned who went with Jesus to be of help to Him were those who had experienced His help in their lives.
In one sense, the group which accompanied Jesus was a testimony to the identity of Jesus Christ as Messiah.
As Jesus went throughout the countryside preaching the good news of the kingdom of God, those with Him bore witness to the fact
that Jesus had given them:
sight when they had been blind,
had enabled them to walk, when they were paralyzed,
had freed them from demonic possession, when they had been in bondage to demons.
This crowd which accompanied Jesus was a walking testimony to the fact that he was the Messiah.
Can you imagine the personal witnessing going on from his crowd for Jesus had done much for each of them.
For this crowd by its very existence was a living testimony to the word of God given in Isaiah which foretold what the Messiah would do.
Isaiah 61:1-2a, The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,
It is not difficult to understand why those who had been healed by our Lord would want to be with Him as He traveled.
Remember who the Lord healed on Gadarene?
Jesus delivered the naked demoniac from the demons.
Because of this he desired to be with Jesus and I suppose this was the same desire expressed by many like him.
Luke 8:38-39, Now the man out of whom the devils were departed besought him that he might be with him: but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39Return to thine own house, and show how great things God hath done unto thee. And he went his way, and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him.
In both cases, that of the demoniac, who went home to his own people, and those many who accompanied Jesus, the good news was proclaimed by those who had been helped by the Messiah.
Luke also wants us to know that these women were not mere ďclingers-on,Ē or camp followers for they were active contributors to the proclamation of the gospel of the kingdom.
For the women who had been healed by Jesus and who now accompanied Him, were those who also supported the whole group out of their own means.
Speaking on a human level, this Galilean ministry of the Lord Jesus could not have been conducted without the support of these women.
That is as true in this ministry as I have already said.
Just look around you and see three times as many women as you see men just in this Sunday school class.
Somewhere I read that nowhere in the New Testament is mentioned any woman who opposed the Saviour.
That is quite a testimony for one of the two genders isnít it!
The other gender does not do so well does it?
The Lordís traveling group had to eat, and the food was provided by these women out of their own means.
No one can say for certain that the men did not contribute to the support of our Lordís mission, but we do know that many women played a crucial role in this matter.
It is my guess that the disciples supported Jesus early on, when they were still working (e.g. at their nets).
But now Jesusí disciples were working with Him, and most likely could not provide for the material needs of the group.
Supporting Jesus was something which the women could do because it was the right thing to do, and they apparently had the means to do it and they were eager to do it for Jesus had done so much for them.
Donít you suppose that these woman followed the Lord because of their desire to be with him and in so doing the Lord gave them a ministry to perform?
This is the proper order of things is it not?
They did not follow our Lord to ďhave a ministryĒ as much as they followed Christ to be with Him.
Being with Christ, these women were, like Him, sensitive to needs (even the hunger of those in the group) and to meeting these needs.
For being with him is to have his mind and to do those things that he would do.
Thus, these women were with Christ and also acted as He did in the face of needs.
First things first-follow Christ and then he will give you a ministry.
You donít have to look for a ministry with an intention of following Christ.
They followed him and he gave them a ministry.
Jesus could have, by miraculous acts, met all of the needs that these women met from their substance.
But the Lord allowed himself and His disciples to have need.
And he purposed that women meet their needs.
The Lord Jesus had proven His power and sufficiency in the lives of each who followed Him.
He did that which men could not do ó He performed a miracle in each life.
And yet He did not miraculously provide for the need of the group for their daily bread.
Why didnít Jesus miraculously provide food for His followers?