1 “And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing (showing) the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him,
2 And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils,
3 And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.
4 And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spoke by a parable:
5 A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.
6 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture.
7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.
8 And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit a hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Luke 8:1-8
This is a most interesting text because we are introduced to a number of women who accompanied Jesus in His mission. We usually think that the twelve disciples were His only companions, but that was not the case.
It is also worth noting that these women “were certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities.” These women, it seems, had been delivered from possession or debilitating illness. So here is the question, what were they doing travelling with Jesus?
First of all it seems that these women were followers of Jesus because they had experienced the healing hand of God’s grace. Once set free from the powers of Satan and his demonic influence on their lives they could never go back to a nominal everyday ho-hum way of life. But there is something else going on here as well. These women were ministering to Jesus out of their substance. (v.3)
Luke is telling us that not only is Jesus the great healer who changes lives, but we also can minister to Him through our generosity and service to others. As Christians we give back what we receive by ministering to others.
Though Mary Magdalene, Susanna and Joanna are directly named I am intrigued by Luke’s mentioning “and many others” as part of the team. Here in verse three we have conventional thinking and tradition overturned in one great swoop. Women, and a great number of them, accompanied Jesus and the disciples and were an intricate part of making the ministry a success.
In many evangelical and fundamentalist churches women are given a back seat at best. They are treated as secondary and not given the opportunity to preach, teach, or minister in any meaningful way. Leaders of the church quote Paul, out of context, and apply their understanding of the texts to women. The result is that the church looses its opportunity to grow spiritually and be nurtured by many fine women who have a lifetime of experience and wisdom to share.
The very fact that Jesus allowed these women to travel with them says volumes about His ministry. If you wanted to follow Jesus, no matter your gender, history, ethnicity, or former lifestyle you were invited to come along on the journey.
What I think is the most amazing aspect of these women travelling with Jesus is that I am sure eyebrows were raised by the legalists, Pharisees, and Priests of Israel. That didn’t matter to Jesus because He, the disciples, and the women were on a mission.
Mary Magdalene had been a woman with not the best reputation and also possessed by seven spirits. If you were concerned about your reputation as a spiritual leader she is not the type of woman you would bring along with you. But Jesus did. Joanna must have been a woman of unbelievable fortitude and strength to leave such a life of privilege and power to follow Jesus, but she did.
Every woman in the group had a story to tell and I am sure every story had its foundation in their personal encounter with the master healer Jesus.
When you read the Gospels knowing that women accompanied Jesus, at least on some of His mission trips, it is hard to comprehend why the Pharisees didn’t accuse Jesus of misconduct with these women. They accused Him of everything they could think about but never once about His relationship with His women disciples.
One of the great failures of modern Christianity is how often Pastors, Priests, and spiritual leaders fall because of sexual sin. We are a laughing stock to non-Christians and an embarrassment to our mission when time after time nationally known pastors have to step down because of their relationship with a woman in their congregation.
It is not only Pastors and Priests who fall because of sexual sin. Much too large a number of Christian men have addictions to pornography, and sexual fantasies. We can blame it on the Internet, sexually explicit and suggestive commercials or whatever we like, but the bottom line is we all too easily give in.
As Christians we have a mission and that mission includes men and women working side by side to accomplish God’s will for a lost world. There is no time for embarrassing the Gospel, Jesus, or ourselves in exploiting women either by seeing them as inferior in ministry or as sexual objects.
We are followers of Jesus and whoever wishes to follow along with us should be as welcome as if they were walking with Jesus, Mary, Susanna and the other women.
There is a Gospel to be proclaimed to a lost world and in order for that Gospel to go out into the entire world Jesus is counting on us all stepping up to the plate. We dare not call anyone out before they have had a chance to bat.
* Many people around the globe are experiencing persecution for their faith in God, and many even unto death. They need our support and continuous prayers. Please take the time to read some of their stories at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet but you have to search for it