During our series on “Ordinary People” we’ve been looking at the 12 disciples. These men traveled with Jesus and would go on to become the 12 apostles and early church leaders. In Luke 8 I want to show you something that may surprise you. Many people do not know that Jesus also included women in His ministry who traveled with them:
“…The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary, called Magdalene (seven demons had come out of her); Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward; Susanna; and many others who were supporting them from their possessions.” (v. 1-3)
The crowds came to Jesus but there was a privileged core group of men and women. In the first century, women were treated as second-class citizens, but Jesus crossed all social barriers. He treated all men and women equally. World religions put women down, but Jesus lifted them up. There are several things we can learn from these women on what it means to follow Jesus.
Mary Magdalene – Bring Jesus Your Pain
Mary Magdalene is mentioned in all four gospels and was an important part of Jesus’ life and ministry. Mary had a past, but she is not to be confused with the woman who anointed Jesus in Luke 7. Because she was from Magdala, a city known for prostitution, she has been portrayed as a woman of ill repute. Some have said she is the woman caught in adultery in John 8. There is no evidence or biblical proof that she was a prostitute, but she did battle all kinds of demonic bondage. We are not told the details of her deliverance, only that Jesus set her free! Demon possessed people never came to Jesus. He came to them, or others brought them. Mary was not seeking Jesus, but Jesus sought her. Your past has no hold on your present or future! “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all thing have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). After the Lord healed Mary and set her free, she became one of His most dedicated disciples. She is mentioned no less than 14 times and we know more about her than we do most of the Twelve. She was at Jesus’ trial, crucifixion, and burial, and she was the first to see the empty tomb, angels, and the risen Christ. Mary’s story shows Jesus’ love for you. When you have lost hope, you’re overwhelmed, or think you cannot go on, Jesus knows your name! Mary’s story did not end with her pain, agony, and buried dreams. She went to the tomb expecting to find a dead body and instead she was the first to see that He lives! Because He lives you can face tomorrow!
Joanna – Bring Jesus Your Position
Joanna was a woman of status. Her husband managed King Herod’s estate. Her name means Jehovah has shown favor/God is generous. God has His people everywhere. Joanna represents a woman of power. You have heard it said, “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” She used her position and influence for Christ. No doubt when Herod had John the Baptist beheaded it troubled her, but she was well positioned for the task God had given her. God has you where He needs you to be, just like Esther who had come to the kingdom for such a time as this. Joanna knew where her allegiance belonged. Jesus is Lord! Don’t let anything stop you from being all God wants you to be and from receiving all God has for you.
Susanna – Bring Jesus Your Possessions
We don’t know much more about Susanna apart from that she supported Jesus’ ministry out of her possessions. How do we show our gratitude to God for all He has done for us? Generosity is an act of gratitude. We give freely. Freely you have received, freely give. We give bountifully. If we sow bountifully, we will reap bountifully. We give cheerfully. God loves a cheerful giver. You don’t have to be rich to be generous. The last day of Jesus’ public ministry He sat at the Temple and watched a widow put in two mites. He watched her give her all and went to the cross and gave His all. These women gave out of their substance and service. Today we do the same.
Many Others – Bring Jesus Your Prayers
As influential as Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna were, they are no more important than the many others unnamed. The “many others” represent all the unnamed, unknown, unsung heroes, women of faith who helped spread the gospel from city to city, village to village, nation to nation. Women were mentioned many times in the early church. Acts 1:14 says, “They all were continually united in prayer, along with the women….” Acts 16:13 says, “On the Sabbath day we went outside the city gate by the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and spoke to the women gathered there.” There is something about praying women. Women won’t let go of something easily. A man would pray some short King James prayer. But a woman can pray heaven down! She is like the persistent woman who prayed and would not stop until she got what she asked for. God is moved by the petitions of a praying woman.
I want to remind all the women, God is not through with you yet. Men and women, let’s get the good news of the gospel to every city and everyone. Let’s bring Jesus our pain, walk with Him, use our influence, and support the work of the Lord with everything that we have till Jesus comes or call us home!