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The Women Who Supported Jesus

The Gospel of Luke  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  33:18
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The Women Who Supported Jesus - Luke 8:1-3

INTRO:
Support ministry is critical to the mission.
Even or especially in a military setting, I wonder what small percentage of mission success is actually due to the final activity in the heat of battle versus all the preparation and underlying support that has gone before and is made available to the soldiers?
I also wonder, in Christian ministry, how often a person might perceive their activity as small and mundane, and yet such service to the Lord should never be belittled, not even in our own hearts. It is not small to the Lord because any service he gets from the sincerity of our hearts is a win for his glory. Such service is never wasted nor is it minor in the sight of God.
Can you imagine if Susanna Wesley had belittled her faithful service to the Lord in raising God-fearing children? Among other siblings, John and Charles Wesley were the God-glorifying result!
Even so what we have from Luke in this simple summary is a brief but important emphasis on the role of…

The Women Disciples & Support Ministry

Following his inclusion of the episode where an unnamed woman gratefully worships Jesus (knowing the depth of her sin debt and the greatness of the forgiveness she receives), Luke chooses to here insert the essential role of women who responded to Jesus and the ongoing support ministry that some of them have (toward Jesus and the Twelve).
They (the Twelve and especially these women here emphasized) are examples of those responding rightly to Jesus: They understand the significance of Christ’s intervention on their behalf & Their life focus shifts toward serving Jesus…
They understand the significance of Christ’s intervention on their behalf. - “healed of evil spirits and infirmities” - Like the woman in the previous passage…
And like Mary, distinguished from so many other Mary’s (a common name) by “Magdalene,” meaning that she was from Magdala, a city on the western shore of Galilee.... Without any other details as to the event itself, Luke tells us here that she had previously been healed by Jesus of demon possession (in facts, 7 demons had come out of her). - Although some writers in the past associated this same Mary with the sinful woman in the previous passage, that really doesn’t make a lot of sense in the biblical text, since Luke mentions Mary by name here for the first time. Given Mary’s prominent role later in the narrative and Luke’s attention to detail, it makes no sense for Luke to not make it clear if this woman had in fact been Mary, and make a clear connection then as well to her demon possession.
Another wrongheaded perception of Mary Magdalene comes from popular media suggesting that this Mary was also married to Jesus and even had a son with him. “The NT simply informs readers that Jesus healed her of demonic possession, and that she gratefully followed him to the foot of the cross and the empty tomb” (The ESV Study Bible).
Luke mentions the names of two other women whom he had come to know by name in his research of the life of Jesus and the Apostles: Joanna and Susanna. Of the latter we know absolutely nothing, only that her name was Susanna. (Perhaps she was someone that Luke or Paul knew personally? We don’t know. Just that she was among these women whom Jesus had healed and now had an ongoing support ministry, having responded this way to what Jesus had done.) Of Joanna we are told only that she came from a different level of society because her husband Chuza functioned in some official capacity: “The word translated steward may mean the manager of Herod’s estates, or it may point to a political office.” Leon Morris, Luke: An Introduction and Commentary, 169.
These women, among several others, clearly understood from what Jesus had graciously done for them that he was someone of no small consequence. So too…
Their life focus shifts toward serving Jesus. - they were “with him” in his travels and “who provided for them out of their means”
Those who have experienced the Savior’s mercy have the privilege of serving Him out of love. (Steve Cole)
In the context then of the critical ministry of this band of ladies, I would like to note three things the verses indicate that are helpful to us in our pursuit of God-glorifying service to our Lord.
[outline]

Ministry’s Main Aim: Gospel Proclamation

As we see it was for Jesus during the time of his earthly ministry, the primary goal of everything that we do as believers is ultimately to proclaim the good news that the kingdom of God has been inaugurated in the person and work of Christ!
Again, what is the good news? The good news is that through the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are offered complete restoration to personal relationship with almighty God. (again, notice I didn’t say it means getting to go to heaven instead of hell… although it will ultimately result in that) It means being made right with God, both now and forever. - In order to be made right with God, each person must respond in faith that Jesus is indeed Lord. See ch. 7:50 - “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
We still await with great expectation the future consummation of the kingdom, a glorious end for which the Church prays and longs. But during the days of Jesus, as it is now, the heavenly kingdom is present on earth through Christ and continues and grows in the hearts of those who belong to him by faith.
Luke 17:20–21 ESV
Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”
The only tangible evidence of the kingdom of God is the lives changed by the intangible truth of God’s work within us. And we carry with us the privilege and responsibility (higher than any other calling offered to us in this life) to live for and to present to others the life-changing and history-altering truth of the intervention of God on earth through Jesus.
If this mission focus is so critical, why does it seem that we are so inclined to lose sight of it? ***
Hebrews 12:1–2 ESV
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Practically speaking, we must stay close to the ordinary means of God’s grace to us so that we will be drawing near to God, abiding in Christ. I mean first of all reading and applying God’s truth (revealed in the Bible) by the power of the Holy Spirit. I mean secondly committing your heart to the Lord in prayer—in both dedicated and focused times of prayer and in momentary conversation with God. I mean thirdly that you avail yourself of the life on life aspect of being the church with other believers in accountability and encouragement, and in serving side by side. I mean fourthly that you do what you are here doing this morning, meeting regularly with believers for big-picture obedience to God and for spiritual encouragement and for receiving regular and consistent teaching from the Bible. And finally, I mean that you go out and routinely exercise the privilege to share Christ with those God places in your path, and to look like, love like, and lead like Jesus in all opportunities and all aspects of life.

Ministry’s Many Opportunities: An Honor to Serve in Any Capacity

I don’t know about you, but I will tell you honestly that this topic just makes me uncomfortable… not the many opportunities of ministry, but within the context of God-given roles for men and women within families and the church. I credit this awkwardness to two causes:
Men have long overstepped and inappropriately warped God’s intention for how authority should be exercised and limited. (I mean, there’s a large degree to which men throughout history have brought this upon ourselves. And as Jesus teaches, it is a sinful human inclination to Lord it over those under our charge (Mt 20:25) rather than viewing ourselves as being examples and the chief servants to those in our care (1 Pet 5:3, Mt 20:26-28).
While the feminist movement may well have helped bring this (needed realization) to our attention, it has also continued at the expense of God’s intention for ordering our lives. - Submitting to God’s will and God’s rule and doing things God’s way should never be viewed as demeaning, but rather as a privilege and opportunity to be like Christ in ways that others with different roles cannot.
So our current culture makes me feel like I’m up here “mansplaining” :-), but if we’re honest, that’s not fair to God’s word.
Here’s where this is going: While these women were not selected to be among the Twelve, they were true and consistent disciples of Jesus who gladly served him with the opportunity afforded them.
The Twelve men whom Jesus selected to be his apostles Luke listed back in 6:12-16. Women were not named among them. Nor were women among the 72 sent out in pairs shortly thereafter (Luke 10)—those in that type of proclamation ministry were men. - It’s worth noting then that later NT teaching on the subject of men in leadership roles in the church and in the home is consistent with Jesus’ own ministry practices.
Also consistent with Jesus own ministry here and NT teaching overall is that Jesus in fact gives women far more recognition than was the norm for the culture of the day. It is fair to say that Jesus elevated women above the status given them by society (even as does Luke himself in highlighting women responding to Jesus and the important roles of women in ministry). - While a Rabbi (or yet even a Pharisee) would allow women to financially support him (as we see these women also doing), it would not have been their practice to have any female disciples. So Jesus allowing these women to be his disciples, participating in and traveling with his ministry, might even be considered scandalous. But as we would expect from him, Jesus is more concerned with what is right than what the religious establishment would expect from him.
Here’s the bottom line:
One’s spirituality or significance to Christ is not measured by one’s prominence, power, or position, but by one’s heart for God and devotion to Him. (Bob Deffinbaugh)
When we start worrying about the recognition of our role, we have lost sight of the servant heart of ministry: Make it your aim to be the chief servant, like Jesus.

Ministry’s Necessary Means: Using Money to Serve Rather Than Serving Money

These ladies in Luke 8:2&3 contribute to the advance of God’s kingdom through their resources, a practical means of serving the mission.
There really did have to be financial and service support for things so simple (and yet so critical) as food and housing provisions for Jesus and the Twelve as they traveled, as well as funds for helping others in need.
see also v. 7 and v. 14 about the danger of a wrong heart toward riches (and the cares of this life)
From a biblical understanding, money and possessions are not a goal in themselves but merely a means to meet necessities and as a tool to advance the gospel.
I hear some young people saying they want to make a lot of money so they can give a lot away. That may be sincere, or it may betray a lack of self-awareness, that “making a lot to give a lot” is merely their own hearts making a Christian excuse for having an aim to make a lot of money and live comfortably.
I have a lot of respect for friends of mine who choose not to have cable or satellite television bc they don’t need it (and not bc they can’t afford it if they want to). Instead, they would rather spend more on groceries to host people in their home for encouraging believers and witnessing to unbelievers. They would rather make other sacrifices (simple things like cable TV and not eating out as often as some might) so that they can give more generously to the Lord’s work overall, supporting the local church and missionaries.
I’m not telling you these things to guilt you. I’m just giving practical examples of how other believers might have a wise and healthy view on money and possessions.
[Conclusion]
Support ministry is critical to the mission.
***
A couple more applications to close with:
It makes me stop and ponder, how important it must be for the success of wise decisions and helpfulness to others to be daily devoting our hearts to the Lord in prayer and reading his Word (actively listening to what he communicates about himself and how we ought to respond to him).
It makes me stop and ponder the value of your prayers, carrying the concerns of others to the Lord’s throne on their behalf. “God, glorify yourself in their hearts and in the process and in the outcome!”
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