Thursday, March 13, 2014

SAVED TO SERVE (Luke Chapter 8)

Luke 8:1-3, “Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.”

As Jesus traveled through cities and villages, preaching the good news of the kingdom of God, He was accompanied by the twelve, and a group of women. These were women who had been healed of evil spirits and various infirmities. They traveled with the group and provided for their needs.

Three women are mentioned by name: Mary, called Magdalene; Joanna, and Susanna. Not much is elsewhere written about these women, but we can ascertain a few things about them from our text.

Mary Magdalene had been delivered from demon possession. Indeed, seven demons had gone out of her. Other instances of demon possession speak to the awful consequence of that affliction. Demon possessed individuals were mentally unstable and ongoingly prone to bouts of self-affliction. Their lives were literally hell on earth. Jesus delivered her from that hell.

Joanna and Susanna were likewise healed of either evil spirits or infirmities. Joanna, was a woman of privileged means. Her husband was Herod’s household manager. She had likely abandoned a life of comfort and ease to follow Jesus. No other mention is made of Susanna in the Scriptures.

Despite these differences, these women shared one thing in common—they served Jesus. They lovingly served Him. They had experienced His healing touch. They had believed Him and His message. They gladly and whole-heartedly devoted themselves to providing for the needs of the traveling group. And tough Susanna remains otherwise anonymous to us (in the Scriptures), the record of her service was duly recorded for posterity’s sake in this account of Jesus’ life.

Mary Magdalene and Joanna continued to follow Jesus (Susanna likely did also, but no record is given). They remained at the cross when others deserted Him. It was to them that the angel revealed the resurrection truth. They passed the message on “to the eleven and the rest” (Luke 24:9-10).

Noval Geldenhuys (The New International Commentary on the New Testament) wrote of this, “What a challenge and inspiration it must be for every woman to consider that, while nowhere in the four gospels is mention made of any women who were hostile to Jesus, there are numerous references to ministration and marks of honor which they accorded Him. With much affection and faithful devotion they ministered to Him with their possessions (verse 3)—to Christ Jesus who became poor so that we might be made rich. What an example of service to be followed by every woman who believes in Him!”

No matter the specifics of our individual backgrounds, we are all saved to serve. He has freed us from our afflictions to that end. Service involves sacrifice, but no sacrifice is too high for the One who has so sacrificed even His life to save us. These women faithfully served Jesus. God calls upon us to do the same.

The body of Christ includes many women who serve in likewise manner. They humbly serve Jesus with unrivaled devotion. They serve Him day-after-day, in countless ways, as they serve their husbands, families, and others. Their sacrifices, whether great or small, frequently go on unnoticed and receive no recognition. Be encouraged, faithful servant, the Lord is well aware of your service, in due time you will receive your reward (Galatians 6:9-10).

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