Learning from Three Women Who Followed Jesus (Luke 8:1-3)
Learning from Three Women who Followed Jesus
When I was in middle school, there was something troubling me (I can’t remember what it was), but I talked to Mom about it. Here is what Mom said, “Son, the Lord will provide.” That statement comes from Genesis 22:8. In that context, Abraham is going to offer his son, Isaac, as a burnt offering to God. On the way to the altar, Isaac sees the wood and the fire but there is no lamb. He asks his dad about it and his dad replies, as my mom did: “God will provide.”
Every child needs a parent to teach them that statement: “God will provide.” My mom taught me many things. You can learn many spiritual lessons from women.
There once was a Christian man who loved to travel. He wanted to serve God the best he could, but he wasn’t sure how. Until one day he heard about a family moving to Southeast Asia to do mission work and he realized he could combine his two passions of traveling and God. He was a missionary in the Pacific Islands until he died. His tombstone read, “When he moved here, there were none saved. When he left, there were none lost.” All of us can serve God in some way; it’s not necessarily the same way as the other person.
Often, women think to themselves, “What can I do, really?” Or, “Ladies Days aren’t as important as leading in worship.” Or, worst of all, “I can’t even do much for the kingdom of God.” But these women illustrate that each has something God will use to bring the lost to him. Whether it be our past, like Mary, our present situations like Joanna, or our resources like Susanna. There are many lost souls who need Jesus, whether in the Pacific Island or Swartz Creek, MI and God intends to use us who were out to find them.
When we pick up with Jesus in Luke 8, He is traveling from village to village to teach people the gospel. On this particular occasion, He has a number of women who are a part of His traveling group. It was unusual for women to be traveling in a group if they weren’t married to any of the men in the group. Jewish rabbis refused to teach women. They assigned women an inferior place to men.
It is interesting that the Gospel records show no animosity toward Jesus on the part of women. All Christ’s enemies were men.
GOD CAN USE OUR PAST:
Like Mary… to save the lost. Luke 8:2 tells us Mary had seven demons. Magdala was on the coast of the Sea of Galilee, an important business city.
Demons in the NT affected people’s health, as we see in Matthew 9:32 and Mark 9:18 - blind, mute & epileptic men. Likely, those in this society who were afflicted by demons were alienated, like we see of the man in Mark 5:4 who was possessed by Legion.
Mary was not a normal woman in Israel. She likely didn’t have many friends outside of Jesus and His followers. But you better believe that those who were demon possessed and healed by Jesus found friend and solace in Mary Magdalene. Her whole life was changed by Jesus, so she followed Him.
Mary likely didn’t love her past, but you can be sure that she let God use her past to save others healed by Jesus. Mary would be especially helpful in showing demon-possessed people that freedom from Satan was found in Jesus Christ. The common view today, influenced as it has been by church tradition rather than biblical teaching, is that Mary Magdalene was an immoral woman, normally associating her with the sinful woman in Luke 7:36ff but there is no reason to make that association and there is nothing bad said about Mary, except for having these seven demons.
Mary’s past was used by Jesus to save the lost. God will do the same with you. Whatever your past, it might be exactly what someone else needs to hear to know they’re not alone and that God wants them too. There are people you can reach because of your past, that I can’t reach and vice versa. Whatever your past, seven demons and all, God will use it to proclaim and bring the good news of the kingdom of God to the lost.
Let’s read about another woman who used her past to help her influence others for Christ: John 4:28-30.
Let’s read together 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.
Noah got drunk. Abraham was old. Jacob was a liar. Joseph was abused. Rahab was a prostitute. David had an affair. Elijah was suicidal. Peter denied Christ. Yet God used all of these people and more to spread His glory and tell others about Him.
GOD WILL USE YOUR PRESENT:
Like Joanna… to save the lost. Luke 8:3 tells us that Joanna’s husband Chuza, was Herod’s household manager. Following Jesus would have been a huge risk, as Joanna’s husband’s boss tried to have Jesus killed, and eventually succeeded. But Herod’s household was filled with Roman idol worshipers. Joanna had a mission field in front of her and God was going to use it. The household manager would have been fairly high up in Herod’s house, had a lot of responsibilities and was well respected. This man’s wife, Joanna, was a follower of the cousin of the man Herod put to death. Can you imagine the type of danger Joanna could have been in? Her discipleship of Christ may have put a strain on Joanna’s marriage. Joanna had a lot of people in her “sphere of influence” whom she could influence for good.
When Paul was in prison in Philippi, he used his present situation to convert some of his guards, the soldiers in the Praetorian Guard (Phil. 1:13).
In Acts 16:25, Paul and Silas brought the lost to God while they were in jail. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 tells us that Paul used his thorn in the flesh to glorify God. God used Timothy, not despite his youth, but because of it (1 Timothy 4:12). Joanna, and Mary Magdalene, are found in the resurrection story in Luke 24:10. It appears that these two women, with others, were eyewitnesses of the resurrection of Christ.
Your school, job, sports field, friend group, family, and anything else in your life can be used by God to, like Joanna, proclaim and bring the good news of the kingdom of God to the lost. You are building relationships with someone whom you can then tell about the gospel.
GOD CAN USE OUR RESOURCES:
Like Susanna… to save the lost. All we know about Susanna is that she provided for Jesus and His disciples out of her own means. Travel, in ancient times especially was a very expensive and consuming affair. If Jesus had all His apostles with them, that would have been 12, plus Jesus and these three women, at a minimum. That’s 16 people. You have food needs, other materials, the animals if they had any. Yet Susanna, a woman who might not have worked, was using all she had to help Jesus. Her “means” was perhaps an inheritance and Susanna was willing to let God use it. But that’s not all Christ’s disciples gave Him.
They also gave Him encouragement (Luke 10:21), time (Mark 1:18), and energy (Luke 22:50). Susanna may have made dyed goods like Lydia in Acts 16. Or clothing like Dorcas did in Acts 9. Or maybe she was in a family business like Aquila and Priscilla in Acts 18:1-4.
We may have money to put in the collection plate, a giving heart to make encouraging cards, or a car to drive your friends to church with you. Whatever you have can be used by God to proclaim and bring the good news of the kingdom of God to the lost. Giving people our resources is a great way to bring them to Christ, showing Christ’s compassion, spending time with someone and doing something for someone are all ways to demonstrate how you care about someone. And, of course, you can’t evangelize and influence someone you don’t know.
How many people came to Christ because of Susanna’s generosity?
God needs women who are willing to let Him use their past, present situations, and resources to bring the lost to Him. How many people were saved because of Mary, Susanna, and Joanna?
Philippians 1:6 and Ephesians 2:10 tell us that God wants to use us for his glory. Let God use your love of traveling to make you a missionary, your love of people to open a local soup kitchen, or a simple smile to open the door to a Bible study.
Take home message: God wants to use your past, present situations, and resources to bring the lost to salvation. So what will you let God use to save the lost?