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. (Luke 8:1-3)
When we read about how Jesus had chosen twelve disciples and these men followed Jesus during His three-year earthly ministry, it can be easy to get into the pattern of thinking that there were only these twelve men following Jesus. However, there were others that followed Jesus and Luke clearly describes women, of whom he specifically names three, who also were with Jesus during this time of going through cities and villages.
The Healed Women
We see here that the women who were following Jesus had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities. They had a close encounter with Jesus in which He healed them, and their response was to follow and serve Him by providing for Him out of their means. This is such a beautiful and genuine response – in essence, Jesus met them where they were, and they were now sold out for Jesus. He had given them life back, having been healed from evil spirits and infirmities, and they in turn decided to dedicate that life to Him.
It is clear that Mary Magdalene was demon possessed by seven demons when she first met Jesus, and that He cast them out of her. Mary was wholly dedicated to Jesus after He cast out those demons. She is mentioned throughout the gospels, from the moment of the demons being cast out through the resurrection of Jesus. She had been finally emptied of demons controlling her life, to choosing to follow Jesus and surrendering control of her life to Him as her Lord and Savior.
It’s interesting that Joanna, being the wife of Herod’s household manager, is named among the women who followed Jesus. She was a woman of affluence and wealth, and ironically, whose husband served the household of a man who wasn’t exactly fond of Jesus. She was also a married woman, and the social culture would not have looked acceptingly at her following Jesus the way she did. She would have likely given up a lot of clout and pomp when she decided to follow Jesus, and yet she not only gave up the social stance, but also gave of her wealth as she helped provide for Jesus as He served in ministry full time.
We don’t know much about Susanna, but we know that she was healed by Jesus, and she contributed from her means to help provide for Jesus during His ministry. So, while not much is said, what is said largely compliments her heart for the Lord.
It may seem like it’s unfair to the women whose names weren’t listed, but we know their hearts were to serve Jesus. They may not have had a mention by name in this passage, but their service will by no means be forgotten by God and their reward is in heaven.
When you serve and don’t get any recognition for your contribution, whether time, talent, money, or otherwise, don’t be discouraged because God sees your contributions and more importantly sees your heart. You don’t need man’s recognition to reap God’s reward.
Beyond the Money
It’s important to note that the financial provision wasn’t just about the money, it was mainly about the heart – that full surrender and willingness to use their means unselfishly and for furthering the kingdom of God. The same rings true today, our contributions to our church, ministry organizations, missions, etc. isn’t just about getting them funded. If God provided money from the mouth of a fish (Matthew 17), then certainly God can provide in whatever way He wants. Yet, He gives us the opportunity to be used in such ways and store eternal treasures and rewards even though we’re giving up our earthly ones now for His sake. Ultimately, we are called to be cheerful givers and to give according to what we purpose in our heart (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).
While we may not all get physical healing from Jesus, we are all offered the spiritual healing of our souls through Him. These women are all a beautiful example of a fully surrendered and wholly dedicated response to Jesus. Like these women, will you be fully surrendered to follow Jesus wherever that leads you, being a part of His gospel ministry of proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God, and be willing to provide for those needs out of your means as the Lord leads you to? I pray you will!