23 July 2012Luke 8:1-3
"The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities." (vv. 1-2)
This is one of the many 'summary texts' found throughout Luke's Gospel and Acts that present brief snapshots of Jesus and his followers. The passage begins with a stress on Jesus' ongoing ministry of "proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God" (v. 1). This was good news because God was acting to save and redeem the world, albeit in ways unexpected by Jesus' contemporaries. Jesus announced this kingdom in word and deed, teaching as well as healing and performing exorcisms.
Jesus was not alone as he travelled, and Luke's Gospel explains that he was accompanied not just by "the twelve", but also by "some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities". These women provided support out of their resources, enabling Jesus and the disciples to spread the news of the kingdom.
Three women are mentioned, with Mary Magdelene the most well-known. There is no basis for the traditional identification of this Mary with the prostitute of Luke 7:36-50, but - as this text makes clear - her encounter with Jesus led to a profound transformation: exorcised of "seven demons", she is restored to wholeness. Along with the other women, Mary Magdelene also saw Jesus die (Luke 23:49) and was a witness of the resurrection (Luke 24:10; Matthew 28:1-10). Her significance as a faithful follower of Jesus, and witness of the risen Lord, leads to her place in the Church calendar today.
Women also crop up elsewhere in Luke's Gospel - it is only this Gospel that includes the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42), the parable of a woman and her lost coin (Luke 15:8-10), and Jesus' praise of a poor widow's charity (Luke 21:1-4). These makes it clear that women as well as men illustrate and participate in the good news of God's kingdom.
- To what extent does "proclaiming ... the kingdom of God" provide the centre of your church's ministry?
- What 'hidden supporters' are there within your church and how can they be affirmed?