Thursday

22 July 2010

"Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God." (v.1)

Background

In these few verses Luke describes Jesus' itinerant ministry and its impact on people. Central to this ministry is the concept of the kingdom of God. This had its origins in the Hebrew Bible, in several psalms (such as Psalm 99:1) and some prophecies (for example,Daniel 6:26-27). According to this view, God as king would set the world to rights and rescue Israel from its enemies. The phrase 'kingdom of God' and various alternatives (like 'No king but God!') became revolutionary slogans in the 1st century AD.

But Jesus understood the kingdom in a very different way. He invited people to enter it by believing in him. For Jesus, the kingdom wasn't being established in a single move but in several stages, including his public career, his death and resurrection, and his coming again. His disciples were to proclaim the kingdom of God too (Luke 9:2).

Luke tells us that women were amongst those who responded to Jesus' message about the kingdom of God. Jesus was exceptional in his attitude towards women, and Luke records this fact more than any other New Testament writer. Here he tells us that several women have been healed by Jesus and that they now accompany him on his mission and support him with their own resources.

Luke mentions three women by name, the most well-known of which is Mary Magdalene. Magdalene comes from Magdala - a town on the Lake of Galilee (Matthew 15:39). Joanna is described as being the wife of Herod's steward Chuza. Herod Antipas was king of Galilee and his steward would manage his estate. Both Mary and Joanna went to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus (Luke 24:10). Susanna is not mentioned elsewhere and nothing more is known of her. All of these women have chosen to follow Jesus.

To Ponder

Jesus was a radical, not least in the way he understood the kingdom of God and in his attitude to women. Which of his radical ideas do we need to rediscover today?

Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Susanna had been healed by Jesus. What would you say to someone whose prayers for healing haven't been answered?

Bible notes author: Revd Caroline Ainger

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