Tuesday 22 July 2014

Bible Book:

“Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.” (v. 3)

Luke 8:1-3 Tuesday 22 July 2014


Chapter 8 is a turning point in Luke'sGospel. From this point onwards the text focuses more on theteaching of Jesus rather than his healing activity. Jesus beginshis long journey towards Jerusalem, parables begin to come to thefore, and he sends his followers out on mission.

Luke's Gospel is particularlyinterested in the poor and the oppressed groups in Jewish society,depicting a kingdom, which includes them. It is in Luke's Gospel(Luke 4:14-21) that Jesus begins his ministry byreading Isaiah's declaration (Isaiah61:1-2) of good news to the poor. Matthew's beatitude "Blessedare the poor in spirit" (Matthew 4:3) is rendered "Blessed are thepoor" in Luke (Luke 6:20); and only in Luke's Gospel is therea corresponding woe to the rich (Luke6:24). It is alsoonlyin Luke's Gospel that the Parable of theGood Samaritan appears (Luke10:30-37) and later in that same chapter Mary and Marthadepicted as disciples, learning at the feet of Jesus (Luke10:38-42).

It should perhaps not surprise us,then, that we discover Jesus portrayed in this passage undertakinga prophetic action, that of demonstrating something of the comingkingdom. Those who followed Jesus included not only the 12, butalso a number of women. These women are not merely grateful'groupies' who had been cured. Rather they are partners in Jesus'mission for they support Jesus (and presumably the 12 also) out oftheir resources.

This is not a necessary detail forLuke's Gospel to include. Notably he is the only one of the fourevangelists to include this detail, or anything like it. One canonly conclude that Luke included it as one way of demonstratingsomething about the prophetic nature of Jesus' ministry.

Put another way, Jesus does not onlyembody prophetic ministry when he helps others as he heals thesick, casts out demons and proclaims the gospel of the kingdom.Jesus also embodies prophetic ministry when he receives help fromothers in the divine mission. That Jesus receives financial helpfrom women (in a way that is not recorded that he receives frommen) is in itself a profound prophetic act which validates theplace of women in a patriarchal society, making it clear that thekingdom includes such as they.

To Ponder

  • Actions often speak louder than words. What prophetic actsmight contemporary followers of Jesus undertake to signal somethingof our understanding of the kingdom?
  • Jesus received the support of a number of women, a group whowere not typically well resourced in first-century Jewish culture.What opportunities and challenges are there for creating space forthose who are similarly not well resourced in the 21st centuryto be partners in the gospel (good news of Jesus)?
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