The Gospel of Luke - Part 29: Believers Partner - Luke 8:1-3 (continued)

(These notes are based on lesson notes prepared by Rob Mahon for connection class leaders at Hoffmantown Church.)


Review:

Luke Chapters 7 and 8 focus and teach about faith. Chapter 7 deals with different levels of faith; Chapter 8 teaches about how true faith affects us. Last week we subtitled Chapter 8 as "Do You Really Believe?"

Remember that the Bible makes it clear that real faith will be conclusively demonstrated by our actions. Biblical belief means "to know and depend on".

We made the point last week that everyone lives by faith. Even an atheist lives by faith! The choice is not “faith” or “no faith”; the choice is rather what we will place our faith in.

Luke shows us that as followers of Jesus, as believers, there are several behaviors that we should be exhibiting, behaviors that Jesus exhibited. We will see that:

A.   Believers Partner(v.1-3)
B.   Believers Obey(v.4-21)
C.   Believers Tell Others(v.26-39)
D.   Believers Trust Jesus   (v.22-25,40-56)

Last week we started focusing on the fact that believers show faith by Partnering, by teaming up. Christianity is not a solo sport. It wasn’t for Jesus, and it is not for us. We based this on the first few verses of Luke Chapter 8.

Soon afterwards, He began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God. The twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means. —Luke 8:1-3
We saw that Jesus was proactive.   He went to the people who needed him, He did not sit back and wait for them to come to Him. We saw that He told us to go, not wait.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit... —Matthew 28:19
Then we noted that He did not travel alone. He had the Disciples with Him, the capital D Disciples, but he also had a group of small D disciples, some of whom Luke names. We noted that several are women, a scandal in that day. But we see by this just how important the women were in His ministry.

We noted how much Jesus had done for some of these women, and that their service to Him was a natural response for what He had done for them. He has done as much and more for each of us, making our service for Him a natural response.

a.  Mary Magdalene

Of the women mentioned, we talked about what an important role Mary Magdalene played. She was there with them from the early ministry through the crucifixion, burial and resurrection.

Continuing Today:

Having learned who Mary Magdalene was, now let’s look at the other women mentioned by Luke.

The Twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward... —Luke 8:1-3
b.   Joanna  was the wife of Herod's steward Chuza. Chuza was apparently the financial manager or property manager for Herod Agrippa. He was the regional king’s business manager, which makes him an important insider in the Roman government. It seems likely that she might have been a widow, since she was now traveling with Jesus, or perhaps she was still married to Chuza. We cannot tell.

Luke also mentions Joanna, in 24:10. She was one of the women who came to Jesus' tomb on the Sunday following the crucifixion and reported to the eleven the message that He had risen.

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing; and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead?  He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” And they remembered His words, and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles. —Luke 24:1-10
It is considered possible that Joanna could have been the source for Luke’s information with respect to matters relating to Herod. Joanna is mentioned only by Luke. He may have known and contacted her. This might account for the fact that the story of Jesus’ appearance before Herod is found only in Luke’s Gospel.

c.   Susanna:

The Twelve were with Him,  and also some women … : Mary … ,  and Joanna … , and Susanna, … —Luke 8:1,2,3 (excerpted)
Susanna is mentioned only here in the New Testament. Luke may have mentioned her by name because she was well-known to many who would read his Gospel. There is no other mention of Susanna by name, although there are references of the "other women", which are likely to include this Susanna.

d.   Many others:

... and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means. —Luke 8:3
Luke singled out these three women to mention by name, possibly because of their special devotion to Jesus. But apparently there were several women who accompanied Jesus and His disciples in their travels.

Can you think of other women who were disciples of Jesus?

Luke, describing the scene at the crucifixion says:
And all His acquaintances and the women who accompanied Him from Galilee were standing at a distance, seeing these things. And a man named Joseph, who was a member of the Council, a good and righteous man (he had not consented to their plan and action), a man from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who was waiting for the kingdom of God; this man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. And he took it down and wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid Him in a tomb cut into the rock, where no one had ever lain. It was the preparation day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee followed, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. —Luke 23:49-55
Of course, when we think of women who believed in Jesus, we must not forget His mother, Mary. She and other women were among the disciples who prayed in Acts 1, awaiting the coming of the Spirit:
When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. —Acts 1:13-14
If you pay attention, you’ll notice that there are many references indicating that women were disciples, with men: Dorothy Sayers, an early 20th Century writer, says
"Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this Man — there had never been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, who never flattered or coaxed or patronized; who never made arch jokes about them, never treated them either as 'The women, God help us!' or 'The ladies, God bless them!'; who rebuked without querulousness (habitually complaining, whining) and praised without condescension; who took their questions and arguments seriously, who never mapped out their sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no ax to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unselfconscious."
Women may not have been Apostles but they were important to Jesus, they were close to Him, they were used by Him in His work.

Did you know that the Scriptures speak more of Mary Magdalene than of some of the Apostles? Matthew and Thomas are referred to less in the Gospels than Mary Magdalene! Who is more familiar to you —  the sisters Mary and Martha, or the Apostles, Bartholomew and Thaddaeus? Don’t be misled by the false statements of ignorant people.   Jesus loves women, He wants close relationships with women, He wants to use women in His kingdom.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. —Galatians 3:28
"The Message" translation says it like this:
In Christ's family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ.” —Galatians 3:28 (The Message)
3.   What these women did for Jesus:
These women were helping to support them out of their own means. —Luke 8:3
As we read earlier, there are other references to these women in the other Gospels, though not as specific and detailed as here. They were at the cross.

Did you ever wonder how Jesus' ministry was financed? Now you know! Consider that Jesus could have miraculously provided for Himself and His disciples. But He chose not to. Instead, He allows these women the privilege of having a part in His work. Jesus had ministered significantly in the lives of these women and their response was to voluntarily give to His work.

"Think about it. Your giving says more about where you are spiritually than it does about where you are financially. The truth is that people don't start giving more when they have more money. People start giving more when they have more of God in their lives." (Rob Mahon)
Why do you think these women financially supported Jesus’ ministry?   Out of love and appreciation.

What do you learn from these women supporting Jesus financially?   Jesus allows us the incredible privilege of partnering with Him in His work in the world through our financial support.

If we are really experiencing Jesus in our lives, we are going to want to give back to Him. It’s the natural response of love. Love wants to give — like the sinful woman in Luke 7 and like these women here in Luke 8.

Why should we give?   There are many reasons given in Scripture: Would it make any difference in your giving if Jesus were the pastor of this church?

If Jesus were to come into our class and say, "I have some important ministries I want to accomplish through this church. I want to give you all the opportunity to have a part in those ministries through your giving."  Would you give more?

Our giving should always be to Jesus! Rob Mahon has a suggestion:

When I give to the church, I write on the remark line of the check: "For the Lord!". I do this to remind me that I'm not giving to Hoffmantown Church but to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
It was Winston Churchill who said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

Richard J. Foster, a Quaker Christian writer, said:

When we let go of money, we are letting go of part of ourselves and part of our security. But this is precisely why it is important to do it. It is one way to obey Jesus' command to deny ourselves. … When we give money, we are releasing a little more of our egocentric selves and a little more of our false security. … Giving frees us to care. It produces an air of expectancy as we anticipate what God will lead us to give. It makes life with God an adventure in the world, and that is worth living for and giving for.

Honor the Lord from your wealth
    And from the first of all your produce;
So your barns will be filled with plenty
    And your vats will overflow with new wine. —Proverbs 3:9-10

Notice that we are to give to God first. Many people pay all their bills (that is, spend money on themselves) and then see if they have anything left to give to the Lord.

Believers give! Not just once in awhile; not just when it's convenient; not just a $10 dollar bill in the plate. Believers give regularly and sacrificially and thankfully!

__________

Next week: - we will continue with Luke Chapter 8 and look at the fact that True Believers Obey.

Read through Luke 8 again, (or for the first time).

 



A.   Believers Partner(v.1-3)
B.   Believers Obey(v.4-21)
C.   Believers Tell Others(v.26-39)
D.   Believers Trust Jesus   (v.22-25,40-56)