The Beginning of Women’s Radical Ministry
Luke 8:1-3 ESV
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, 2 and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, 3 and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.
Last week we began a short series on the theme “Radical”. As mentioned last week, the idea came from some reflections on the book Radical, but this is by no means a repetition of that book.
We are using the word radical in this way: Jesus came to bring people to a fundamental and extreme change in our relationship with God and our way of life before God. Last week we saw that true Christianity is based on the Radical Redeemer. And those who follow Christ Jesus get involved in his radical way of life. Today we want to look at a group of women who became radical in their relationship with God and in their way of life.
I. These women experienced radical change.
A. They had been oppressed by evil spirits or afflicted with diseases.
Notice how Dr. Luke distinguishes between these things. Some suffered because of the spiritual forces of evil, while others suffered because of natural causes like bacteria, viruses, and system disorders. The ancients were not as gullible as people of our arrogant time ignorantly assume.
1. Many diseases in ancient times were beyond human cures. People chased vainly after wildly concocted potions in the hope of being cured. To describe some of these supposed cures would turn your stomach. Many times people would die of fever, since they lacked the medicine or knowledge to bring it under control. We fail to remember the devastation caused by physical afflictions like smallpox or syphilis or tuberculosis or tetanus. We are all living in a happy time. How many women died or were broken physically by diseases and disorders connected with childbirth! Some of these women were being ruined by physical causes before Jesus cured them.
2. We should also refresh our memories with the devastating effects of demonic possession or affliction. We have already read a couple examples from Luke’s Gospel (4:31-37; 8:26-37; 9:37-43). These form a catalog of insane behavior that tells about what was personally and socially destructive. Think particularly of Mary’s critical case (seven demons!) before Jesus cured her.
B. Jesus cured them because of his authority over all human life. When Jesus came, the reign or rule of God (the kingdom of God) came because the king had come. The Radical Redeemer has authority to cure! Consider how Matthew presents his authority in a concise way.
1. He had authority in his teaching (7:28-29).
2. He had authority over sickness (8:1-15).
3. He had authority over demons (8:16).
4. He had authority over people (8:18-22).
5. He had authority over nature, over God’s creation (8:23-27).
6. He had authority over a legion of demons (8:28-34).
7. He had authority over the forgiveness of sinners (9:1-8).
Apply: Clearly, Jesus has authority over everything and exerts his authority through the power of the Holy Spirit.
This has a two-sided application.
First, if you are resisting his authority over you, you have a serious problem, because you are in rebellion against the Lord of all.
But second, if you are being ruined by sin and its consequences, he has authority to cure you. This is what Mary, Joanna, Susanna, and many other women learned, and so they became learners or followers of Jesus. Come and join this group of radical women.
C. These woman were brought to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Observe the message that Jesus was preaching—the good news of the kingdom (reign or rule) of God. This message demanded two interconnected responses (Mk 1:15).
1. It requires repentance or a change of mind.
This change of mind involves a turn from looking at life apart from God to seeing God’s supremacy in all things. God must have first place; Christ must be my final authority. This includes a genuine or God-focused sorrow for sin (2 Cor 7:7-11). Sin is no longer seen as okay, but as rejection of God, as refusal to love God, and as rebellion against God and his ways.
2. It requires faith.
True faith is trust or reliance or dependence in the Lord. You commit yourself to the Lord to be right with God and for eternal life. You trust him with your life now, since you have also come to see the foolishness of life apart from God (cf. Jesus’ explanation of the parable of the Sower (8:9-15).
Apply: Have you come to have this radical change of mind and commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior? You will never make it apart from God’s grace that enables you to know that Christ is better and Christ is sufficient.
II. These women exhibited radical consecration. Having been set apart by God’s grace for God, they set the way they lived apart for Jesus Christ.
A. They joined the group of Christ’s followers.
1. They had come to understand that what Jesus taught and did were far better than how they had been spending their lives. So they decided to invest their lives in what was better—hearing the Lord’s word and doing it.
2. This decision was costly. They had to leave what was familiar. They had to endure criticism and hardship. Where do you think they spent their nights—at the Hyatt Regency? Most nights they would be out sleeping on the ground. They would be tired from moving from place to place across Galilee and Judea. They would become hungry and thirsty, like the others. And every day, they were following Jesus to the cross! Theirs was a very costly choice.
Apply: Ladies, what choices are you making to pursue making disciples instead of making yourself comfortable?
B. They contributed financially.
1. Though they constantly saw the miraculous in the works of Jesus, they did not see Jesus providing miraculously for the daily bread of this group. Oh yes, he fed the crowds on two occasions, but that was not their usual experience. They were not following a traveling restaurant. The disciples had to buy food. Are there any guesses about who went for water and cooked the food and did the dishes? And how many were in this core group? Let’s see: Jesus, the Twelve, perhaps some other men, and the three named women and many others. That sounds like a sizable grocery bill. And somebody would have to pay for it.
2. This brings us to another radical cost for these women. They were helping to support them. They didn’t do it all, but what they did was significant. They had to make choices. What would they choose—a new outfit, perfume, or jewelry? Or would they spend their worldly wealth to lay up treasures in heaven?
Apply: Sisters, I can’t and won’t tell you what to do with your money. It is none of my business to set up your daily schedule. But I want you to think seriously about how you’re using your lives and all that the Lord has given you. Are you a radical woman—a fully committed follower of the Lord Jesus Christ? How are the choices you make consistent with Christ and the gospel? How do you need to change?
Pastor Dave Frampton
The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are featured here at CMC. As a Bible teacher he excels. Teachers and student alike will profit much from his labor in the God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.