July 24, 2023
“And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, and certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, and Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.”
In these few short verses in Luke, we discover something that should not surprise us: women are essential workers in God’s kingdom. Jesus and the disciples are able to travel and spread the good news of God’s kingdom because of these women and their generosity.
Luke highlights three women by name who were financially supporting Jesus and the disciples. This is not the first or last time Luke highlights the important contributions women make to the advance of God’s kingdom.
- He focuses our attention on Elizabeth and Mary in the birth of Jesus (1:5-80).
- He introduces us to Anna who eagerly awaited the consecration of the Christ child (2:36-28).
- He informs us in today’s passage of a group of women who financially supported Jesus.
- He notes that among those present when our Savior drew his final breath were “women who had followed him from Galilee” (23:49).
- He points out that it was women who were the first witnesses to the resurrection (24:1-12).
Luke cannot imagine telling us the story of God’s kingdom without telling us about the women who were essential to its development and advancement.
Luke mentions three women by name (Mary, Joanna, and Susanna) who traveled with Jesus to financially support him and his disciples (“provided for them out of their means”). But it wasn’t limited to three. Luke tells us there were “many others.” Our Savior’s earthly ministry was made possible in part by the sacrificial generosity of a group of women.
What can we learn from these women and their generosity?
1. God’s grace prompts their generosity.
We are told that each of these women had experienced God’s grace in a powerful way. Luke points out that these women “had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities.” These women weren’t trying to earn favor with God through their support of Jesus. They had experienced God’s favor and it resulted in generosity. Jesus frees us from bondage to sin and death. As we experience his liberation, our lives are re-oriented and our priorities change. His kingdom becomes more important than our comforts and convenience. The gospel changes our relationship with money. Instead of it ruling us, we joyfully give it to the One who gave himself for us.
2. God’s kingdom advances through their generosity.
Jesus and his disciples had basic material needs as they traveled “bringing the good news of the kingdom.” Food had to be purchased, livestock had to be tended, and other necessities were a reality even for the son of God. The financial generosity of these women made it practically possible for the kingdom of God to advance.
Today, God continues to use the sacrificial generosity of those who follow Jesus to spread the good news of the Kingdom. As we are prompted by God’s grace in our own lives to donate resources, God is pleased to use them so more people experience the freeing power of the gospel.
If you’ve spent any time among Christians, it doesn’t take long to observe that women are often quicker and more ready to contribute and sacrifice to see God’s Kingdom advanced. Every church grows because of the countless ways in which women put their talents to use for God’s Kingdom. The gospel of Jesus Christ continues to spread in large part because of generous women like those in Luke’s gospel.
Regarding the importance of women to Jesus’ ministry, J. C. Ryle points out,
It was not a woman who sold the Lord for thirty pieces of silver. They were not women who forsook the Lord in the garden and fled. It was not a woman who denied Him three times in the high priest’s house.—But they were women who wailed and lamented when Jesus was led forth to be crucified. They were women who stood to the last by the cross. And they were women who were first to visit the grave “where the Lord lay.
May we learn from and model our lives after these generous women along with the “many others” who give willingly and faithfully, and may we experience the power of the gospel that motivated them.
This devotional is excerpted from a free generosity devotional published by the PCA Foundation. You can access the entire devotional and order free copies here.