Today's Reading – Luke 7:36-8:3 – And also some women
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In Luke 8:1-3 we have a wonderful cameo of Jesus travelling around with his disciples as he preaches in a variety of towns and villages. Our picture of Jesus and his disciples is often of a group of men. Here we are told that it included women. More than that, these women played a vital role in supporting Jesus’ ministry out of their own means (Luke 8:2).
They must have been women who were comparatively wealthy for them to be able to offer such support. Indeed, we are told that one of them was “Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household” (8:3). What an irony! Herod “the Great”, father to the Herod mentioned here, had murdered baby boys in Bethlehem in an attempt to destroy Jesus at birth; now the wife of the man who manages his son’s household is providing significant support to his ministry. Indirectly, Herod Antipas – the Herod who had put John the Baptiser to death and was later to mock Jesus at his trial – is now financing Jesus’ ministry. His was a household divided against itself. His kingdom was doomed to perish while the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ will triumph and last for ever.
God delights in turning opposition to his kingdom to his own advantage. That, after all is the what we see at the cross.
Why do the nations conspire
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the LORD and against his anointed, saying,
“Let us break their chains
and throw off their shackles.”
The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord scoffs at them.
He rebukes them in his anger
and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,
“I have installed my king
on Zion, my holy mountain.”
I will proclaim the LORD’s decree:
He said to me, “You are my son;
today I have become your father.
Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance,
the ends of the earth your possession.
You will break them with a rod of iron;
you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
Therefore, you kings, be wise;
be warned, you rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear
and celebrate his rule with trembling.
Kiss his son, or he will be angry
and your way will lead to your destruction,
for his wrath can flare up in a moment.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him. (Psalm 2)
There may be times when we are fearful for the future of the kingdom of God. We see declining church attendance, unsympathetic legislation, the rise of militant Islam … How can we survive in such an unsympathetic environment?
We need a fresh view both of the big picture and of the fine details. We need to recapture the vision of God’s sovereign purpose to glorify his Son and to have him recognised and owned as Lord of all. He will not allow his purpose to be defeated. God always has the last word. And we need also to be more aware of the many small stories of people whose lives have been touched and transformed by Jesus and who are making a difference in the work of the kingdom. Jesus still has his Mary Magdelenes and Joannas. We too can make a difference.
Living God, creator of the universe and sovereign Lord over all that you have made, help me to see that in Jesus you are establishing your kingdom in this world and that it is a kingdom which cannot be shaken. By your Spirit increase my faith, hope and love: a faith that trusts Jesus fully; a hope that is confident that all creation shall one day share in his resurrection glory; a love poured out in the costly devotion of ceaseless prayer and tireless work in the cause of the kingdom.