After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.
While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”
When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
His disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that,
“‘though seeing, they may not see;
though hearing, they may not understand.’
“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
It’s funny, doing these knee jerk devotionals (#kjd drop this tag when you share the devotional with your social media =D) I find myself catching little things that I often read past or that don’t get the attention during sermons.
This morning I was struck by the way Luke introduces this section. He expands Jesus “with them” a bit.
Did you catch it?
“The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.”
This reminded me again that in many religious circles (not just Christian) and in many other circles women often get the short end of the stick, yet they were there and they were significant.
Remember this was written in the late first century. Women were definitely in a position of lower estate than men. They had significantly fewer rights and little power. The Jewish Scriptures did move the needle compared to the other cultures around them. But, still, the women were oft ignored and better to be seen and not heard.
Luke gives a specific, named, shoutout to who must have been the three key women in the Jesus movement of the time: Mary (called Magdalene), Joanna, and Susanna. These women weren’t groupies. These women supported Jesus and The Twelve out of their own financial means.
We really ought not to miss the significance of these women.
When you’ve read the Bible have you even wondered how Jesus and the fellas could travel all over the place and apparently not work? The women were why.
The really funny thing is, Joanna was the wife of Herod’s household manager. So Herod, who hated Jesus, was partially funding his ministry. You have to love the irony, no?
As I think over my life there have been key women who have left lasting impact on me. I have been changed because of their role in my life. My Mom is probably the strongest person I know. My Mimi was not far behind. She was just “there” growing up. My wife, Amy, has shaped me more than any other person. I am the best version of myself because of her. My daughter, Libby, has just continued the work her mom started. I think of my Aunt Molly and Aunt Cheryl, in particular as women who have, at various times, provided encouragement and strength to keep going. They probably don’t even realize they’ve done so.
Then I think of the women over the years in our congregation who have lead and provided a backbone for our community of faith. Women like Bianca, Polly, Nicole, Laura, Jennifer, Lori, Sue, Mindy, and Sarah, and so many others!
I’ve been honored to get to know Janet and Joanne up in Flint as I have served their congregation on Sunday mornings. These two women are so faithful in their leadership. It is amazing.
In my scholarship I think of Rev. Dr. Laura Hunt, in particular, who continues to challenge me and grow me in my thinking.
I’ll tell you, as a man in ministry, I don’t think there’s any way that I could do what I do without the women in my life.
Loving well is not what I would call “easy” for me. Thankfully, these women (and more) model it and hold me accountable.
I’m grateful this morning.
Who are the women that have shaped you? Who are some of the important women who form your “with them”? It would be fun to hear those stories in the comments.