1 And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him.
2 And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils,
3 And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.
4 And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable:
5 A sower went out to sow his seed… Lk. 8:1-5
This is the final part of this series.
It is clear from our key scripture above that women had an important role to play in the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ just as the men. But this scripture also sets the standard by which God apportions ministry to both women and men in the church. Today, especially, there is so much confusion concerning the ministry of women. But scripture here sets a precedent by which, if we humble ourselves, we cannot go wrong.
I believe Genesis 2:18 lays the basis of how our Lord Jesus Christ went about conducting His earthly ministry. There we read:
“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.”
The first man, Adam, was a priest. He ministered to God. And God saw it was not possible for His servant to minister alone. So He made Adam
“an help meet for him.”
When we talk of ministry, therefore, we are talking of two ministries: firstly, the five-fold ministry, which is given directly by Jesus for the building of the church; and this, as we saw, He gives to the man for two reasons: first, for He is the head of the man; and, secondly, because the man exercises the authority of God in the church.
But there is another ministry: the ministry of helps. God brought along Eve to help Adam in ministry.
By and large, as we see here and elsewhere, God has put women in the ministry of helping the man. This fits in with God’s original plan for the woman, for the Lord said,
“I will make him an help meet for him.”
That is what we see the women who accompanied Jesus doing. They supported His ministry with their substance. That means they fed even the apostles of Jesus!
In Romans 16:1-4, we read an interesting account.
“1 I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: 2 That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also. 3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: 4 Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.”
Contrary to popular belief, Phebe was not a pastor. The word “servant” indicates she most likely was a deaconess at the church in Cenchrea. But Phebe was no ordinary “servant”. She was a woman of incredible energy and heart who had helped many, including Paul himself. The word “succourer” means “helper”. We do not know exactly how she helped; but she refreshed the brethren.
Verse 3 tells us the interesting case of the husband/wife couple, Priscilla and Aquila. Paul says directly they were his helpers in Christ Jesus. How did they help Paul? For one, they were willing, for the gospel’s sake, to lay down their necks on his behalf.
There are many ways that Godly men and women people can be helpers of the men that God has appointed to carry the gospel.
The interesting thing is that the women (and men)who ministered to the men of God in the early church did not feel inferior. Thus they fulfilled scripture:
““whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.” (1 Pet.3:6)
They were not fearful of their “servant” position. The women who ministered to Jesus with their substance knew Jesus had chosen only men to be apostles, yet they did not fear or feel demeaned. On the contrary, they gladly served Jesus… and His men.
They saw far in the Spirit and knew they were co-workers with Christ and the apostles. These were great women in the Spirit. They were greater than if they had tried to promote themselves by strutting across the stage calling themselves apostles, pastors, etc. Had they told Jesus, “We will not support you” (for some were rich) “unless you also acknowledge us in ministry”, they would have lost out in the Spirit.
Oh, how I love these women: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, “and many more”. I would never tire mentioning those names.
In the same spirit, this post would amount to nothing if I did not pay tribute to the many modern-day women (and men) who support genuine servants of God with their substance, and in many other different ways. My own ministry, and this blog, are kept ‘alive’ by the financial, material and moral support of Godly women (and some men; but mostly it is the women) including my dear wife, Flo.
This laptop which I have been using to write this blog for the last what, 5 years? – it was given me by my mother, Carol Lanthier. She brought it all the way from Toronto, Canada to Mwanza, Tanzania, where she lovingly handed it to me.
My heart melts within me when I think of these wonderful people. I thank them from the bottom of my heart. I fall down and worship God on their behalf. They never ask anything in return. By serving me they know they are serving God. I pray an overflow of God’s blessings upon their lives.
I want to end by thanking everyone. I thank my fellow bloggers and all who read this blog. I thank EVERYONE. Thank you all. I love you all. But, above all, once again, I salute in the Spirit all who support Godly men in ministry. May the Lord bless you all mightily.
[And now, enjoy this beautiful song. And thank God. Make sure to put on stereo!]
I think you bring forward an idea that is often neglected – the helpers, encouragers, supporters through whom God blesses those who are more visible in their ministry. I have been both and, as you note, one is not better than the other, for we “are one body” and all the parts fitted together share in the work of Christ in The Spirit.