"He continued according to plan, travelling to town after town, village after village, preaching God's kingdom, spreading the Message. The Twelve were with Him. There were also some women in their company who had been healed of various afflictions and illnesses: Mary, the one called Magdalene, from whom seven devils had gone out; Joanna, wife of Chuza, Herod's manager; and Susanna -- along with many others who used their considerable means to provide for the company." Luke 8:1-3 (The Message).
Luke gives us an interesting little interlude that is not included in the other gospels -- some titbits of information about Jesus' travelling companions, a group of women who accompanied Him and His disciples.
This must have been quite unusual. Jewish women were normally in the background and would certainly not have travelled around the country with a roving rabbi.
Luke's inclusion of this bit of information about the women is in keeping with the theme of his gospel. He had a special focus on the humanity of Jesus, on His dependence on the Holy Spirit, on His prayer life and on the way He treated people, and especially women.
Unlike Roman society -- and Theophilus, the recipient of Luke's story, was a Roman -- where women enjoyed elevated positions, women were nothing in Jewish society. Luke takes time to point out to Theophilus that Jesus had a different attitude to women from other Jewish men. He treated them with dignity and respect as equal to men rather than as subordinates or possessions.
These women who followed Jesus all had very personal reasons for loving Him. Mary Magdalene, for example, had been demon possessed until Jesus rescued her, probably from a life of prostitution, and gave her back her dignity. From that moment on she became a loyal disciple, following Him and ministering to Him and His disciples wherever they went.
She was there at the cross, unashamedly to let him know that she cared, even though she could do nothing for Him at that moment. She was at the tomb in the pre-dawn darkness to anoint His body. She was the first one to see Him alive and to tell the glad news to His disciples.
Why did Jesus choose Mary to be the first person to whom He revealed Himself? Was it to show His disciples and the world that women should be given the honour due to them as the crown of His creation?
There has been much speculation and even stories written about the relationship between Jesus and Mary. Was there a romantic connection which the Bible carefully kept hidden? I believe it is safe to say that we can trust the Bible to reveal the truth about something as important as this.
Right from Genesis, the writers of the books of the Bible, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, were brutally honest about their characters. Nothing was put under wraps, not even the lapses into sin of its most revered characters, Moses and David. The gospel writers would certainly not have ignored or neglected to write about any romantic connection Mary Magdalene had with Jesus.
They loved Him and served Him out of gratitude for who He was and for His gracious treatment of them as people of worth who deserved the dignity and respect given to them by their Creator.
That's who Jesus is. No matter who you are, you can be sure that the Master sees you as He saw those women, beautiful, treasured and worthy of honour because He created you in His image to worship Him and to be one with Him.
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