April 12, 2014
“Soon afterward, Jesus went on through towns and villages, preaching and bringing the gospel, Good News, of the kingdom of God. And the twelve apostles were with Him. And also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had been expelled: and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager.”
Luke 8: 1 -3
“Why Did The Women Stay?”
“Let temporal things serve thy use, but the eternal be the object of thy desire.”
Thomas à Kempis
What “things” in my life do I treasure the most?
Have any of my possessions ever held me back from following God’s call in my life?
“To pretend to satisfy one’s desires by possession is like using straw to put out a fire.”
“It is easier to renounce worldly possessions than it is to renounce the love of them.”
Here name was Joanna. When we first meet her in Luke 8: 3, we find there was really one reason she came to Jesus – it was out of desperation. As the Scripture notes, the women who followed Jesus had either been healed of disease or demons. As far as I’m concerned, either problem would put me into a state of despair.
However, once the healing hand of Jesus touched Joanna, she followed, not out of a sense of desperation but of revelation. Truth overcame any personal hindrances that may have impeded Joanna’s spiritual growth.
However, for this society woman – she likely faced once of the biggest roadblocks recorded in the Bible because she was married to Chuza, Herod’s household manager – a position history confirms came with both power and money. Yet, Joanna still followed. Never wavering, even through the crisis of Jesus’ arrest, trial and crucifixion.
The defining crossroad in Joanna’s life – staying in her society world or following Jesus – intersects with an incident in Jesus’ life recorded in Matthew 19: 16. In this case, a man came to Jesus saying, “Teacher, what excellent and perfectly and essentially good deed must I do to possess eternal life?” In this case, unlike Joanna who came to Jesus because of a desperate need, this man came to Jesus feeling he had no need. As he continued talking with Jesus, he claimed to have done every good deed imaginable. He did not kill. He did not commit adultery. He honored his parents. He loved his neighbor. As the young man told Jesus, “I have observed all these things from my youth” (Matthew 19: 20). Then he asked Jesus, “What still do I lack?” Jesus answered, “If you would have spiritual maturity, which accompanies self-sacrificing character, go and sell what you have and give to the poor and you will have riches in heaven, and come, by My disciple side with Me and follow Me” (Matthew 19: 21).
These words of Jesus are followed by one of the saddest texts in the entire Bible, “But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, grieved and in much distress for he had great possessions” (Matthew 19: 22). It was at this point in time when Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, it will be difficult for a rich man (or woman) to get into the kingdom of heaven…it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man (or woman) to go into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19: 23, 24).
A rich young man. A rich, society woman. Both had all the possessions their hearts could desire. Yet neither was satisfied. And so they came to the “One” who they hoped would fill the longing in their soul. In a moment of choice, one followed and one walked away. One chose to stay from the day she met Jesus, and one chose to leave and never return. One let go of the things they had, while the other hung on more tightly. One had an open hand, the other a tightly clinched fist.
Both Joanna and the rich young ruler found that the crossroad of their lives came down to one single decision – what will I do with what I have? A.W. Tozer expands on this thought when he said, “The blessed ones who possess the kingdom are they who have repudiated every external thing and have rooted from their hearts all sense of possessing.” Does this mean I can’t have anything at all? No, this wasn’t Jesus’ point to the rich young man or to Joanna or to you and me. What it does mean is that I give up my belief that what I hold and have is more important than trusting in Jesus
I recently read a story of a very wealthy man who owned a great deal of property. He and his wife had everything their hearts could wish for and they were in the process of acquiring even more “things” when, without warning, the wife suddenly died. Her husband, left with all their possessions reflected that in the face of death, these “things” meant nothing to him.
The lesson that comes home to my heart every time I think about Joanna is that she was a woman of wealth who lived her life with an open hand – a hand that ministered to Jesus during His entire life.
And here’s the fantastic end to Joanna’s opened-handed ministry. Those individuals, who chose to live their lives trusting Jesus when He was on earth, were the very first ones to carry His message of resurrected life to the world.
Several weeks ago, we had a terrible rain storm where we live and early in the morning when I got up, I heard a drip, drip, drip and found a terrible mess in our garage caused by a severe water leak in the roof. After getting someone with expertise in to survey the damage, my Jim said, “You know, as the workmen were pointing out all the problems, I thought of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6: 19, “Do not gather and heap up and store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust and worm consume and destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” The open hand shown by all the Joanna’s down through history, recognizes the transient nature of those things of earth, and instead chooses to follow the call of our heavenly Father for we understand that, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6: 21).
“If we have God in all things while they are ours, we shall have all things in God when they are taken away.”
“This is the day that the Lord has made.
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
We will not offer to God
Offerings that cost us nothing.
Spirit of God,
Brooding over the waters of our chaos,
Inspire us to generous living.
Wind of God,
Dancing over the desert of our reluctance,
Lead us to the oasis of unselfish giving.
Breath of God,
Inspiring communication among strangers,
Make us channels of Your peace,
That we may give in deep thankfulness,
Placing the overflowing basket
Of our gifts on the table of rejoicing.”
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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