Friday, July 19, 2019
Have you ever earned an award? Have you ever done something that brought you special recognition and honor in front of your peers and the public? What kinds of plaques and trophies do you have in those special places of your home or office that commemorate your accomplishments? I still have trophies in my office because every once in a while, it’s nice to look back at something that identifies me as a winner in the eyes of other people.
In addition to awards that are earned for athletics or accomplishments, we tend to give special recognition to people who have done something highly unusual or who have taken a great risk for the betterment of another person. We give out medals to people for entering burning buildings to save puppies. We build statues and place them in town squares to commemorate the life of a hero. We immortalize names because of the incredible influence they had on our belief system or society, like Rosa Parks. But does it really take that much courage and risk to become that famous? Not in the eyes of God.
Luke 8:1-3 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 Cuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.
As the good news of the kingdom continued to spread, its effect on people was significant. The power of God was displayed in the forgiveness of sins, the freedom from spiritual bondage, and the healing of physical disease. Those who had been touched by Life were moved to deep intimacy with Jesus.
In today’s story, three women in particular are singled out for special recognition. What is it that made them worthy of this honor, when we are told that there were many who followed Jesus? Why were Mary, Joanna, and Susanna made famous? What had they done that caused the Holy Spirit to immortalize them to all mankind for all time?
The answer to those questions is astoundingly simple: they gave money to Jesus. Their lives had been so deeply touched with Life that their hearts overflowed with both gratitude and generosity. Out of their own pockets, using whatever means they had available, they personally supported the ongoing work of spreading the good news that Jesus and the disciples were doing. Their gifts made it possible for Jesus and the disciples to have their physical needs met so that they could focus on meeting the spiritual needs of others.
There is no greater accomplishment for any of us than to be a partner with Jesus in the spreading of the Good News, and that partnership is unique to each one of us. While we are all called to share the Good News when we have the opportunity, we can all partner with Jesus in a variety of other ways so that the greatest number of people possible hear the Good News.
These women chose to give their financial resources to the King.
If you want fame from the world, do something physically daring. If you want fame from God, do something financially daring: support the outreach efforts of your church and its missionaries. You may not be able to go to Timbuktu, but you can give Tim a buck to.
Be a partner in the spreading of the good news. “Give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)