“The Glad Tidings of the Kingdom”
“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, And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.” (Luke 8:1-3)
“And it came to pass afterward” — After our Lord had healed the centurion’s servant at Capernaum, after he had had raised a widow’s son from the dead in Nain, after he had shown John the Baptist’s disciples who he was, after he had vindicated John in their presence and had sent them back to John and after he had in the house of Simon the Pharisee been honored by the faith of a forgiven sinner and had honored her, then we read that our Savior “went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God.”
First, the Holy Spirit directs our attention to our Master, the Lord Jesus. “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.” Here our Savior sets before us a tremendous example of diligence and faithfulness as Jehovah’s righteous Servant.
Let us never forget that our Lord’s obedience to God as a man, his obedience unto death, even the death of the cross, was not only a substitutionary obedience, but also an exemplary obedience. Not only did he redeem us with his blood, our Lord Jesus Christ showed us how we ought to live in this world as the servants and children of God (John 13:13-15; 1 Peter 2:21-25).
Our Master was tireless in his labors, unwearied in doing good and constant in redeeming the time he had in this world. Man’s unbelief did not stop him from preaching the glad tidings of the gospel. The slanders of his enemies, the reproaches heaped upon him, the scorn of the religious world and the laughter of his deriders did not in any way affect his labor. He always knew who he was, why he was here and what he was to do. He was always about his Father’s business. His earthly ministry lasted only three short years. Yet, in those three years our Lord Jesus Christ did more, preached more and ministered more to the needs of others than any man before or since has done in a lifetime.
Let us follow his example. Without question, we will miss the mark and will be constantly aware that we are missing the mark. But let us follow his example and walk in his steps. — “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked” (1 John 2:6). We ought to try to leave our little corner of the world better than we found it. We ought to make it the business of our lives to do good to men and for men. May God give me grace to lay aside my own desires, pleasures and passions, my pride, self-serving and greed, and enable to live to do good to those whose lives I touch.
Time is short; but much can be done in the short time we have. Let us arrange our affairs wisely and we will be amazed how much can be done in a short time. Few have any idea how much can be accomplished in eight, or ten, or twelve hours, if they simply stay at it and avoid idleness and frivolity. Let us “redeem the time” for Christ’s sake.
Yes, time is short; but this is the only time we have to do the work God has given us to do in this world. Yes, we will serve him perfectly in the world to come; but in that world there will be no feet to wash. There will be none who are ignorant and need instruction, — none who are hungry and need feeding, none who are sick and need visiting, — none who are mourning and need comforting, — none who are alone and need a friend, — none in spiritual darkness who need enlightening, — none who are fearful and need assurance, — none who are in distress and need relief. Whatever work we do of this kind must be done on this side of the grave. Let us awake to a sense of our responsibility. Souls are perishing and time is flying. Let us resolve, by God’s grace, to do something for God’s glory before we die.
Luke tells us that our Lord Jesus “went throughout every city and village preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God.” — There are many, many good and noble works to be done for men. We must never seek to hypocritically excuse ourselves from serving the physical needs of those around us, pretending that we have a higher service to their souls. Rather, while doing what we can to relieve men and women of physical, mental and emotional anguish, let us never forget that we do have a far higher, far more important service to perform for their souls. Like our Master, our primary business in life, our primary function as a local church and our primary purpose of existence is to preach the gospel everywhere, showing this generation “the glad tidings of the kingdom of God.”
We have done men and women no good, but positive harm, if we teach them how to live, but do not show them the way of life! We do not serve men and women for good, if we comfort them without directing them to the consolation that is in Christ. We do not minister to our neighbors if we feed them, but do not teach them to eat of the Bread of Life and drink from the Fountain of the Water of Life.
We do not have to guess what Luke meant when he told us that our Master went everywhere preaching “the glad tidings of the kingdom.” The context tells us. In the parable of the sower (vv. 5-18), in the calming of the sea (vv. 19-25), in the salvation of the Gadarene (vv. 26-40), in the healing of the woman with the issue of blood (vv. 41-49), and in the raising of Jairus’s daughter (vv. 49-56), our Lord Jesus both displayed and proclaimed the glad tidings of the kingdom.
In the parable of the sower he shows us that faith is the gift of grace, — that salvation comes by divine revelation, — that the sinner must be given a new heart by grace to receive the word of grace. In the calming of the storm our Lord shows us that he is the Sovereign God, ruling all things absolutely. — Not only is he the God who gives us grace and faith, he is the God who keeps us in grace and faith. In the healing of the Gadarene our Savior marvelously displays the experience of salvation in the life of a man unfit for human society. In the healing of the woman with the issue of blood our Lord graciously shows us the desperation and confidence, as well as the power of God given faith. And in the raising of Jairus’s daughter the Son of God shows us the glad tidings of the new birth. — It is the work of God wrought in, for, and upon a dead sinner! That is how Luke was inspired to describe our Master.
Next, Luke was inspired by the Spirit of God to tell us something about the Lord’s disciples. — “And the twelve were with him.” These men made it their business to be with him. They left all and followed him. For three and a half years, they were with him. They followed him everywhere. They attended him constantly. They watched him, listened to him and walked with him. Why? They saw him to be everything they wanted or needed. They loved him. They wanted to see him work. They wanted to learn of him. Therefore, “the twelve were with him.” — “These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb” (Revelation 14:4).
Next, Luke was inspired to tell us about some women who had experienced the power and grace of God by Christ Jesus. — “And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.”
Who were these women? They were women who had experienced the power, mercy and grace of God in Christ. The Lord had healed them of evil spirits and great infirmities. They were women, like the one mentioned at the end of chapter seven, full of gratitude and love for Christ.
Can you imagine what peculiar hardships and trials these women endured for the Master? In those days women stayed at home, kept their mouths shut, and were seen in public only with their husbands, and when their husbands said it was permissible. Women seen in the company of another man in public, let alone in private, were looked upon not with suspicion, but as being, beyond doubt, women without character. Grateful for the mercy and grace they had received and experienced, these women gladly suffered whatever was heaped upon them that they might follow their Savior. Strengthened by the power of his grace, they clave to him to the very end.
It was not a woman’s kiss that betrayed him. It was not these women who forsook him in the Garden. It was not one of these women who denied him. These women stayed with the Savior, weeping as he was led forth to be crucified. It was a few women, not men, who stood by the suffering Lamb of God unto the end. These women were the first at the tomb and the first to see the Lord of Glory on the resurrection morning.
Who were these women? Just three of them are named. The first one named is Mary Magdalene, out of whom the Lord Jesus had cast seven devils (Mark 16:9). The second is “Joana the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward.”
When I read that description of Sister Joana, I have to ask, “Why did Luke write that?” This woman’s husband was no ordinary Joe. When Luke tells us that he was “Herod’s steward,” the word “steward” does not mean “lackey.” It means that this man Chuza was the man to whom Herod the Tetrarch entrusted the care of his entire house. Chuza was a wealthy, powerful, influential man. It is true, not many mighty, not many noble, not many wealthy are called, but some are. – Not all of our Lord’s followers were poor fishermen. —— Perhaps, in God’s wise and good providence, it was for the salvation of God’s elect, our sister Joana, that John the Baptist was put into prison.
The third of these sisters in grace is a woman named Susanna. Susanna is mentioned nowhere else in the Book of God, and nowhere else in history, so far as I can tell. We know only one thing about this dear lady’s earthly life. — She walked with Christ! What a grand, noble, ennobling biography!
What did these women do? Look at the last line of verse 3. — They “ministered unto him of their substance.” How condescending, how gracious, how merciful our Savior is! He who owns the cattle on a thousand hills did not need these women to minister unto him, but he allowed them to! He who multiplied the loaves and fishes did not need to have someone feed him, but he let them! In doing so, our Lord graciously allowed those who loved him to prove the sincerity of their love (2 Corinthians 8:7-9).
These three dear ladies of grace ministered to (served) the Lord Jesus with their substance. They did not ask others for assistance. They took that which was their own, and out of that they ministered to the Savior they loved. The text might be read, “They ministered unto them of their substance,” suggesting that they used their means to provide for the company of the disciples. – They counted it a service done to Christ to take of their substance and make provision for his disciples (Romans 16:1-2).
God, grant me the grace to follow my Master’s example of tireless devotion and service to the souls of men and the glory of my God. — May God the Holy Spirit grant that I may, like the Lord’s disciples, ever be found with him. — I pray that God will graciously teach me to honor him with my substance, as these women did, and give me the will to do it for Christ’s sake ([Proverbs 3:5-10).
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