What Turned Into the First Church
Some time afterward he went on through towns and villages, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God.
The twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and disabilities: Mary (called Magdalene), from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Cuza (Herod’s household manager), Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their own resources.
While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from one town after another, he spoke to them in a parable:
I love it whenever they describe the crew that was traveling around with Jesus. It gives us such a glimpse into this vibrant life of the very first church!
Jesus travelled all over the place. At this point, He wasn’t doing things in secret any more. He was out in public and not telling people to keep miracles a secret. He was, however, staying within the area of Israel. He didn’t ever leave the country (unless you consider Samaria as another country).
We’ve already talked about how diverse the apostles were. Here Luke talks about the women that also travelled along with Jesus. The NET translates this word ‘disabilities’ and it is the most fitting. They weren’t just healed of sicknesses — they were healed of conditions that incapacitated them. They were completely mobilized by a miracle from Jesus.
Mary from Magdalene
Magdalene wasn’t her last name, it was the city she came from. A new controversy comes up about her about every 3 years and makes a bunch of people mad. Instead, we’re going to keep it simple here. The Bible doesn’t ever say she was a prostitute, like many stories imply. Being possessed by 7 demon’s is bad enough, though. She was there following Jesus through a lot of His ministry, and she was there at the cross when He died.
Even better, she was the first person that Jesus talked to once He rose from the grave. She was at the garden Easter morning and got to be the first one to tell Peter and John and the others about the resurrection. That’s pretty awesome.
Joanna the wife of Cuza
You know how we get excited when a famous person like Justin Bieber or Sammy Hagar (wow) becomes a Christian? Joanna is right over there by Mary. They are talking on the road, listening to Jesus, asking Him questions, and then Joanna drops the bomb of where her husband works! WHUUUUT?!
The household manager of Herod would have a lot of responsibility. This is on the level of being the Chief Operations Officer for a king! Well that’s exactly what it was. Herod may or may not have been intimate friends with Cuza. He could have been a slave in high office, but Cuza would have known a lot about Herod. He would have significant authority over everyone else in the house.
And his wife is buddies with Jesus.
We don’t know anything about Susanna. She’s mentioned in the context of women giving their money to support Jesus and the disciples though, so we can assume she was doing that. For a woman to have those kind of resources in that day, she would have to have been from a wealthy family or have a wealthy husband. Single or widowed women didn’t have many rights at that time.
What a Group
As this group went along, they were sharing with one another like we see later in Acts 2. They were supporting each other and listening to Jesus’ teaching every day. They spent time asking the Rabbi questions and may have also helped the crowds understand His teachings.
You never know what kind of people are going to join you when you follow Jesus! Let’s pray today that God would add more and more men and women to His crew.