The Dilligence of the Lord and the Devotion of Women
Everything about the Lord Jesus is precious to the heart that loves Him, but there are some statements in the Word of God with regard to Him which seem to strike you sometimes with great force and power; the opening verse of Luke chapter 8 is one of them. We are easy-going. That I think every one of us will admit. But what of our Lord’s labours on earth. “And it came to pass afterward, that He went” not into, but “throughout every city and village preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God.” That was not a day, dear friends, of express trains or even stage coaches; upon foot the blessed Lord fulfilled His ministry.
What record will there be for you and me at the and of any three and a half years you like to take of your history and my history? It is good to let our souls face a bit of truth like this. What was Jesus here for? He was here for God. What are you and I here for? That is the question. And how long are we to be here? Well, suppose only three and a half years. Now what would God’s Spirit write as to three and a half years of my history and yours? He could write of Jesus that there was not a city, a village in all that favoured but dark land of Israel that His blessed feet did not take Him into.
Oh, it gives you a blessed conception of the diligence of that lowly blessed Man of Sorrows. And what was He doing? “Preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God.” That is just the position God has put us in. Some are called to preach, and may God give zeal and power to all such and stir them up mightily to pursue their service with diligence, but the man who thinks only of preaching is a very poor one. Are we showing the glad tidings? The great want today is men and women who from the first of January to the thirty-first of December perhaps never preach at all, but who show the glad tidings. It is a remarkable expression. There is no doubt in His own person, in His very looks, in His ways and His words, in His manners the Lord Jesus communicated to those round about what God was. The glad tidings of God’s grace poured in blessed words from His lips, but His every act and way proclaimed the same grace. It might well stir up all our hearts. I never read it without feeling utterly rebuked.
And observe further. “And the twelve were with Him.” But they were apostles! Yes, but Mark 3 tells us, “And he ordained twelve, that they should be with Him” (v. 24). That was the point. The most blessed part of their call was this, “that they should be with Him.” And the preaching will be poor and powerless stuff apart from that. And that is exactly what His grace has called us for now. You say, “I am not an apostle.” No, the greater number listening to my words here are women. And that brings me to the next statement. Have not women their place to fill? Certainly. Some of the women of Galilee have a very good testimony in Scripture. This is what is said of them: “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” (vv. 2-3).
There were those who were not of the twelve whom the Lord had specially ordained to go with Him, whom His grace had met, and without being told, without being commanded, they were with Him. And the Spirit of God is very careful, not only to tell us that they were with Him, but likewise the names of some of them. Now I think there is a very great encouragement for the sisters in this. The Lord is not here today. Yet you may keep His company, for He comes and reveals Himself to those who love Him and keep His word (John 14). Mary Magdelene, out of whom He had cast seven devils” gets a prominent place amongst those who kept the company of Jesus (v. 9). The more we have felt the power of sin and Satan, the more we appreciate what the deliverance of Christ is, and the more true and real will be the devotedness of heart to Him. And the less the sense of sin and conviction before God and the less the sense of the state in which we were by nature, the less the heart clings to Christ. If a person passes through shallow exercise it is a great pity.
Here you have a woman who was delivered from the sevenfold power of Satan, and her heart was entranced with Jesus, her Deliverer. She was probably a titled lady, but she was under the power of Satan, like every other woman, till Christ delivers her. And then, thoroughly delivered, she followed the Lord. Here is the first announcement we get about her, that she could leave home and follow from city to city this blessed Man. And she was of those who ministered unto Him of their substance. Very likely she had more than others. But here they were, they had each got a little bit of something that they could minister to the blessed Lord. They have a very noble place those women. And the question is whether God can write about you Christian women of today what He writes about those women? Are you as thoroughly devoted to Christ as they were?
Later in the Gospels the women were at the cross. There was only one man there that I know of, John was there, and Mary of Magdala and Mary the mother of Joses were there. They were at the sepulchre at His burying, and on the morning of resurrection the women were the first to be there. Ah sisters, Christ cares far more for affection than preaching. Preaching is a very small thing. An unconverted man can preach. A man out of communion with Christ can preach. A man with a lot of head knowledge can preach. But it is only the heart that loves Jesus that will cleave to Him and follow Him for His own sake, will cleave to Him and follow Him when He is despised and rejected of men.
These were what I may call His bodyguard. It is a wonderful thing to be in the bodyguard. And mark, the sisters were well to the front of the Lord’s bodyguard that day. Are you well to the front, sister? You say, “Who do you mean? I do not want to be in the front.” Well, you will very soon be very much in the rear, if you understand me. Because the person who does not want to be in the front in attachment and devotion to Christ will be very soon pushed back to the rear by the devil. God keep you from that, because there is nothing more miserable under the sun than a poor backslider. And not only will you be miserable but the Lord will miss your company.
The one thing He loves is this, to have us with Him. “He chose the twelve that they might be with Him.” But the women said, “will go with Him too.” And the Spirit of God puts it to their record that they ministered to Him. “Well,” you say, “apply it.” Apply it to yourself. Is your heart set on it? Do you seek that nearness to Christ that must result in ministering to Him? We may do it in principle. We may have our hearts set with purpose to cleave to the Lord, and to be here for Him, here for His will, here to do His pleasure. We have the privilege of living on the earth for the Son of God, Who gave up all for us, and we have the privilege of pleasing Him. It will cost us something—but who can tell the compensation?