Who paid for Jesus’s ministry? Seriously. Who came up with the money to cover the living expenses of about 20 people for about 1,000 days (3 years of Jesus’ ministry)? Do the math in today’s dollars – what would it cost to feed, clothe, and house about 20 people (sometimes less but sometimes more) for a month, much less a year or even three? The answer is a lot.
So, who paid for Jesus and his followers for all that time? The answer is in Luke 8.1-3 and it is clearly spelled out with names.
Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.
Here is a list of people traveling with Jesus and why they did it. He was their teacher and their healer. While Jesus taught, these followers could demonstrate exactly what Jesus had done so that newcomers would understand this is not just a prophet—he’s the Messiah. The most interesting thing to me about this passage is the three women:
- Mary Magdalene: had seven demons which Jesus got rid of (a careful reading will show that she is never referred to as a prostitute – that is a misnomer). She is referenced 12 times in the Gospels, more than many disciples, indicating how important she was.
- Joanna: her husband’s boss was the same guy who killed John the Baptist (albeit reluctantly) and who let his soldiers torture Jesus. I want to believe that Chuza had conversations with Herod such as, “my wife is off again with that crazy rabbi from Nazareth…” I can only imagine those talks.
- Susanna: this is the only mention of her in the New Testament. There is a tradition that she was one of the women at Jesus’ entombment (see Myrrhbearers) but whoever she was, she was instantly recognizable with just her first name (like some celebrities today).
- And many others: it is well-known that the combined efforts of many outweigh the power of one or two. Hundreds of small financial gifts are strong both in the total amount given and in the influence that these adherents bring.
These three women paid for Jesus’ ministry. They gave out of appreciation for what Jesus did for them and what they knew he could do for others. They gave because they had the financial means to do so. They gave because God led them to do it. These women of influence do not get acknowledged like they should, and that is our loss. These women stood toe-to-toe with men and used their wealth and influence to sustain a cause that was (and still is) earth-shaking.
Thanks to you,
- Mary Magdalene, for using your experience with Jesus to demonstrate the power of healing and for using your money to buy whatever Jesus needed,
- Joanna, for using your husband’s influence to support and protect Jesus and for using your husband’s paycheck from Herod to pay the expenses for Jesus and his followers,
- Susanna, for using your social clout to help Jesus and for using your wealth to fund Jesus’ ministry.
Thanks also to the “many others” like you and me who give regularly and generously today to support Jesus’ ongoing ministry.