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It takes all sorts

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 Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means. Luke 8. 1-3

Tucked away in the heart of Luke's Gospel is this reference to Jesus' entourage from the earliest days of his itinerant earthly ministry. Given that it is written from within a patriarchal culture, the presence - and specific mention - of women, suggests that they enjoyed an unusually prominent status within the group. Also striking is the range of class and affluence. Mary Magdalene's background is notorious, while Joanna is introduced as belonging to an altogether different set: aristocratic, well-connected, with personal wealth at her disposal.

What is remarkable is that Luke's account debunks the myth that Jesus only appealed to the poor and down-trodden. This was clearly never the case. Aside from wealthy women, like Joanna, Jesus attracted the support of wealthy men like Joseph of Arimathea (John 19.38). Given the bracing things Jesus had to say about the dangers of possessing too much money (Mark 10.25), it is perhaps surprising that some who fitted that category were still prepared to follow him. Perhaps they were looking for an investment that went beyond material gain...

We cannot help where we come from or the status we have inherited. But we can choose the direction we follow in life and, more especially, the influences we embrace and the values we adopt. The biggest and most important decision we shall ever make lies in our response to Jesus' call to "Follow me". As the text above confirms, this invitation/ command cuts across all social, economic, cultural and ethnic divisions.



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