Women have always played a unique role in the work of the Lord, especially during Christ’s earthly ministry. He seemed to have quite a different attitude towards women than most of society at that time. We never read where He commissioned women to go forth and preach as He did the apostles, and He never put women in a role of authority over men. Even so, there were many women that contributed greatly to His ministry. There are several named in the gospels that served Him in very important and practical ways as well as being firsthand witnesses to some of the most important events in history.

“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, who ministered unto Him of their substance” (Luke 8:1-3).

One of the most controversial women of Jesus’ ministry was Mary Magdalene. Her name is mentioned in every one of the gospel accounts as one of Christ’s devoted followers and most of the time her name is listed first. Many think this means she was a leader among the female disciples. Unfortunately, she has been confused with several other women in the New Testament and her reputation has suffered throughout the years. What we know for sure is that she was a woman that had been possessed by seven demons. Since the number seven in Scripture usually indicates completeness this could mean that Mary had been completely controlled by the evil spirits that possessed her. Jesus cast out those demons and changed her life. As a result, she became His faithful and committed servant (Mark 16:9).

She was one of the women that watched as Jesus suffered and died upon the cross (Matthew 27:56; Mark 15:40; John 19:25). At His burial she sat against the sepulcher as the stone was rolled to seal His grave (Matthew 27:61). We can only imagine her feelings at that time. The horror of watching a loved one suffer through crucifixion and the grief at His death must have taken a tremendous toll. It seems that like the rest of the disciples she did not understand that this was not the end, but the beginning of something wonderful.

Mary also had the privilege of seeing the two angels outside Jesus’ tomb. She heard the amazing words, “He is not here, He is risen” (Matthew 28:6; Mark 16:6; John 20:12-13). Then, she witnessed the most miraculous thing of all. As she stood weeping, the Lord Jesus Himself, in His resurrected body, spoke to her. In fact, He called her by name. Her first reaction was natural, she wanted to embrace and cling to the one she loved and thought she had lost.
It is interesting that Mary Magdalene was the first person that the Savior spoke to after His resurrection (Mark 16:9). Why, out of all of His followers, did He choose to appear to her? He knew how her heart must have broken at His death. He also knew how much it bothered her to not know the whereabouts of His body. Could it also be that He chose Mary because He knew He could trust her? He must have known that she would do her best to spread the news of His resurrection.

When something exciting and unusual happens, all humans have a tendency to either add their own speculation or simply forget details when sharing the story to others. It would have been important for Mary to tell all the facts accurately of that resurrection morning. The future of many depended upon the truth of that day. She did exactly as Jesus instructed. She obediently told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and repeated all that He had spoken to her (Luke 24:10; John 20:17).

Another woman that is mentioned in the 8th chapter of Luke is Joanna. She is described as the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward. As the wife of King Herod’s steward, she was probably not just another Jewish peasant. She may have been a wealthy and prominent citizen. Being a devoted follower of Jesus quite possibly could have put her and her husband in a dangerous position, but she must have realized that her safety and her position in society was nothing compared to what the Lord had done for her. She became a part of His ministry and was one of the women that accompanied Mary Magdalene to spread the word of the resurrection of Christ (Luke 24:10).

One of the least known women that were included in this group was Susanna. She is only mentioned one time in the New Testament. Though we don’t have a lot of information about her, she must have been important in the service of the Lord to be mentioned by name.
All of these women had been “healed of evil spirits and infirmities” by Jesus. It seems that their healing was a turning point in their lives and from that point on, they “ministered unto Him of their substance.” The word “ministered” means to wait upon, be an attendant, even in menial tasks. They each gave what was needed of their substance; whether it was money, property, goods, or labor. Naturally, there would have been a need for money in Christ’s ministry, but there also would have been practical everyday jobs that needed to be done. These women actually followed Jesus in his travels, so it makes sense that they were more than willing to help out wherever and however needed (Mark 15:41).

Their ministry was probably not too glamorous. They certainly didn’t take part in it for their own fame or glory. The tasks they were to perform were likely mundane and ordinary jobs. They wouldn’t have had anyone to record and give tax receipts for money or property that they donated, either. They took part in the furtherance of the gospel of the kingdom because they believed in it with all their heart. They had come face to face with the Messiah, and He and is gospel became precious to them.

Proverbs 3:9 says, “Honor the Lord with thy substance …” That is exactly what the women of Jesus’ ministry did and they serve as a good example for believers today. We live in a different dispensation and in a completely different culture, but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He can still use us in His service for the furtherance of the gospel of His grace. Whether it is with our time, talent, money, or property, we too can be like these women and “minister unto Him of our substance.”

“And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.” (2 Corinthians 8:5)