In reality we know more about the sinful past of the women who followed Jesus, than we do of the select twelve disciples. It’s true. Outside of Matthew, we know little of the past of the disciples. We get hints perhaps by their names, James and John “Sons of thunder” or Simon “the Zealot”, but in reality we are told little of their past in the Gospels.
The women mentioned in Luke’s gospel (8:1-3) are described as ones who had been “healed of evil spirits and infirmities.” True, not a definitive description, but I believe more than we receive about the twelve specifically selected by Jesus.
These woman, Mary, Joanna, Susanna and many others follow the Christ and his disciples providing for them “out of their means.” This must have been a considerable entourage and certainly one that we tend to forget about when thinking of Christ’s ministry.
Often, when we ask the question, “How many disciples were there?” You get an answer of twelve. But in reality there were dozens, perhaps hundreds or even thousands that were followers of Christ and attending to the needs of his more intimate group. Something we don’t think about very often.
These particular women were perhaps the first Women’s Missionary Aide Society. Ever present in the background, but vital to the on-going support of the ministry of Christ. We might even say these were the first “deaconesses.” For they were serving – diakonéō – Christ and his disciples, just as the seven men in Acts were chosen to serve the widows (Acts 6).
When we come to Christ – most of us will not be center stage in our service for the Lord. However, we can, as these women, give and serve to the support of those on the front line. Seeking ways to say “how can I?” is what our ministry to the cause of Christ is all about.