The Substance of Your Ministry to Jesus: The Stories You’ve Lived & A Jesus Who Dared Enter

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ which was written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first twenty-five verses of the eighth chapter. “And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing 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 Magdalen, 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” (Luke 8:13).

            “And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable: A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock: and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit and hundred fold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Luke 8:4-8).

            “And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be? And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which when they have heard, go forth,a nd are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience” (Luke 8:9-15).

            “NO man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but setteth it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light. For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad. Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have” (Luke 8:16-18).

            “Then came to him his mother and his brethren, and could not come at him for the press. And it was told him by certain which said, Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee. And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it” (Luke 8:19-21).

            “Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth. But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lak; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wonderd, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! For he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him” (Luke 8:22-25).

            When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the third account of Jesus’ beginning to teach in parables, as well as the third account of one of the two storms the disciples of Jesus found themselves in while walking with and following Him. As you read the words found in the eighth chapter of this New Testament gospel narrative which was written by the beloved physician Luke you will find and encounter at the very beginning of the chapter support which Jesus received from those who had experienced healing and deliverance within their hearts and lives. In all reality it is actually quite interesting when you think about and consider the words which are found in the opening chapter of the eighth chapter of this gospel narrative, for what you will find is giving from the place of deliverance, giving from the place of healing, and giving from the place of freedom. We cannot read the words which are found in this portion of Scripture and not encounter and come face to face with the reality surrounding women who gave of themselves and gave of their substance that they might help support Jesus during His public ministry. Oh I cannot help but be absolutely gripped and captivated with the words and language found in this portion of Scripture, for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely awesome and powerful truth surrounding those who had experienced deliverance and freedom within their hearts and lives and how it would be from that place of deliverance, from that place of freedom they actually gave of themselves, gave of their substance, and supported Jesus. What’s more, is that in addition to this you will also find that these women did more than simply give of their substance to support Jesus, but they actually faithfully walked with and followed Him throughout His ministry. One of the great means of emphasis Luke places within his gospel narrative is the presence of women in the His tory of Jesus the Christ. It is absolutely impossible to read the words which are found in this gospel and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome and incredible presence of women within the story of Jesus the Christ and the ministry He was called to within and upon the earth.

            I read the words which are found in the eighth chapter of the gospel narrative written by Luke and I am brought face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding these women with whom Jesus had radically and dramatically altered and transformed their entire lives. I cannot help but read the words found in this portion of Scripture and be directly confronted with women who had received and experienced something from the person of Jesus Christ, and as a direct result of them experiencing something from the Lord Jesus Christ they were able to give of themselves and their substance to support Him. It is truly something worth thinking about and considering the words and language found in the opening verses of the eighth chapter of the gospel narrative written by Luke, for it calls and draws our attention to the wonderful and beautiful truth surrounding these women who had indeed and had in fact experienced deliverance within their lives. Oh Scripture does not reveal, nor does it recount how Jesus had interacted with these women, and the specific events which had taken place within their lives, however, we know that there were women who were healed of evil spirits and infirmities. Please do not miss the incredible importance of what is found here in this particular portion of Scripture, for it calls and draws our attention to the truly powerful truth that these women not only walked with and followed Jesus after experiencing healing and deliverance within their hearts and lives, but they also supported and ministered unto Jesus out of their substance. How truly incredible and truly powerful it is to think about and consider the words found in this portion and passage of text, for the sole source of their walking with Jesus, and the sole source and foundation of their following Jesus was because of what He had done within their lives and for them. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is.

            There is something to be said about what is found within the opening verses of this eighth chapter, for the words we find here in this portion of Scripture bring us face to face with certain women who had experienced change, transformation, deliverance and healing within their lives. Permit me a moment to pause and deviate from the words which are presented here concerning these women and ask you what Jesus has done for you within your own heart and life. As you read the words which are found here in this portion of Scripture, what has Jesus done within your life and for you? Can you honestly speak of and recall that which Jesus has done for your life and how He has brought deliverance within your heart, within your soul and within your mind? Can you truly and honestly recall that great and mighty work the living and eternal Christ has indeed and has in fact done for you in your life? What’s more, is what has the living and eternal Christ done for you? In what areas of your life has Jesus brought deliverance into those places which were once grounds for torment, oppression, bondage and affliction? In what areas of your life has Jesus brought healing into the places which you have been bound and captivated by Satan in your physical body? If there is one thing we must needs recognize when reading the words found in this portion of Scripture it’s that the women who are mentioned here were those who not only had names, women who not only had stories, women who not only had substance, but women who also had a heart that was filled with gratitude and thanksgiving for and toward Jesus for everything He had done. One of.  the greatest truths we must needs realize when reading the words found in this portion of Scripture is that these women not only had names, but they also had stories. I absolutely love that Luke chooses to write and record the names of these women, for directly linked and connected to the names of these women is their stories and their substance. THE STORIES AND SUBSTANCE OF WHO WALK WITH JESUS! THE STORIES AND SUBSTANCE OF THOSE WHO FOLLOW JESUS! THE STORIES AND SUBSTANCE OF THOSE WHO MINISTER UNTO JESUS!

            I am sitting here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this portion of Scripture and I am absolutely and entirely caught up by and captivated with the tremendous and powerful truth surrounding the names, the stories and the substance of these women. What’s more, is that as you read the words found in this portion of Scripture you will first find the stories of these women—namely, that Jesus had healed them of evil spirits and infirmities. Not only this, but immediately after learning what Jesus had done for these women we also learn the names of these women—Mary called Magdalene, Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, Susanna, and many others. What is interesting about Mary called Magdalene is that Luke actually adds an additional narrative and account concerning and regarding her own story, for Luke would write and record how out of her Jesus cast seven devils. When writing and speaking of certain women the beloved physician Luke first and foremost writes of their stories before presenting us with their names. In all reality, I can’t help but be absolutely and incredibly challenged by this, for there is something incredibly powerful about learning someone’s story before learning their name. There is something incredibly challenging and powerful about learning someone’s story and what they have been through—and not only what they have been through, but also that which the living and eternal Christ has done for and within them. We dare not, we ought not and must not underestimate the power of someone’s story, for it is in their story we learn and understand what they have been through. Each of these women had their own unique story—and not only their own unique story, but also how Jesus had entered into their lives, into their situations and into their circumstances. That which we find written and recorded in this portion of text is something which is truly awesome and powerful when you take the time to think about it, for it calls and draws our attention to the fact that when writing of these women Luke chooses to focus on their stories and what Jesus had done for them before revealing their names.

            The more I think about and consider the words which are presented before us in this portion and passage of Scripture the more I am brought face to face with the undeniable truth that there is something wonderful when you take the time to learn and understand the stories surrounding those who are before and all around you. Luke was deliberate and intentional when writing this particular chapter, for what we find in this passage of Scripture is Luke bringing us face to face with the narrative of “certain” women—and not only “certain women,” but those “certain women” which had been healed of evil spirits. I feel the great need to pause and focus on that word “healed,” for when we read the words which are presented before us here in this text we find Luke writing of certain women—and while we aren’t given the names of all those women whom Luke was aware of, we understand that these women were healed. Stop and consider how absolutely powerful and tremendous that truly is, for it calls and draws our attention to the fact that these women experienced healing in different and distinct ways. As Luke wrote the words which are found in this portion of the text we find him writing how these women had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities. If there is one thing this suggests it’s that the stories and narratives of these women might very well have been different to some degree, while some of their stories might very well have been the same. I am sure there were those women whom Jesus healed of evil and unclean spirits, while there were other women whom Jesus healed of infirmities which had afflicted them. This is something that is truly and incredibly powerful when and as you take the time to think about it, for when Luke writes of certain women in this portion of text we find and discover that these women had experienced something from the hand of Jesus as Jesus had entered into their worlds and had entered into their lives bringing healing and deliverance. What’s more, is that within this portion of text we literally find and read of Jesus entering into the worlds and lives of these women—and not only these women, but others within the towns and villages of Galilee—for in the opening verse Luke writes and records how Jesus went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God.

            I read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I absolutely love the progression that is found within it, for what we find within it is a strong and powerful picture of Jesus’ ministry within the towns and villages within the region and land of Galilee. I absolutely love that which is found in this portion of Scripture, for the very first thing we are confronted with is Jesus going throughout every city and every village preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. What we must needs recognize and understand is that a direct byproduct and outflow of this preaching was healing and deliverance within the lives of those who desperately needed it within their hearts and lives. We are introduced in this passage to Jesus going throughout every city and village, and how in those cities and villages Jesus would preach and show the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for there are essentially two different and two distinct realities surrounding this text. In the first verse we learn and discover Jesus entering into the worlds and into the lives of those individuals who were in the cities and villages in the region and land of Galilee, while in the second verse of the same passage we are brought face to face with Jesus doing more than simply preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God, for Jesus would bring healing as He entered into those towns and villages. Jesus would indeed enter into the worlds and lives of those within these cities and villages, and He was not in the slightest bit hesitant in going to where they were. Oh it is truly something worth thinking about and considering when reading the words which are found in the opening verse of this chapter how Jesus the Christ did indeed and did in fact enter into the worlds and lives of those who were present within these towns and villages, and how as he entered into their worlds He would bring the kingdom of God.

            BRINGING THE KINGDOM OF GOD INTO YOUR WORLD! BRINGING THE KINGDOM OF GOD INTO YOUR LIFE! Oh I find it absolutely and incredibly astonishing and powerful when reading the words of the opening verse of this passage of Scripture, for the words which we find here in this portion and passage of Scripture brings us face to face with the tremendous truth that not only did Jesus enter into the worlds of these individuals, but He also brought and manifested the kingdom of God. In all reality, what we find within the first three verses of this portion of Scripture is the manifestation of the kingdom of heaven, the person and presence of Jesus, the preaching and words of Jesus, and the healing that resulted from it. Jesus would enter into the cities and villages round about and within Galilee, and it would be in the midst of those cities and villages Jesus would not only bring the kingdom of heaven, but Jesus would bring healing within their lives. Oh how absolutely incredible and powerful it is to think about and consider the words found in this passage, for within it we find Jesus entering into the world of these individuals where they were and there they lived and dwelt, and as a direct result of this the kingdom of God would be manifested, and healing would be manifested. Perhaps the single greatest question we must needs ask ourselves when we think about and read these words is whether or not we are willing to enter into the worlds of others. What’s more, is that we must not only ask ourselves whether or not we are willing to enter into the worlds of others, but we must also ask ourselves whether we are willing to bring and manifest the kingdom of God among them and in their midst. Moreover, we must needs ask ourselves whether we are willing to enter into the worlds and lives of others and bring healing—and not just healing, but healing for whatever they might be experiencing. Luke makes it very clear when writing these words that not only did Jesus bring healing of evil spirits, but Jesus also brought healing of infirmities. Jesus entered into the worlds of these individuals, and Jesus went right to where they were, and as a direct result of this entrance into their worlds they would not only hear the glad tidings of the kingdom of heaven, but they would also receive and experience healing as well.

            The words which are before us in this portion of Scripture are without a doubt absolutely wonderful and powerful when you truly take the time to think about it, for it calls and draws our attention to the fact that Jesus wasn’t afraid to go to where the people were, nor was He afraid to go to where the needs were. As we read the language contained and found in this passage of Scripture we are brought to the place where we recognize that Jesus went to where the people were, and Jesus entered into the cities and villages throughout Galilee, thus entering into and going to where the people were. Perhaps one of the greatest truths surrounding the gospel narratives concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ is that He was one who was always willing to go to where the people were and was one who was always willing to go where the needs were. It’s actually quite interesting to think about and consider how Jesus would speak and declare unto Simon who would be called Peter that he would become a fisher of men, and how Jesus would lead Simon into deeper waters to experience a miraculous and supernatural catch of fish, for it would be a powerful and prophetic symbol of what Jesus would do—and not only what Jesus did, but what the disciples were to do. We must needs recognize within this passage that Luke is also careful to write and record how the twelve disciples and apostles were also with Jesus as He went about in every city and village preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. It is absolutely undeniable and unmistakable when reading the words found in this portion of Scripture that Jesus was willing to go where the people were—much like fishermen always went to where the fish were. In all reality, it’s something truly unique to think about and consider the fact that what Jesus was teaching the twelve disciples and apostles to do was to go to where the fish are.

            Perhaps one of the most interesting and astounding truths surrounding fishing is that the fish can never and will never come to or go to you. We dare not and must not misunderstand and lose sight of this incredibly powerful truth and reality, for it calls and draws our attention to the wonderful and powerful truth surrounding fishing and how fishing requires those who would be fishermen to go to where the fish are. Simon, Andrew, James and John would have been no strangers to going to where the fish were, and even in this particular gospel within an earlier chapter we find Jesus instructing Simon to  launch out into the deep waters for a draught of fish. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this, for when we think about Jesus and His public life and ministry, He was indeed the master fisherman who always and consistently went to where the fish were. Oh there were times when the fish and the sheep would come unto Him, but there were countless times when we find and read of Jesus going directly to where the fish were. There are a number of examples and narratives found within the four gospel accounts where we find and read of Jesus going unto those places where the fish were—and perhaps not only to where the fish were, but also to where the fish would congregate and where the fish would bite. It is something worth thinking about and considering when we read the opening verse of this chapter, for what we find here is not only Jesus going to where the fish were, but Jesus also showing and demonstrating unto the twelve their personal need to go to where the fish were. With this being said we must needs understand and recognize that there is this misguided perception and thought that the fish will indeed come unto us and where we are, and yet the truth of the matter is that this simply is not the case. We dare not, we cannot and must not think and feel that the fish can and will come to us, for Jesus never invited us to be fishers of men and expect the fish to come unto us. There are those among us who truly and indeed think that the fish can and will come unto them, and yet the truth of the matter is when we were called to be fishers of men we were called to go to where the fish were.

            There is a great and tremendous need within our hearts and lives to recognize that in order for us to be like Jesus, in order for us to walk like Jesus, and in order for us to follow in the paths and footsteps of Jesus we must needs be those who are willing to do as He did. I am absolutely and completely convinced that Jesus showed and demonstrated unto the twelve disciples and apostles how they needed to go to those places where the fish were and to go to those places where the fish are congregating. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for when we read the opening verses of the eighth chapter we are brought face to face with Jesus who was truly and indeed willing to go unto those places where the fish were, and those places where the fish are congregating and biting. Jesus was not afraid to move from town to town, from village to village and from city to city, for He knew that He needed to go to where the fish were. If there is one thing we must needs realize, recognize and understand it’s that we have indeed and have in fact been called to go to those places where the fish are, and not expect the fish to come unto us to where we are. There must needs be a willingness on our parts and within our hearts to go unto those places where the fish are, for we have indeed and have in fact been called to be fishers of men. We have a great need and a great responsibility within our hearts and lives to walk as Jesus walked and to follow in His footsteps, which means that we are to be those who do indeed and do in fact go to where the fish are that we might be fishers of men. Oh there is a truly remarkable and astonishing need within our hearts to be those who recognize and understand that we have indeed and have in fact been called to be those who are willing to give of themselves and truly journey unto those places to where the fish are, for it’s where the fish are that the needs are also found to be present.

            With all of this being said I find it absolutely incredible that within the first three verses of the eighth chapter of this gospel narrative written by Luke we are confronted with the  kingdom of God and its presence and manifestation in the midst of the lives and worlds of those who desperately needed to hear, witness and experience it. When we read the words found in this portion of Scripture we are indeed brought face to face with the underlying truth that Jesus went into all the cities and all the villages bringing and manifesting the kingdom of God right where they were, and as a direct result of this the story of God would collide with the stories of men and women—perhaps even with the stories men and women told themselves. I can’t help but wonder if these women whom Jesus healed of evil spirits and infirmities thought and believed there was no hope for deliverance, freedom, healing, and transformation within their lives. I can’t help but think about and consider the words which are here before us and how they present us with Jesus not only being willing to preach and show the kingdom of God, but also willing to bring healing into the lives of those who desperately needed it. I continue to be absolutely and incredibly challenged with and by the words found in this passage, for the words before us bring us face to face with the awesome truth surrounding the stories of these women in whose lives Jesus would enter into as He came preaching and showing the kingdom of God. As a direct result and manifestation of the kingdom of God being preached and showed unto and among them these women would experience dramatic healing, deliverance and transformation within their lives. It is absolutely undeniable when we read the words found in this portion of Scripture that Luke presents us with Jesus entering into the worlds of these women and entering into their own stories—perhaps stories they thought never would or could change. I can’t help but think about the fact that when Luke presents us with the words found in this passage of Scripture we encounter the unbelievable stories which were present within the hearts and lives of these women. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for it forces us to acknowledge the stories within our own hearts and lives—stories which we tell ourselves, or stories which we believe about ourselves, or stories which we have placed ourselves in.

            Within this portion of Scripture we find Luke bringing us to the place where we understand the stories of these women, for until we understand the stories of these women we cannot truly understand the substance of these women. Oh, I cannot help but think about and consider the awesome and tremendous truth that there are times when we cannot truly understand the substance that is found within the lives of others without and apart from understanding the stories of their lives—those stories which they have taught and told themselves, and those stories which they have believed concerning themselves. We would like to think that we can understand the substance of these women, and yet the truth and underlying matter is that we cannot truly understand the substance of these women without and apart from understanding the stories which was present within their lives. What’s more, is that I am absolutely and completely convinced that it is the stories of these women that was the direct foundation of the substance which they were willing to lavish upon and minister unto Jesus with. Even more than this, we find within Scripture that not only were the stories the foundation of the substance of that which these women ministered unto Jesus, but the stories of these women was also the foundation of the substance which they poured out in worship before and upon the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh I am absolutely and completely convinced that there is a great need to think about and consider the fact there are accounts within the four gospels of women who not only ministered unto Jesus out of the substance which was directly linked and connected to their stories, but there were also accounts of women who ministered unto Jesus in worship which flowed from His intervention within their stories. Consider if you will the narrative and account which is found in the previous chapter of the gospel narrative written by Luke concerning the women who entered into Simon’s house, as well as the same or similar narrative which is found in each of the other three gospels concerning a woman who was willing to pour out her extravagant worship and adoration upon Jesus based on His entrance into and transformation of the story within her life:

            “And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what  manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace” (Luke 7:36-50).

            “Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, there came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very previous ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, TO what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? For she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. Verily I say unto you, Wheresover this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her” (Matthew 26:6-13).

            “And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very previous; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head. And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her. And Jesus said, Let here alone; why trouble ye her? She hath wrought a good work on me. For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always. She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her” (Mark 14:3-9).

            “Then Jesus six days before the Passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s’ son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the por; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always” (John 12:1-8).

            Each of these passages brings us face to face with the incredibly awesome narrative and account of one woman who dared to risk being shamed, scorned, ridiculed and mocked because of her selfless and sacrificial worship before and in the presence of Jesus. Here within these passages of Scripture we are brought face to face with a woman who had her own story which Jesus had entered into and had completely transformed and radically changed. Within these portions of Scripture we are brought to the place where we see this woman who was willing to enter into the house of religion—and not only enter into the house of religion, but also enter the house of a leper with no regard for what others thought about her. This woman had her own story and her story was and would be dramatically altered, changed and transformed by the power of the living and eternal God. This woman would take that which was costly, precious and valuable, and would bring it into the house of religion and into the house of a leper that she might not only break the jar, but might also access the contents which were inside. Scripture is unclear whether or not the jar itself needed to be broken to access the contents inside, but what we know beyond a shadow of a doubt is that this woman deliberately and intentionally chose to break the alabaster box in the house of religion and in the house of a leper that she might pour out the contents which were inside. What we must needs understand concerning the narrative of this woman is that the alabaster box which she brought into the presence of Jesus was more than just an inanimate object which she herself would break, but it was also a symbol of her own heart and her own life. The alabaster jar and the alabaster box which this woman had brought into the presence of Jesus and broke was a powerful demonstration that she was willing to break the alabaster box of her heart, the alabaster box of her soul, the alabaster box of her life and pour out the contents upon the feet of and before Jesus. Oh that we would truly recognize and understand this, for it draws and calls our attention to the awesome and powerful truth surrounding this woman who had her own story in which Jesus entered, and her own story in which Jesus made an entrance and brought transformation, healing, deliverance, and freedom.

            With all of this being said we must needs understand that while there were indeed examples concerning and regarding this woman who had chosen to break the alabaster box that she might access the precious and costly ointment which was inside to pour it upon the feet of Jesus, we must also recognize that there was the narrative of Mary and Martha who invited Jesus into their home as they prepared a supper for them. Mary and Martha would open up their homes that they might minister unto Jesus the Christ, and Scripture records two distinct views of ministering unto Jesus within this narrative—the first is laboring and serving, while the other was sitting at the feet in worship and listening. Oh it is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand that there is a view that ministering unto Jesus is found in the place of laboring and serving, while there is also a view that ministering unto Jesus is found in the place of sitting at His feet in that place where we simply listen to Him speak. It is truly something worth thinking about and considering this absolutely awesome and powerful truth and narrative, for one of the other examples found in Scripture is Mary and Martha who would invite Jesus into their home that they might minister unto Him, and it was in that place where one would labor and serve while the other would sit and rest. Perhaps the question we must needs ask and understand is which is the more necessary of the two when it comes to ministering unto Jesus—laboring and serving, or sitting and resting? If you read the words which are found within these portions of Scripture you will find that Martha labored and served that she might minister unto Jesus while Mary simply sat and rested at His feet as she listened to Him speak. Mary’s actions would anger and infuriate Martha, and Martha would even speak unto the Lord and invite Him to command Mary to help her. The words Jesus would speak unto Martha would be absolutely and incredibly profound, for Jesus would not only declare unto Martha that she was careful and troubled about many things, but that one thing was needed—that which Mary chose. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in this portion and passage of Scripture concerning Mary and Martha and inviting Jesus into their home where one sister labored and served while the other sister sat and rested:

            “Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid here therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:38-42).

            It is absolutely necessary that we pay close and careful attention to the words which are found here in this passage of Scripture, for the words presented here bring us face to face with two sisters who invited Jesus into their home that they might minister unto Jesus, and yet they each had a different view and opinion of what Jesus actually desired and what would actually minister unto Him. It’s quite interesting to think about and consider the fact that Mary and Martha invited Jesus into their home that they might minister unto Him, and yet one sister labored and served while the other sister sat and rested. There is not a doubt in my mind that when we read the words found in this passage we are brought face to face with the fact that there are those who feel as though ministering unto Jesus is found in the place of laboring and serving while there are others among us who feel as though ministering unto Jesus is found in the place of sitting and resting. What makes this passage all the more intriguing when you think about and consider the words and language contained therein you will find that when Martha complained to Jesus about Mary leaving her with all the laboring, all the serving and all the work, and even asked Him to bid Mary come and help her, Jesus tenderly and compassionately declared unto her that she was careful and troubled about many things, but only one thing was needful. Pause and consider this reality and concept of this one thing that was needed, for it is this one thing that was needful we must needs pay close and careful attention to when we think about our ministering unto the Lord Jesus Christ. There are and there have been countless times within our hearts and lives when we think and feel as though our laboring and serving is what Jesus asks, desires and requires of us, and yet the truth of the matter is that what Jesus truly and ultimately requires of us is that which Mary chose—namely, sitting and resting at His feet. What’s more, is that it was about more than just Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus, for Luke also writes and records that Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and heard his word.

Oh there is something incredibly powerful when we think about and consider the awesome and powerful truth found within these verses, for they call and draw our attention to the fact that ministering unto the Lord can indeed be found in an act of worship as we brake the alabaster boxes and alabaster jars of our lives and pour out the contents upon the feet and head of Jesus. What’s more, is that our ministering unto the Lord Jesus Christ can also be found and manifested in the place where we are willing to simply sit at His feet and hear and listen to His word. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this particular truth and reality, for it calls and draws our attention to the powerful truth and reality that our ministering unto the Lord can indeed be manifested in the invitation given unto Him to enter into our homes, but it can also be manifested in our sitting at His feet and hearing and listening to His word. Moreover, ministering unto the Lord can indeed and can in fact be found in the place where we invite Jesus into our hearts and into our lives that we might entertain His presence and His word. What’s most interesting is when you think about and consider the fact that one of the greatest needs within our hearts and lives is to invite Jesus into the place where we are willing to sit at His feet and hear and listen to His word. There is a great need within our hearts and spirits to invite Jesus into that place where we recognize and understand the difference between laboring and serving thinking that is what is needed and most needful versus simply sitting at the feet of Jesus and hearing His word. One of the greatest questions we need to ask ourselves is whether or not we are willing to not only invite Jesus into our hearts, into our homes and into our lives that we might simply be willing to sit at His feet and hear His word. What’s more, is I can’t help but think about and consider when the last time was I simply sat at the feet of Jesus and heard and listened to His word. When was the last time I invited Jesus into my home and into that place where I was dwelling that I might hear and listen to His word? When was the last time you invited Jesus into the place within your heart and home and simply sat and listened to His word as it was speaking into you and over you? When was the last time you sat at the feet of Jesus and simply allowed Him to speak directly to you to provide and offer encouragement, hope, peace, rest, and that which you desperately need within your life?

The more I think about and consider this the more I can’t help but see the narrative of the alabaster jar, as well as the narrative of Mary and Martha inviting Jesus into their home as being powerful extensions of what we find in the eighth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke. Within the eighth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the physician Luke we are brought to the place where we acknowledge that these women each had their own stories of healing which Jesus brought into their hearts and lives, and it was that story of healing which was found within their hearts and lives which would serve as the foundation for them ministering unto Him out of their substance. What’s more, is the tremendous idea and thought that more often than not it is the stories of our lives that fuel the substance which we are willing to use to minister unto Jesus. It is the stories of our lives—and not only the stories of our lives, but how Jesus entered into and radically transformed the stories of our lives—that produces within us a wonderful and powerful willingness to minister unto Him out of our substance. If there is one thing we must needs realize and understand it’s that each and every one of us not only has a story, but we also have substance. Each and every one of us has our own story—a story which Jesus has not only entered, but also radically transformed and changed—as well as our substance which we use to respond to that story. It is absolutely necessary to think about and consider the tremendous truth that the substance we have within our hearts and lives, and the substance which we are willing to use to minister unto the person of Jesus is a direct manifestation and expression of the story which was found to be present within our hearts and lives—stories which Jesus entered into and radically and dramatically transformed. We must needs realize and consider the awesome and powerful truth that more often than not our substance is not only what we have been given by the living God, but also what we use to minister unto God as an expression of our stories—stories which Jesus entered into and radically transformed and changed.

As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I can’t help but be reminded of two distinctly powerful passages of Scripture in the New Testament—the first which is found in the sixteenth and final chapter of the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Roman saints, as well as the words which are found in the second epistle written unto the Corinthian saints. I am absolutely and completely convinced these passages must be carefully and thoroughly examined, for they call and draw our attention to the fact that we have not only been called to move from the place of the stories we have lived within our lives, but we have also been called to use those stories within our lives and the substance we have been given to minister unto the Lord. In all reality we must needs realize and understand that within this passage we not only have the stories which Jesus rewrote and transformed, but we also have the substance we have been given and provided. There is a great need within our hearts and lives to understand and come face to face with the fact that we have experienced Jesus entering into the stories within our hearts and lives and bringing healing, freedom and deliverance, and it is from that place of healing, deliverance, and transformation we begin to enter into that place where we minister unto Him. I absolutely love reading the words found in the opening verses of the eighth chapter, for what we find here is a truly powerful picture of stories transformed and substance freely given. What’s more, is that in both the transformation of our stories, as well as the substance we have chosen to turn and use to minister unto the Lord Jesus Christ we have experienced both as a divine and free gift of the grace and mercy of the eternal Father. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand that it is the free gift of the grace of God within our hearts and lives that He not only enters into and transforms our stories, but also providing us with the substance which we then use to turn back unto Him in joyful and affectionate ministry. The words which we find in these two passages within the epistles written by the apostle Paul bring us face to face with the awesome and powerful—not only of stories of transformation, but also accounts of substance being turned back as an offering unto the Lord Jesus Christ. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in each of these passages found within the epistles written by the apostle Paul:

I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: that ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my helpers in Christ Jesus: who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my well-beloved Epaenetus, who is the first fruits of Achaia unto Christ. Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us. Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. Greet Amplias my beloved in the Lord. Salute Urbane, our helper in Christ, and Stachys my beloved. Salute Apelles approved in Christ. Salute them which are of Aristobulus’ household. Salute Herodion my kinsman. Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord. Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persis, which laboured much in the Lord. Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine. Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren which are with them. Salute Philogogus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them. Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you” (Romans 16:1-16).

Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; how that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberarlity. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; praying us with must intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God. Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also. Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also. I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love. For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago. Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have. For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not. For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality: as it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack. But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you. For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of is own accord he went unto you. And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches; and not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind: avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us: providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men. And we have sent with them our brother, whom we have oftentimes proved diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, upon the great confidence which I have in you. Whether any do inquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellow helper concerning you: or our brethren be inquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ. Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf” (2 Corinthians 8:1-24).

For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you: For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many. Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready: lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting. Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness. But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give, not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And GO dis able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficienty in all things, may abound to every good work: (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness) being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men; and by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:1-15).

I bring this writing to a close with a powerful call and invitation to not only live in our stories, but also minister unto the Lord Jesus Christ out of the substance we have been given and provided. WE as the saints of God must needs realize and recognize that we have been called to acknowledge the stories within our lives—stories which Jesus has entered into and transformed by the power of His grace, the power of His mercy, and the power of His compassion and affection. I absolutely love the words which are found in this portion of Scripture—and not only this passage of Scripture, but also the words found in these two epistles written by the apostle Paul—for these words bring us face to face with the tremendous understanding that the stories within our lives are the foundation for the ministration of the substance which we use to minister unto the living and eternal Christ. The stories which Jesus has indeed and has in fact entered into and brought healing, deliverance, forgiveness and the kingdom of God are the stories which serve as the foundation for our response before Him as we break the alabaster boxes and jars within our lives that we might pour out the substance before and upon Him. The stories which Jesus has indeed and has in fact entered into within our lives and brought healing, deliverance, forgiveness and the kingdom of God are the stories which serve as the foundation within our hearts and lives as we invite Jesus in that we might sit at His feet and hear and listen to His word. Moreover, the stories of our lives which Jesus has entered into bringing healing, deliverance, freedom and forgiveness are those stories which serve as the catalyst and foundation in which we minister unto the Lord out of our substance—substance which we have been given and provided by the living and eternal God which has been freely given by and through an act of His grace and mercy.

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