Date: Sunday, 24 January 2021
Supporting God’s Servants
By Abraham Verghese

Passage — Luke 8:1-3

  1. Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him,
  1. and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out,
  2. and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for ( KJV – ministered unto ) them out of their means ( KJV – substance ).

In verse 3 we are reminded of a seldom-noted aspect of Jesus’ ministry: several women ( the phrase“ many others” and the relative pronoun “who” are both feminine in Greek ) helped to sup-port Jesus and the twelve disciples out of their own means. In other words, with their own money they helped to take care of food, clothing, shelter, and other incidental expenses.
Jesus had been a carpenter ( builder ), and some of the twelve disciples had been fishermen. But they left their employment when they began their traveling ministry.
In Matthew 8 : 20 Jesus is recorded as saying , “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” . He didn’t own furniture or a cozy little bunga-low. He and the twelve disciples depended on the generosity of people like Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna.

A few centuries earlier as recorded in 1 Kings 17 we read about , a widow in Zarephath who provided the prophet Elijah with an upper room in her house and food to eat each day —and the Lord supplied all her needs. In 2 Kings 4 it is recorded that a well-to-do woman in Shunem and her husband made a room for Elisha on the roof of their home, and they put a bed, table, and chair in it so he had a place to stay when he was in the area . The actions of the widow in Zarephath and the well-to-do woman in Shunem may not seem like great deeds but then would have been deeds that both Elijah and Elisha would have appreciated considering the challenges they faced.

Though Jesus’ earthly ministry was directed primarily to the “poor” ( Luke 4 : 18 ) , some of the wealthy and powerful supported and welcomed the ministry. Verse 3 is interesting as it throws light on the means of livelihood possessed by Jesus and His Apostles. They had a common purse which sufficed not only for their own needs but for those of the poor (John 13 : 29). The Apostles had absolutely forsaken their daily callings, though some of them (like Matthew and the sons of the wealthier fisherman Zebedee) may have had some small resources of their own, and here we see that these women, some of whom (as tradition says of Mary of Magdala) were rich, helped to maintain them.

In ancient Israel under Mosaic law , tithes were collected to support the Levitical priesthood.
God’s servants in our present era ( pastors , missionaries all other church workers , including those serving in various administrative , technical and other non pastoral related support services ) on full time or even part time basis need the support of Christians who provide out of their means or sub-stance – all blessings from God .

1 Chronicles 29 : 14 “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer will-ingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.”

All the good things we have are gifts from God ( James 1 : 17 ).

What can you share ( or better worded “ give back” ) to help in the service of God’s kingdom?

Prayer

Heavenly Father , we know there is nothing that we have that we obtained on our own. It’s all Yours. Help us to have open hands for You to give and take as You please. Increase our faith.
Everything belongs to You.

每日灵粮
星期日,2021年1月24日
标题:你向上帝渴求什么?
作者:亚伯拉罕·韦尔盖斯(Abraham Verghese)
翻译:巫惠如

路加福音 8:1-3
1过了不多日,耶稣周游各城各乡传道,宣讲神国的福音。和他同去的有十二个门徒,
2 还有被恶鬼所附、被疾病所累已经治好的几个妇女,内中有称为抹大拉的马利亚,曾有七个鬼从她身上赶出来,
3 又有希律的家宰苦撒的妻子约亚拿,并苏撒拿和好些别的妇女,都是用自己的财物供给耶稣和门徒。

第3节提醒我们关于耶稣的服侍中鲜为人知的一面:几个女人尽力帮助与支持耶稣和十二门徒(“几个”和希腊语中的“who”(圣经英文版:第三节)代词都是阴性的)。换句话说,她们用自己的钱帮忙解决衣食住行等杂费。

耶稣曾是木匠(建筑工人),十二门徒中有一些是渔夫。但当他们开始了游走的服侍,他们便放下了手上的工作。 在马太福音8:20,耶稣说:“狐狸有洞,天空的飞鸟有窝,人子却没有枕头的地方。” 他没有家具,也没有舒适的小平房。他和十二门徒靠的是抹大拉的马利亚,约亚拿和苏撒拿的慷慨解囊。

几个世纪前,正如我们在列王纪上十七章所读到的,撒勒法的一个寡妇为先知以利亚提供了住所,并供养他,而上帝也因此供应了她一切的需求。列王纪下第四章也记录到,书念的一位贵妇和她的丈夫在他们家的屋顶上为以利沙盖一间小屋,里面放床、桌子、椅子和灯,使他可以在那里休息。撒勒法的寡妇和书念的贵妇所做的似乎不是什么伟大的事,但如果考虑到他们当时所面临的挑战,以利亚和以利沙肯定是很感激她们的。

虽然耶稣在世上的服侍主要是针对“贫穷的人”(路4:18),一些富有和有权有势的人都八方支援。第三节挺有意思,因为它揭示了耶稣及使徒们的生存之道。他们有一个共同钱囊,不仅是为自己的需要,也为了周济穷人(约13:29)。 使徒们放弃了原本的职业,尽管其中也许有一些人有储蓄(比如马太和较富有的渔夫西庇太的儿子),我们在这里看到这些妇女帮助维持了他们的生活,像是抹大拉的马利亚那样富有的。

根据摩西律法,以色列人所给的十一奉献主要用途是供养利未人祭司。现时代上帝的仆人,不管是全职或兼职的牧师、宣教士,包括所有教会工作者,那些在行政、技术和其他与非牧养事工的支助人员们,他们都需要基督徒的支持,一切都是上帝的祝福。

列王纪上29:14 
我算什么,我的民算什么,竟能如此乐意奉献?因为万物都从你而来,我们把从你而得的献给你。

雅各书1:17
各样美善的恩赐和各样全备的赏赐都是从上头来的

你能为上帝的国分享(或更好的词汇是“回馈”)什么呢?

祈祷:天父,我们知道我们没有什么是靠自己获得的。一切都是属于你。请帮我们敞开双手,随主心意使用。求主主使我们有更多的信心。一切都属于你。