Who picks up the tab?
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
There are a number of surprising things about this passage from the Gospel of Luke. First, it’s notable that the group of travellers with Jesus was large and diverse: the 12 disciples, plus the women listed, and many others who are unnamed. Second, the passage offers us a glimpse of how Jesus financed his group’s ministry.
The Gospels indicate that Jesus was an invited guest on occasion, and that from time to time, he performed miracles with food. But this large group still had to eat regularly, find a place to sleep every night, and get new sandals when theirs wore out walking from place to place. Who picked up the tab?
It isn’t likely Jesus saved enough money to support the group. If he had miraculously produced money, the disciples would have told us – like when Peter found a coin in the fish’s mouth (Matthew 17:27).
There isn’t one place where Jesus asked for money for his ministry. He told the rich young man to give his money to the poor. So where did the support come from? The Gospel writer suggests an answer, pointing to a group of women who were personally devoted and financially committed.
In our day, those who faithfully budget their giving to the church – despite congregational conflict, high and low attendance, and economic downturns – remind us of these women.
It costs a lot to be a follower of Christ. Someone has to pay the bills. Someone has to walk the dusty road. Someone has to make the meals. Someone has to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen. Someone has to stay awake in the garden. Someone has to barbecue fish on the beach.
Christians, both women and men, are practical people who live out daily discipleship by providing for the needs of others. We do this because we love Jesus.
That is the bottom line.