We are here told,
I. What Christ made the constant business of his life—it was preaching; in that work he was indefatigable, and went about doing good (Luke 8:1), afterward—en to kathexes—ordine, in the proper time or method. Christ took his work before him and went about it regularly. He observed a series or order of business, so that the end of one good work was the beginning of another. Now observe here, 1. Where he preached: He went about—diodeue—peragrabat. He was an itinerant preacher, did not confine himself to one place, but diffused the beams of his light. Circumibat—He went his circuit, as a judge, having found his preaching perhaps most acceptable where it was new. He went about through every city, that none might plead ignorance. Hereby he set an example to his disciples; they must traverse the nations of the earth, as he did the cities of Israel. Nor did he confine himself to the cities, but went into the villages, among the plain country-people, to preach to the inhabitants of the villages, Jdg. 5:11. 2. What he preached: He showed the glad tidings of the kingdom of God, that it was now to be set up among them. Tidings of the kingdom of God are glad tidings, and those Jesus Christ came to bring; to tell the children of men that God was willing to take all those under his protection that were willing to return to their allegiance. It was glad tidings to the world that there was hope of its being reformed and reconciled. 3. Who were his attendants: The twelve were with him, not to preach if he were present, but to learn from him what and how to preach hereafter, and, if occasion were, to be sent to places where he could not go. Happy were these his servants that heard his wisdom.
II. Whence he had the necessary supports of life: He lived upon the kindness of his friends. There were certain women, who frequently attended his ministry, that ministered to him of their substance, Luke 8:2, 3. Some of them are named; but there were many others, who were zealously affected to the doctrine of Christ, and thought themselves bound in justice to encourage it, having themselves found benefit, and in charity, hoping that many others might find benefit by it too.
1. They were such, for the most part, as had been Christ’s patients, and were the monuments of his power and mercy; they had been healed by him of evil spirits and infirmities. Some of them had been troubled in mind, had been melancholy, others of them afflicted in body, and he had been to them a powerful healer. He is the physician both of body and soul, and those who have been healed by him ought to study what they shall render to him. We are bound in interest to attend him, that we may be ready to apply ourselves to him for help in case of a relapse; and we are bound in gratitude to serve him and his gospel, who hath saved us, and saved us by it.
2. One of them was Mary Magdalene, out of whom had been cast seven devils; a certain number for an uncertain. Some think that she was one that had been very wicked, and then we may suppose her to be the woman that was a sinner mentioned just before, Luke 7:37. Dr. Lightfoot, finding in some of the Talmudists’ writings that Mary Magdalene signified Mary the plaiter of hair, thinks it applicable to her, she having been noted, in the days of her iniquity and infamy, for that plaiting of hair which is opposed to modest apparel, 1 Tim. 2:9. But, though she had been an immodest woman, upon her repentance and reformation she found mercy, and became a zealous disciple of Christ. Note, The greatest of sinners must not despair of pardon; and the worse any have been before their conversion the more they should study to do for Christ after. Or, rather, she was one that had been very melancholy, and then, probably, it was Mary the sister of Lazarus, who was a woman of a sorrowful spirit, who might have been originally of Magdala, but removed to Bethany. This Mary Magdalene was attending on Christ’s cross and his sepulchre, and, if she was not Mary the sister of Lazarus, either that particular friend and favourite of Christ’s did not attend then, or the evangelists did not take notice of her, neither of which we can suppose; thus Dr. Lightfoot argues. Yet there is this to be objected against it that Mary Magdalene is reckoned among the women that followed Jesus from Galilee (Matt. 27:55, 56); whereas Mary the sister of Lazarus had her residence in Bethany.
3. Another of them was Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward. She had been his wife (so some), but was now a widow, and left in good circumstances. If she was now his wife, we have reason to think that her husband, though preferred in Herod’s court, had received the gospel, and was very willing that his wife should be both a hearer of Christ and a contributor to him.
4. There were many of them that ministered to Christ of their substance. It was an instance of the meanness of that condition to which our Saviour humbled himself that he needed it, and of his great humility and condescension that he accepted it. Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, and lived upon alms. Let none say that they scorn to be beholden to the charity of their neighbours, when Providence has brought them into straits; but let them ask and be thankful for it as a favour. Christ would rather be beholden to his known friends for a maintenance for himself and his disciples than be burdensome to strangers in the cities and villages whither he came to preach. Note, It is the duty of those who are taught in the word to communicate to them who teach them in all good things; and those who are herein liberal and cheerful honour the Lord with their substance, and bring a blessing upon it.
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