And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And certain women.—The words bring before us a feature in this period of our Lord’s ministry not elsewhere recorded, though implied in Luke 23:49. The Master and the disciples formed at this period one travelling company. When they arrived at town or village, they held what we, in the current Church-language of our time, should call a Mission, the Twelve heralding His approach, and inviting men to listen to Him as He taught in synagogue, or market-place, or open plain. Another company, consisting of devout women, mostly of the wealthier class, travelled separately, journeying, probably, in advance, arranging for the reception and the food of the Prophet and His followers. In the history of Elisha (2Kings 4:10) we have something analogous to this way of helping the preachers of repentance. It is said to have been a not uncommon practice in Judæa in our Lord’s time, for women of independent means to support a Rabbi in his work as a teacher.
Mary called Magdalene.—On the legends and conjectures connected with her name, see Notes on Luke 7:37 and Matthew 27:56. Here it may be enough to note that (1) as being of Magdala, a town near Tiberias (see Note on Matthew 15:39), she had probably heard our Lord in one of His early mission journeys; (2) that the “seven devils” or “demons” point, as in the parable of Matthew 12:45, to a specially aggravated form of possession. with paroxysms of delirious frenzy, like those of the Gadarene demoniac; (3) that her presence with the mother of our Lord and St. John at the Crucifixion (John 19:25) seems to imply some special tie either of sympathy or of earlier connection with them; (4) that she appears, from the names with which she is associated, and from the fact that she too “ministered of her substance,” to have belonged to the more wealthy section of Galilean society. Later Western legends tell of her coming with Lazarus and Martha to Marseilles, and living for thirty years a life of penitence in a cave near Arles. The Eastern form of the legend, however, makes her come to Ephesus with the Virgin and St. John, and die there.
THE MINISTRY OF WOMEN
Luke 8:2 - Luke 8:3.
The Evangelist Luke has preserved for us several incidents in our Lord’s life in which women play a prominent part. It would not, I think, be difficult to bring that fact into connection with the main characteristics of his Gospel, but at all events it is worth observing that we owe to him those details, and the fact that the service of these grateful women was permanent during the whole of our Lord’s wandering life after His leaving Galilee. An incidental reference to the fact is found in Matthew’s account of the Crucifixion, but had it not been for Luke we should not have known the names of two or three of them, nor should we have known how constantly they adhered to Him. As to the women of the little group, we know very little about them. Mary of Magdala has had a very hard fate. The Scripture record of her is very sweet and beautiful. Delivered by Christ from that mysterious demoniacal possession, she cleaves to Him, like a true woman, with all her heart. She is one of the little group whose strong love, casting out all fear, nerved them to stand by the Cross when all the men except the gentle Apostle of love, as he is called, were cowering in corners, afraid of their lives, and she was one of the same group who would fain have prolonged their ministry beyond His death, and who brought the sweet spices with them in order to anoint Him, and it was she who came to the risen Lord with the rapturous exclamation, ‘Rabboni, my Master.’ By strange misunderstanding of the Gospel story, she has been identified with the woman who was a sinner in the previous chapter in this book, and her fair fame has been blackened and her very name taken as a designation of the class to which there is no reason whatever to believe she belonged. Demoniacal possession was neither physical infirmity nor moral evil, however much it may have simulated sometimes the one or the other.
Then as to Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, old Church tradition tells us that she was the consort of the nobleman whose son Christ healed at Capernaum. It does not seem very likely that Herod’s steward would have been living in Capernaum, and the narrative before us rather seems to show that she herself was the recipient of healing from His hands. However that may be, Herod’s court was not exactly the place to look for Christian disciples, was it? But you know they of Caesar’s household surrounded with their love the Apostle whom Nero murdered, and it is by no means an uncommon experience that the servants’ hall knows and loves the Christ that the lord in the saloon does not care about.
And then as for Susanna, is it not a sweet fate to be known to all the world for ever more by one line only, which tells of her service to her Master?
So I will try to take out of these little incidents in our text some plain lessons about this matter of Christian service and ministry to Christ, with which it seems to be so full. It will apply to missionary work and all other sorts of work, and perhaps will take us down to the bottom of it all, and show us the foundation on which it should all rest.
Let me ask you for a moment to look with me first of all at the centre figure, as being an illustration of-what shall I say? may I venture to use a rough word and say the pauper Christ?-as the great Pattern and Motive for us, of the love that becomes poor. We very often cover the life of our Lord with so much imaginative reverence that we sometimes lose the hard angles of the facts of it. Now, I want you to realise it, and you may put it into as modern English as you like, for it will help the vividness of the conception, which is a simple, prosaic fact, that Jesus Christ was, in the broadest meaning of the word, a pauper; not indeed with the sodden poverty that you can see in our slums, but still in a very real sense of the word. He had not a thing that He could call His own, and when He came to the end of His life there was nothing for His executioners to gamble for except His one possession, the seamless robe. He is hungry, and there is a fig-tree by the roadside, and He comes, expecting to get His breakfast off that. He is tired, and He borrows a fishing-boat to lie down and sleep in. He is thirsty, and He asks a woman of questionable character to give Him a draught of water. He wants to preach a sermon about the bounds of ecclesiastical and civil society, and He says, ‘Bring Me a penny.’ He has to be indebted to others for the beast of burden on which He made His modest entry into Jerusalem, for the winding sheet that wrapped Him, for the spices that would embalm Him, for the grave in which He lay. He was a pauper in a deeper sense of the word than His Apostle when he said, ‘Having nothing, and yet possessing all things, as poor, and yet making many rich.’ For let us remember that the great mystery of the Gospel system-the blending together in one act and in one Person all the extremes of lowliness and of the loftiness which go deep down into the very profundities of the Gospel, is all here dramatised, as it were, and drawn into a picturesque form on the very surface; and the same blending together of poverty and absolute love, which in its loftiest form is the union in one Person of Godhead and of manhood, is here for us in this fact, that all the dark cloud of poverty, if I may so say, is shot through with strange gleams of light like sunshine caught and tangled in some cold, wet fog, so that whenever you get some definite and strange mark of Christ’s poverty, you get lying beside it some definite and strange mark of His absoluteness and His worth. For instance, take the illustration I have already referred to-He borrows a fishing-boat and lies down, weary, to sleep on the wooden pillow at the end of it; aye, but He rises and He says, ‘Peace, be still,’ and the waves fall. He borrows the upper room, and with a stranger’s wine and another man’s bread He founds the covenant and the sacrament of His new kingdom. He borrows a grave; aye, but He comes out of it, the Lord both of the dead and of the living. And so we have to say, ‘Consider the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, though He was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might become rich.’
The noblest life that was ever lived upon earth-I hope you and I think it is a great deal more than that, but we all think it is that at any rate-the noblest life that was ever lived upon earth was the life of a poor man. Remember that pure desires, holy aspirations, noble purposes, and a life peopled with all the refinement and charities that belong to the spirit, and that is ever conscious of the closest presence of God and of the innate union with Him, is possible under such conditions, and so remember that the pauper Christ is, at the least, the perfect Man.
But then what I more immediately intended was to ask you to take that central figure with this external fact of His poverty, of the depth of His true inanition, the emptying of Himself for our sakes, as being the great motive, and Oh! thank God that with all humility, we may venture to say, the great Pattern to which you and I have to conform. There is the reason why we say, ‘I love to speak His name,’ there is the true measure of the devotion of the consecration and the self-surrender which He requires. Christ gave all for us even to the uttermost circumference of external possession, and standing in the midst of those for whose sakes He became poor, He turns to them with a modest appeal when He says, ‘Minister unto Me, for I have made Myself to need your ministrations for the sake of your redemption.’ So much, then, for the first point which I would desire to urge upon you from this incident before us.
Now, in the next place, and pursuing substantially the same course of thought, let me suggest to you to look at the love-the love here that stoops to be served.
It is a familiar observation and a perfectly true one that we have no record of our Lord’s ever having used miraculous power for the supply of His own wants, and the reason for that, I suppose, is to be found not only in that principle of economy and parsimony of miraculous energy, so that the supernatural in His life was ever pared down to the narrowest possible limits, and inosculated immediately with the natural, but it is also to be found in this-let me put it into very plain words-that Christ liked to be helped and served by the people that He loved, and that Christ knew that they liked it as well as He. It delighted Him, and He was quite sure that it delighted them. You fathers and mothers know what it is when one of your little children comes, and seeing you engaged about some occupation says, ‘Let me help you.’ The little hand perhaps does not contribute much to the furtherance of your occupation. It may be rather an encumbrance than otherwise, but is not there a gladness in saying ‘Yes, here, take this and do this little thing for me’? And do not we all know how maimed and imperfect that love is which only gives, and how maimed and imperfect that love is which only receives, so that there must be an assumption of both attitudes in all true commerce of affection, and that same beautiful flashing backwards and forwards from the two poles which makes the sweetness of our earthly love find its highest example there in the heavens. There are the two mirrors facing each other, and they reverberate rays from one polished surface to another, and so Christ loves and gives, and Christ loves and takes, and His servants love and give, and His servants love and take. Sometimes we are accustomed to speak of it as the highest sign of our Lord’s true, deep conviction that He has given so much to us. It seems to me we may well pause and hesitate whether the mightiness and the wonderfulness of His love to us are shown more in that He gives everything to us, or in that He takes so much from us. It is much to say, ‘The Son of man came not to be ministered unto but to minister’; I do not know but that it is more to say that the Son of man let this record be written: ‘Certain women also which ministered to Him of their substance.’ At all events there it stands and for us. What although we have to come and say, ‘All that I bring is Thine’; what then? Does a father like less to get a gift from his boy because he gave him the shilling to buy it? And is there anything that diminishes the true sweetness of our giving to Christ, and as we may believe the true sweetness to Him of receiving it from us, because we have to herald all our offerings, all our love, aspirations, desires, trust, conformity, practical service, substantial help, with the old acknowledgment, ‘All things come of Thee, and of Thine own have we given Thee.’
Now, dear friends, all these principles which I have thus imperfectly touched upon as to the necessity of the blending of the two sides in all true commerce of love, the giving and bestowing the expression of the one affection in both hearts, all bears very directly upon the more special work of Christian men in spreading the name of Christ among those who do not know it. You get the same economy of power there that I was speaking about. The supernatural is finished when the divine life is cast into the world. ‘I am come to fling fire upon the earth,’ said He, ‘and oh, that it were already kindled!’ There is the supernatural; after that you have to deal with the thing according to the ordinary laws of human history and the ordinary conditions of man’s society. God trusts the spread of His word to His people; there will not be one moment’s duration of the barely, nakedly supernatural beyond the absolute necessity. Christ comes; after that you and I have to see to it, and then you say, ‘Collections, collections, collections, it is always collections. This society and that society and the other society, there is no end of the appeals that are made. Charity sermons-men using the highest motives of the Gospel for no purpose but to get a shilling or two out of people’s pockets. I am tired of it.’ Very well; all I have to say is, first of all, ‘Ye have not resisted unto blood’; some people have had to pay a great deal more for their Gospel than you have. And another thing, a man that had lost a great deal more for his Master than ever you or I will have to do, said, ‘Unto me who am less than the least of all saints is this grace given, that I should preach amongst the heathen the unsearchable riches of Christ.’ Ah! a generous, chivalrous spirit, a spirit touched to fine issues by the fine touch of the Lord’s love, will feel that it is no burden; or if it be a burden, it is only a burden as a golden crown heavy with jewels may be a burden on brows that are ennobled by its pressure. This grace is given, and He has crowned us with the honour that we may serve Him and do something for Him.
Dear brethren! of all the gracious words that our Master has spoken to us, I know not that there is one more gracious than when He said, ‘Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature’; and of all the tender legacies that He has left His Church, though there be included amongst these His own peace and His own Spirit, I know not that there is any more tender or a greater sign of His love towards us and His confidence in us than when departing to the far country to receive a kingdom and to return, He gave authority to His servants, and to every man his work.’
And so, in the next place, let me ask you to look for a moment at the complement to this love that stoops to serve and delights to serve-the ministry or service of our love. Let me point to two things.
It seems to me that the simple narrative we have before us goes very deep into the heart of this matter. It gives us two things-the foundation of the service and the sphere of the service.
First there is the foundation-’Certain women which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities.’ Ah, there you come to it! The consciousness of redemption is the one master touch that evokes the gratitude which aches to breathe itself in service. There is no service except it be the expression of love. That is the one great Christian principle; and the other is that there is no love that does not rest on the consciousness of redemption; and from these two-that all service and obedience are the utterance and eloquence of love, and that all love has its root in the sense of redemption-you may elaborate all the distinct characteristics and peculiarities of Christian ethics, whereby duty becomes gladness. ‘I will,’ and ‘I ought’ overlap and cover each other like two of Euclid’s triangles; and whatsoever He commands that I spring to do; and so though the burden be heavy, considered in regard to its requirements, and though the yoke do often press, considered per se, yet because the cords that fasten the yoke to our neck are the cords of love, I can say, ‘My burden is light.’ One of the old psalms puts it thus; ‘O Lord, truly I am Thy servant; Thou hast loosed my bonds; and because Thou hast loosed, therefore O hear me; speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth.’
So much then for the foundation-now for the sphere. ‘Ah,’ you say, ‘there is no parallel there, at any rate. These women served Him with personal ministration of their substance.’ Well, I think there is a parallel notwithstanding. If I had time I should like to dwell upon the side thoughts connected with that sphere of service, and remind you how very prosaic were their common domestic duties, looking after the comfort of Christ and the travel-stained Twelve who were with Him-let us put it into plain English-cooking their dinners for them, and how that became a religious act. Take the lesson out of it, you women in your households, and you men in your counting-houses and behind your counters, and you students at your dictionaries and lexicons. The commonest things done for the Master flash up into worship, or as good old George Herbert puts it-
‘A servant with this clause
Makes drudgery divine;
Who sweeps a room, as for Thy cause,
Makes that and th’ action fine.’
But then beyond that, is there any personal ministration to do? If any of you have ever been in St. Mark’s Convent at Florence, I dare say you will remember that in the Guest Chamber the saintly genius of Fra Angelico has painted, as an appropriate frontispiece, the two pilgrims on the road to Emmaus, praying the unknown man to come in and partake of their hospitality; and he has draped them in the habit of his order, and he has put Christ as the Representative of all the poor and wearied and wayworn travellers that might enter in there and receive hospitality, which is but the lesson, ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.’
And there is another thing, dear friends. Do we not minister to Him best when we do the thing that is nearest His heart and help Him most in the purpose of His life and in His death? What would you think of a would-be helper of some great reformer who said: ‘I will give you all sorts of material support; but I have not a grain of sympathy with the cause to which you have devoted your life. I think it is madness and nonsense: I will feed you and house you and make you comfortable, but I do not care one rush for the object for which you are to be housed and fed and made comfortable.’ Jesus Christ let these poor women help Him that He might live to bear the Cross; He lets you and me help Him for that for which on the Cross He died; ‘This honour have all the saints’; The foundation of our service is the consciousness of redemption; its sphere is ministering to Him in that which is nearest His heart.
And then, brethren, there is another thing that does not so immediately belong to the incident before us, but which suggests itself to me in connection with it. We have tried to show the motive and the pattern, the foundation and the sphere, of the service: let me add a last thought-the remembrance and the record of it.
How strange that is, that just as a beam of light coming into a room would enable us to see all the motes dancing up and down that lay in its path, so the beam from Christ’s life shoots athwart the society of His age, and all those little insignificant people come for a moment into the full lustre of the light. Years before and years afterward they lived, and we do not know anything about them; but for an instant they crossed the illuminated track and there they blazed. How strange Pharisees, officials, and bookmen of all sorts would have felt if anybody had said to them: ‘Do you see that handful of travel-stained Galileans there, those poor women you have just passed by the way? Well, do you know that these three women’s names will never perish as long as the world lasts?’ So we may learn the eternity of work done for Him. Ah, a great deal of it may be forgotten and unrecorded! How many deeds of faithful love and noble devotion are all compressed into those words, ‘which ministered unto Him’! It is the old story of how life shrinks, and shrinks, and shrinks in the record. How many acres of green forest ferns in the long ago time went to make up a seam of coal as thick as a sixpence? But still there is the record, compressed indeed, but existent.
And how many names may drop out and not be associated with the work which they did? Do you not think that these anonymous ‘many others which ministered’ were just as dear to Jesus Christ as Mary and Joanna and Susannah? A great many people helped Him whose deeds are related in the Gospel, but whose names are not recorded. But what does it matter about that? With many ‘others of my fellow-labourers also,’ says St. Paul; ‘whose names’-well, I have forgotten them; but that is of little consequence; they ‘are in the Lamb’s book of life.’ And so the work is eternal, and will last on in our blessed consciousness and in His remembrance who will never forget any of it, and we shall self-enfold the large results, even if the rays of dying fame may fade.
And there is one other thought on this matter of the eternity of the work on which I would just touch for an instant.
How strange it must be to these women now! If, as I suppose, you and I believe, they are living with Christ, they will look up to Him and think, ‘Ah! we remember when we used to find your food and prepare for your household comforts, and there Thou art on the throne! How strange and how great our earthly service seems to us now!’ So it will be to us all when we get up yonder. We shall have to say, ‘Lord, when saw I Thee?’ He will put a meaning into our work and a majesty into it that we know nothing about at present. So, brethren, account the name of His slaves your highest honour, and the task that love gives you your greatest joy. When we have in our poor love poorly ministered unto Him who in His great love greatly died for us, then, at the last, the wonderful word will be fulfilled: ‘Verily I say unto you, He shall gird Himself and make them to sit down to meat and will come forth and serve them.’Luke 8:2-3. And certain women — There were also some women with him; the monuments of his power and mercy, for they had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities — Some of them had been troubled in mind, and in a state of melancholy, through the influence of evil spirits, and others of them afflicted in body in different respects, and he had healed them all, and thereby had shown himself to be the physician of both soul and body. Mary, called Magdalene — Doubtless from Μαγδαλα, the place of her residence, which was a town in Galilee beyond Jordan. Matthew 15:39. She seems to have been a woman of high station and opulent fortune; being mentioned by Luke here even before Joanna, the wife of so great a man as Herod’s steward. Besides, the other evangelists, when they have occasion to speak of our Lord’s female friends, commonly assign the first place to Mary Magdalene. Susanna also seems to have been a person of some considerable rank and circumstances in life, as were probably most of the others here referred to. These pious women, deeply sensible of the obligations which they were under to Jesus, for the deliverances he had wrought out for them, and the great blessings which they had received through his heavenly doctrine and holy example, were concerned to render unto him, in some measure, according to the goodness which he had shown them; and therefore ministered to his necessities. Mark, it must be observed, agrees with Luke in the circumstance of our Lord’s being supported by the charity of his friends. For, speaking of the women who were present at Christ’s crucifixion, he says, Mark 15:41, that when Jesus was in Galilee, they followed him, and ministered unto him of their substance. The evangelists nowhere else tell us in what way our Lord and his apostles were supported.
Mary called Magdalene - So called from "Magdula," the place of her residence. It was situated on the Sea of Galilee, south of Capernaum. To this place Jesus retired after feeding the 4,000. See the notes at Matthew 15:39.
Out of whom went - By the power of Jesus.
Seven devils - The word "seven" is often used for an indefinite number, and "may" signify merely "many" devils. The expression is used to signify that she was grievously tormented, and rendered, doubtless, insane by the power of evil spirits. See the notes at Matthew 4:24. It has been commonly supposed that Mary Magdalene was a woman of abandoned character, but of this there is not the least evidence. All that we know of her is that she was formerly grievously afflicted by the presence of those evil spirits, that she was perfectly cured by Jesus, and that afterward she became one of his most faithful and humble followers. She was at his crucifixion John 19:25 and burial Mark 15:47, and she was among those who had prepared the materials to embalm him Mark 16:1, and who first went to the sepulchre after the resurrection; and what is particularly interesting in her history, she was the first to whom the risen Redeemer appeared Mark 16:9, and his conversation with her is exceeded in interest and pathos by no passage of history, sacred or profane, John 20:11-18.
Mary Magdalene—that is, probably, of Magdala (on which see Mt 15:39; see on Mr 8:10).
went—rather, "had gone."
seven devils—(Mr 16:9). It is a great wrong to this honored woman to identify her with the once profligate woman of Lu 7:37, and to call all such penitents Magdalenes. The mistake has arisen from confounding unhappy demoniacal possession with the conscious entertainment of diabolic impurity, or supposing the one to have been afflicted as a punishment for the other—for which there is not the least scriptural ground.See Poole on "Luke 8:1" Luke 7:21.
and infirmities: various diseases of body: some were dispossessed of devils, and others freed from bodily disorders; of the first sort was
Mary Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils: by the order of Christ, for he cast them out, Mark 16:9 and which shows, that this is to be understood, in a literal sense, of devils, and the dispossession of them by Christ; and not in a figurative sense, of vices, and the expulsion of them by the power of divine grace; for this same phrase is used where real dispossessions are intended: nor need it be thought strange that seven devils should be in one person, when, in this same chapter, we read of a legion in one man, and which also Christ cast out, Luke 8:30. This woman seems to be a different person from her spoken of in the latter part of the preceding chapter, seeing this looks as if it was the first time of her being taken notice of by this evangelist, and is described by a different character. She is called "Magdalene", to distinguish her from others of the same name; the reason of which See Gill on Matthew 27:56. She is said (d) to be a widow, and so not being bound to an husband, was at leisure to follow Christ.
(d) Jerom in Mark 15.40.And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Luke 8:2. Μαρία ἡ κ. Μαγδαληνή, Mary called the Magdalene, the only one of the three named who is more than a name for readers of the Gospel; since the fourth century, identified with the sinful woman of the previous chapter, the seven demons from which she is said to have been delivered being supposed to refer to her wicked life; a mistaken identification, as in the Gospels demoniacal possession is something quite distinct from immorality. Koetsveld, speaking of the place assigned in tradition and popular opinion to Mary as the patroness of converted harlots, remarks: “All the water of the sea cannot wash off this stain from Mary Magdalene,” De Gelijkenissen, p. 366. The epithet Μαγδαληνή is usually taken as meaning “of the town of Magdala”. P. de Lagarde interprets it “the hair-curler,” Haarkünstlerin (Nachrichten der Gesell. der Wissens., Göttingen, 1889, pp. 371–375).2. certain women] This most remarkable circumstance is prominently mentioned by St Luke alone, though alluded to in Matthew 27:55-56; Mark 15:41. It accords alike with the probability that some of his peculiar sources of information had been derived from women; and with the certainty that he is fond of dwelling on the graciousness and tenderness of Jesus even to a class so much despised and neglected as Eastern women. See Introd. p. 26. At an earlier period (John 4:27) the disciples had been amazed to see Jesus even talking with a woman.
Mary called Magdalene] i.e. Mary, who to distinguish her from numerous others who bore that very common name (Miriam), was known from her native place as Mary of Magdala. We have already seen that, as far as tradition is concerned, we cannot be certain that the Christian world is right in generally identifying her with ‘the sinner’ of the last chapter. Origen rejects the identification; St Ambrose, St Augustine, and St Jerome are doubtful. The identification is first confidently accepted by Gregory the Great (died A. D. 604). There is nothing however to disprove the fact. In the earlier scene her name might well have been suppressed from the spirit of loving and delicate reticence. The locality of the scene, and the stage of the ministry at which she is introduced, agree with the supposition, as well as the intense absorbing affection of one who “loved much.”
out of whom, went seven devils] St Mark (Luke 16:9) uses a similar expression. Some have thought that this excludes the possibility of the life indicated by the words “a sinner in the city.” On the contrary it agrees well with it. Early Christian writers see in the “many sins” (Luke 7:47) a reference which accords with, if it be not the same as, “seven devils,” and that this may be the meaning is quite certain from Luke 11:26. Apart from the general question as to demoniac possession in particular cases, it is quite certain that Jewish colloquial usage adopted the expression to describe many forms of disease (as for instance hydrophobia, epilepsy, &c.), and many forms of sin (as drunkenness, &c.). The Talmudists (as we have seen) have many wild stories to tell of Mary of Magdala, but they agree in describing her as a flagrant sinner rather than as a demoniac.Luke 8:2. Τεθεραπευμέναι, healed) By this the power of Jesus was being shown, as well as the pious affection of the women, in that they were following Him. [Though these women were not present at the voyage to Gadara, which is to be presently mentioned by Luke, although it in reality occurred previously, nor, as it appears, at the journey which the Lord took “in secret” (John 7:10) to the feast of tabernacles, and which is narrated by John alone; yet, from this point of time, which was (distant) by the interval of a year from the Passion, they endeavoured in every way to show their adherence to the Lord Jesus, and to minister to Him: for it was during this very attendance on Him that they accompanied Him to Jerusalem; which is the reason why Luke, ch. Luke 23:49; Luke 23:55, thinks it unnecessary to repeat their names, as he refers to this very passage, ch. Luke 8:2.—Harm., p. 315, 316.] This retinue of women were, from the utmost wretchedness [viz. their possession by evil spirits], admitted to the utmost felicity [viz. their hourly communion with Jesus], just as happened in the case of David’s veteran band. It was a matter of custom among the Jews (as Simonius remarks), that women, especially widows, should relieve doctors and Rabbis out of their private resources, and should, for that purpose, accompany them on their journeys.—[Μαρία, Mary) Somewhat fastidious men, even then, may have been inclined to turn away from her with disgust, on account of her former wretchedness: but she was held in high account with Jesus.—V. g.]Verse 2. - And certain women. It has before been noticed that St. Luke, in several places, especially notices the love and devotion of women to the Master. The present position of women is owing to the teaching of the Lord and his disciples. Fellow-heirs with men of the kingdom of heaven, it was obvious that they could no longer occupy on earth their old inferior and subordinate position. The sex, as a sex, has made a noble return to the Master. Much of the untold misery and suffering which tormented the old world has been at least alleviated in great measure by the labours of the women of Christianity. Several of these kindly grateful souls here alluded to evidently belonged to the wealthy class; some even occupied a high position in the society of that time. It was by their gifts, no doubt, that Jesus and his company were enabled to live during the thirty or more months of the public ministry. He had given up, as had also his companions, his earthly occupation, and we know that he deliberately refrained from ever using his miraculous power to supply his daily wants. The presence and loving interest of these and such like kindly generous friends answers the question - How did the Master and his disciples, poor men among poor men, live during the years of public teaching? Mary called Magdalene. The name Mary (Miriam) was a very favourite name among the Hebrew women; we meet with several in the gospel story. This one was called "Magdalene," or "of Magdala," to distinguish her from others bearing the same name. Magdala was a little town near Tiberias. There is nothing definite to connect her with the "sinner" of ch. 7. The early tradition which identified these two women was probably derived from Tal-mudic sources. There are many wild stories in these writings connected with one called Mary of Magdala, a grievous sinner. The "seven devils" probably allude to some aggravated form of demoniacal possession. Two sets of ecclesiastical legends busy themselves with the after-life of Mary of Magdala. The one represents her as coming with Lazarus and Martha to Marseilles; the other, as accompanying the Virgin and John to Ephesus.
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