“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
I always think it’s fun to wonder about the people Jesus spoke with, ate with, walked with and laughed with. And of course, the first people who come to mind are His twelve disciples. After that, you might think of Lazarus, Mary and Martha-maybe even Mary Magdalene. I think Nicodemus, the pharisee who believed, spent extra time with Jesus. But have you ever heard of Joanna?
The Bible doesn’t say much about this woman who loved and followed Jesus. We do know she was the wife of a man named Chuza, Herod the Tetrarch’s (a ruler) steward. Joanna was one of the many people Jesus healed. We also know that she traveled with Jesus, along with many other women, caring for Him and the disciples and providing for them.
If we dig a little deeper and “put ourselves in her shoes” there’s a lot we can learn from this female follower of Jesus.
Joanna’s name meant “God has been gracious”. When she was born, I’m sure her parents had no idea that one day Jesus would work a miracle in her life. But, after Jesus healed her, she must have taken great pride in her name. Indeed, God had been very gracious to her.
When the Bible says, “These women were helping to support [Jesus and the disciples] out of their own means”, most Bible scholars believe that means the women traveled ahead of the company. In each place where Jesus and his disciples stayed, the women made sure they had lodging, food and other provisions. They did these things out of their own provisions. Joanna and the other women sacrificed their time, money and energy to serve Jesus.
As the wife of Herod’s steward, Joanna had a special opportunity to witness to those of Herod’s household. After Jesus healed her, everyone must have asked questions! Knowing her love for the Lord, it’s easy to imagine that Joanna was excited to tell everyone about Him. This took great courage because the ruler, Herod, felt threatened by Jesus as His fame spread among the people. In fact, Herod had already beheaded John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin. We can learn courage from Joanna as she chose to follow and worship Jesus despite the danger.
The Bible says that the women who had come with Jesus from Galilee watched carefully to see where He was buried. Three days later, they returned to care for the body of the Lord. Joanna was one of those women. She heard the angels say, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!”
Even though her name is only mentioned in the book of Luke and even then only twice, there is much we can learn from Joanna. She reminds us that no matter how small, insignificant or unnoticed we feel, God always has a plan for us.