They left their families, communities and villages.

Walking away from the familiar into the unknown and the unforeseen.

As they responded to Jesus’ invitation, “Come. Follow me…”

Joanna chose to follow, becoming one of the devoted.

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

They “followed Jesus constantly. Travelling with him since the beginning of his public activity in the land of Galilee. A circle of women: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna and many others; they set out with him, leaving home, family, relations, their village, their everyday life, and stayed with him, listening, speaking, offering goods and services, living with him, in short and in the end followed him to the cross, where they, the only faithful witnesses, were to see him die.”[2]

Luke records that Joanna was married to Chuza, who was the steward of Herod the Tetrarch’s household and responsible for running his entire estate. This reveals that “she was married and belonged to a relatively high social class, the members of Herod’s court.” [3]

Being “associated with Chuza and Herod’s court would have placed Joanna in a category of people that were very unpopular to ordinary Jews -for she would have been allied to the ruling class who so cruelly taxed and impoverished the common people. Herod’s “steward” was basically the chief thug who made sure that the heavy taxations were paid by the populace.”[4]

So, when Joanna made the choice to  leave her husband and remove herself from the privileges of high society, she was also making the choice to align herself with the ordinary Jews who would have deeply resented  her husband.

What is unclear is whether her husband “agreed with his wife making a decision that would put his career in jeopardy? Or would Joanna, besides abandoning her position, have had to bear her husband’s hostility and loss of affection?” [5] Or, perhaps Chuza championed her decision and provided financial support?

Joanna’s decision to leave her home and husband to travel with a Rabbi and his male disciples would have been a scandalous break from convention. It defied first century cultural norms that placed women in the home, supporting her husband and caring for children.[6]

Joanna somehow had access to financial resources that she used to help support Jesus and his disciples.[7] This was another unusual circumstance because 2000 years ago women typically relied on their husbands for financial security. So, perhaps he or father had “assigned goods or delegated some degree of their management” to her.[8] She may have had financial resources because of the “Greek and Roman influence that was spreading in the Palestine of the time. In those cultures, particularly on the higher social levels, women were known to own goods. The fact that Joanna came from circles close to King Herod’s court could be significant in this respect.”[9] Or perhaps she had received the money from the practise of ketubba, where “a sum of money was promised by the husband to the wife in case of divorce.”[10]

But however she had acquired the financial resources it is evident that Joanna was one of the women who generously provided “the material needs of Jesus and the apostles from their own personal means.” [11]

She was also one of the few who bravely remained to witness Jesus’ suffering and his excruciating death on the Cross. [12]

And with the other women, she followed Joseph of Arimathea to see the tomb and to observe how Jesus’ body was laid in it.[13]

And then,

“on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices that they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them ‘Why do you look for the living amongst the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told, you, while he was still with you in Galilee: The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ Then they remembered his words. When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others.” [14]

As the women were being commissioned, they were reminded of what Jesus had taught them about the “necessity of his death and rising again on the third day.” [16]

The women remembered.

Because they had been recipients of the “special teaching reserved for the inner group of his followers.”[17]

Joanna remained faithful throughout Jesus’ ministry, through his Passion, to the Cross and the Resurrection, and afterwards.[18] For although Joanna was not mentioned by name it has been suggested that she is to be counted as one of the women who joined the disciples and Mary, the mother of the Lord, in the upper room in prayer” after Jesus’ death and resurrection. And it is also likely that she was among the “group of 120 who chose Matthias to fill the vacancy that was left by Judas, as well as being present on the day of Pentecost.”[19]

Joanna was one of the devoted, who helped to change the world.

For, “just as Mary brought the child Jesus into the world, so the women at the tomb seem to be pictured as mediators of life, bringing the first announcement of new life in the risen Jesus to others.”[20]

“Their witness is the bedrock of Christian faith.”[21] Their voices heralded Christ’s resurrection.

Their voices echo through the centuries. Testifying to the Good News that has the power to transform the world.

Helping us to remember.

[1] Luke 8:1-3.

[2] Carla Ricci. Mary Magdalene and Many Others. Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 1994, 53, 144. Mark 1:17; Matthew 4:19.

[3] Ricci, 154.

[4] Carelinks Ministries. Bible Lives. Joanna: A Character Study.; Tal Ilan. Mine and Yours are Hers; Retrieving Women’s History from Rabbinic Literature. Leiden: Brill, 1997, 144-146.

[5] Ibid, 155.

[6] Ibid, 56.

[7] Luke 8:3

[8] Ibid, 160.

[9] Ibid, 160.

[10] Carelinks Ministries. 144-146.

[11] Ibid, 27. Joseph A. Grassi. The Hidden Heroes of the Gospels. Female Counterparts of Jesus. The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1989, 86.

[12]  Luke 23:49; Mark 15:40-41; Matthew 27:55-56.

[13] Luke 23:56.

[14] Luke 24:1-11.

[15] Catherine Clark Kroeger & Mary J. Evans. The IVP Women’s Bible Commentary. InterVarsity Press, Downer Grove, Illinois, 2002, 583.

[16] Ibid, 583. Luke 24:7-10.

[17] Ricci, 160. Edith Deene. All the Women of the Bible. Castle Books, Edison, New Jersey, 1955, 274.

[18] Matthew 26:56. Mark 14:50. Luke 24:1-11.

[19] Acts 1:12-2:4. Wikipedia. Joanna, wife of Chuza. April, 2019.,_wife_of_Chuza

[20] Grassi, 107.

[21]  Carol Newsom, Sharon H. Ringe, and Jacqueline E. Lapsley. Women’s Bible Commentary. Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky, 2012, 510.