WHO WAS JOANNA?
Joanna was “the wife of Chuza, Herod’s man in charge.” Chuza may have been the steward of domestic affairs for Herod Antipas. Joanna was one of several women whom Jesus cured of their infirmities. Along with the other women, Joanna traveled with Jesus and his apostles.—Luke 8:1-3.
The Jewish rabbis taught that women should not socialize with men who were not their relatives, much less travel with them. In fact, Jewish men were to say little to women. Disregarding such traditions, Jesus allowed Joanna and the other believing women to accompany his group.
Joanna risked social disapproval by associating with Jesus and the apostles. All who set out with him had to be prepared to make adjustments in their everyday life. Regarding such followers, though, Jesus said: “My mother and my brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.” (Luke 8:19-21; 18:28-30) Are you not encouraged to know that Jesus feels so close to those who make sacrifices in order to follow him?
SHE MINISTERED FROM HER BELONGINGS
“From their belongings,” Joanna and many other women ministered to Jesus and the Twelve. (Luke 8:3) “Luke is not telling his readers that the women cooked the meals, washed the dishes, and mended the clothes,” notes one writer. “Perhaps they did . . . , but it is not what Luke says.” Apparently, the women used their money, goods, or property to provide for their companions.
Neither Jesus nor his apostles did secular work during their preaching tours. Hence, they probably did not have the means to pay for all the food and other things needed by a group of perhaps 20 people. Although they may have been received hospitably, the fact that Christ and his apostles carried a “money box” suggests that they did not always rely on hospitality. (John 12:6; 13:28, 29) Joanna and the other women may have made contributions to cover expenses.
Some object that a Jewish woman would not have financial assets. However, contemporary texts indicate that among the Jews, a woman may have acquired resources in various ways: (1) as an inheritance if her father died without sons, (2) as property given to her, (3) as money stipulated in a marriage contract as due her in case of divorce, (4) as maintenance from a deceased husband’s estate, or (5) as personal earnings.
Undoubtedly, Jesus’ followers contributed what they could. His entourage may have included wealthy women. Because Joanna was or had been the wife of Herod’s steward, some conclude that she was well-off. Someone like her may have provided the expensive seamless garment that Jesus wore. One writer points out that this was an item that “fishermen’s wives could not have supplied.”—John 19:23, 24.
The Scriptures do not specifically say that Joanna made financial contributions. However, she did what she could, and this can teach us a lesson. What we give to promote Kingdom interests—or whether we choose to give—is up to us. What matters to God is that we joyfully do what we can.—Matt. 6:33; Mark 14:8; 2 Cor. 9:7.
AT JESUS’ DEATH AND THEREAFTER
Apparently, Joanna was present at Jesus’ execution, along with other women “who used to accompany him and minister to him when he was in Galilee, and many other women who had come up together with him to Jerusalem.” (Mark 15:41) When Jesus’ body was removed from the stake for burial, “the women who had come with him from Galilee followed along and took a look at the tomb and saw how his body was laid, and they went back to prepare spices and perfumed oils.” These women—whom Luke identifies as “Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James”—returned after the sabbath and saw angels who told them of Jesus’ resurrection.—Luke 23:55–24:10.
It is possible that Joanna was among the disciples, including Jesus’ mother and brothers, who gathered together in Jerusalem at Pentecost 33 C.E. (Acts 1:12-14) Because of her court connections, Joanna may have been the source of what some consider to be Luke’s inside information about Herod Antipas, especially since Luke is the only Gospel writer who mentions her by name.—Luke 8:3; 9:7-9; 23:8-12; 24:10.
The story of Joanna provides us with some thought-provoking lessons. She served Jesus the best way she could. She must have been happy if her funds helped him, the Twelve, and other disciples to travel and preach together. Joanna ministered to Jesus and was loyal to him through trials. Christian women would do well to imitate her godly spirit.