JOANNA, WIFE OF CHUZA (Fr. Varghese Paul, S.J.)

The Hebrew name Joanna means “the Lord has shown favours” or “the Lord is grace.” Joanna is one of the few distinguished women of the New Testament who followed Jesus from the beginning of his public ministry till his death and resurrection.

Only the evangelist Luke mentions Joanna by name in his Gospel. Luke writes, “The twelve disciples went with him, and so did some women who had been healed of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (who was called Magdalene), from whom seven demons had been driven out; Joanna, whose husband Chuza was an officer in Herod’s court; and Susannna, and many other women who used their own resources to help Jesus and his disciples” (Lk 8, 1-3).

Joanna is introduced here as the wife of Chuza who is an officer in Herod the Tetrarch’s court. So we can guess that Joanna is a person of some means and of high social standing. She is among the women “who had been healed of evil spirits and diseases.”

Joanna owes much to Jesus for healing her either from evil spirit or from some decease. Admiring Jesus’ kindness to her, Joanna becomes a dedicated disciple of Jesus and joins the other women disciples who go ahead of Jesus preparing the places and people for the visits of Jesus and his twelve or more disciples.

Chuza, the husband of Joanna occupies a high place in Herod’s court as a steward. He must have been an intelligent and efficient person to occupy such high place in the service of Herod. Both Joanna and Chuza must have been very close to Herod. Joanna must have learned about what was Herod’s opinion about Jesus and she must have shared her experiences of Jesus in ministering to him with Herod and other fellow servants in the palace of Herod.

When Herod heard about Jesus, according to evangelist Mathew, he told his officials “He is really John the Baptist, who has come back to Life” (Mt. 14, 2). These words of Herod must have certainly reached Joanna and she must have told Herod directly or indirectly who Jesus was to her. So Herod was eager to meet Jesus.

Joanna not only served Jesus by preparing for hospitable reception to Jesus and his disciples wherever they went but she also generously used her wealth in the service of Jesus.

The bible scholar Herbert Lockyer in his book, “All the Women of the Bible” says “Knowing that He and the disciples accompanying Him had very little to support them, Joanna, out of her plenty, gave liberally to their need and thus exemplified the grace of giving” (p. 78).

At the crucifixion of Jesus Joanna must have been there as Luke tells us that, “ All those who knew Jesus personally, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance to watch” (Lk 23, 49). Joanna and other women disciples did not run away as some disciples did at the death of Jews. Again Luke tells us, “The women who had followed Jesus from Galilee went with Joseph and saw the tomb and how Jesus’ body was placed in it. Then they went back home and prepared the spices and perfumes for the body” (Lk 23, 55-56).

These women disciples including Joanna were amply rewarded their following of Jesus as they were able to bear witness to Jesus resurrection. On the third day, that is, Sunday these women disciples rushed to the tomb of Jesus carrying spices, which they had specially prepared. Luke tells us that they did not find the body of Jesus where he was buried. But two angels told them that, “He is not here; he has been raised” (Lk 24, 6).

“Then the women remembered his words, returned from the tomb, and told all these things to the eleven disciples and all the rest” (Lk 24, 8-9).

Luke specifically mentions Joanna’s name among the women disciples in his account of Jesus’ resurrection. “The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James; they and the other women with them told these things to the apostles. But the apostles thought that what the women said was nonsense, and they did not believe them” (Lk 24, 10-11).

Clearly Joanna is among sorrow-stricken women at the tomb and carrys the news of Jesus’ resurrection to his disciples. Joanna is among the last to leave the foot of the Cross and among the first who witness the empty tomb and carry the message of Jesus’ resurrection to his disciples.

In life, death and resurrection of Jesus, Joanna remained steadfastly close to Jesus. (contact the author: यह ईमेल पता spambots से संरक्षित किया जा रहा है. आप जावास्क्रिप्ट यह देखने के सक्षम होना चाहिए. )

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