Joanna, Wife of Chuza

The canonical gospel accounts are not explicit about the miracle wrought by Jesus upon Joanna, wife of Chuza. She is mentioned as being among some women who had been traveling with Jesus and the twelve disciples. Presumably, some of the women had been healed by Jesus of “evil spirits and infirmities,” since the passage in Luke states that among them was, “…Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance” (8:2–3).

The canonical gospel of Mark, widely considered the earliest of the gospels to have been written, contains the story of Jairus's daughter with traces of Aramaic, the language used by Jesus. That finding supports the story's existence in a very early oral tradition, long before the gospel writers wrote it for a Greek-speaking audience (as they did for most of the narratives of the New Testament).

Joanna's name means “God's gift.” Some sources suggest that it's simply a variation of Anna, a name that means “favor or grace.” She was married to Chuza, steward in the service of Herod Antipas (he was likely in charge of Herod's treasury or finances). Herod the Great, the father of Herod Antipas, tried to have Jesus killed when he was an infant. Joanna had become a disciple of Jesus. She and some of the other women may have financed his ministry “of their substance.” Most scholars agree that the phrase means financial help that might include renting rooms (perhaps the upper room used at the Last Supper) and procuring food and other items that the group might need. As the wife of Chuza, who would have received a substantial salary in his position as Herod's steward, Joanna could have afforded a luxurious lifestyle. Instead, as a believer and follower of Jesus, she chose to throw her money into the group's treasury to be used as needed for the Lord's ministry. She followed him as he traveled throughout the villages, cities, and countryside of Judea and Galilee. Chuza must also have embraced Jesus' teachings, or he would have refused to allow Joanna to use their money and her time for Jesus' work. He also didn't prevent her from traveling with Jesus.

Joanna had walked with other women believers who, according to the Gospel of Luke, discovered the empty tomb on the morning after the resurrection of Jesus. The women had brought spices to anoint the body of Jesus after he had been crucified. When they arrived in the garden where his tomb was located, they discovered the large stone covering the mouth of the tomb had been rolled away. Two men stood by in shining garments, and asked the women why they were searching for the living among the dead. They reminded the women to remember the words Jesus spoke about being delivered into the hands of sinful men to be crucified, and how he would then arise on the third day.

And they remembered his words, And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. (Luke 24:8–10)

Joanna, as a faithful follower of Jesus, was probably among the group of followers who selected Matthias to replace Judas. When everyone gathered on Pentecost, fifty days after the resurrection of Christ, Joanna may also have been with them, and thus would have received the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Some icons in the orthodox tradition show her with a box (for spices and unguents), a traditional image found in the icons of Mary Magdalene, the best-known myrrhbearer.

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