Luke 8:1-3
“Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.”

These verses lie quietly at the beginning of chapter 8, preceding a parable about the Sower, a lesson on a lamp under a jar, Jesus calming the storm, Jesus healing the Gerasene Demoniac, the raising of Jarius’ daughter and a woman touching the power of Jesus through the hem of his robe….all powerful stories in chapter 8.

So where does this short little story in verses 1-3 fit in?

I believe this story is just as powerful. It is so subtle that many perhaps overlook the irony and importance of it.

Let’s take a closer look.

Jesus is travelling through cities and villages proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God to many people.

Along with the twelve were Mary Magdalene, Susanna and a woman named Joanna. I want to focus attention on Joanna.  As the wife of Chuza, Herod’s right hand man, Joanna was an upper class Jewish woman used to the finer things of life. Joanna probably had access to fine linens, jewelry and furnishings. She was influential, connected and wealthy. Herod’s top officials were well taken care of.

Herod’s palace was in Galilee, so it’s easy to assume that Joanna became aware of Jesus and later met him because of the close proximity. Scripture says Jesus healed Joanna of an “evil spirit”, which in the 1st century could have been a number of ailments. Just the same, she witnessed his power, leaving her cushy life, to follow him. It was brave of her to follow Jesus while living under Herod’s thumb.

Scripture says these women “provided for them out of their resources.”

Let that sink in a minute. These women paid for Jesus and his disciples’ meals and lodging as they travelled from place to place.

Joanna helped fund Jesus’ ministry. The money her husband received from Herod was now funding Jesus’ ministry! Herod, who is trying to stop Jesus’ ministry is inadvertently funding it. Wow! God has a sense of humor!

God used the resources and cleverness of women to fund Jesus’ work in the world. Without these women, Jesus would not have been able to move about and reach as many people as he did.

God has always used women in his work in the world. This is Joanna’s story, what is yours? How is God using you with the gifts he’s given you? We celebrate those gifts and give God thanks.

I am thankful for the dedication of Joanna and all the women who came after her. I have had wonderful mentors in my ministry and am grateful for their influence and example. Together, we are the body of Christ. Praise be to God!

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