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Who was Joanna again?

Did you know…

…that there are some very important people in this week's story that only appears two times in Luke's gospel? The women that go to the tomb, Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James, and Joanna appear in this story, but they also show up earlier in the gospel, in Luke chapter 8:

Luke 8:1-3

Soon afterwards Jesus 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.

There are several important things to note in these three short verses that are all too easily glossed over. First is the fact that these women weren't just following Jesus in his ministry, they were financially supporting Jesus in his ministry. Second is the interesting mention of Joanna's husband, Chuza, who was one of Herod's stewards.

When we read this story of the empty tomb from Luke's gospel, with Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James, Joanna, and the other women with them, we must remember the witness that these women bear to us now. These were not only Jesus' most loyal followers, but were radically countercultural in their support of him, even beyond death. In a time when the laws made it difficult for women to be wealthy outside of marriage, these women gave of their resources to support Jesus' work in the world. And in Joanna we see a woman who shows incredible courage in following Jesus, since her family would have been part of Herod's court. The very Herod who condemned Jesus and sent him back to Pilate.

In the face of terror, and violence, and mystery, it is these sparingly mentioned women who are not only the first evangelists and witnesses to the resurrection, but exemplify for us a courage that changed the world. Who are the courageous, countercultural witnesses changing the world today?

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