Joanna was a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ mentioned in Luke 8 and Luke 24. She was the wife of Chuza, who managed the household of Herod Antipas. Joanna provided for and followed Jesus during His earthly ministry. She was present at the crucifixion of Christ, discovered His empty tomb on resurrection morning, and proclaimed the risen Savior to the disciples. Joanna exemplified courage, devotion, and service as she supported the ministry of Jesus.
- Joanna was the wife of Chuza, a steward of Herod Antipas.
- She was healed by Jesus and became His disciple.
- Joanna helped provide for Jesus’ ministry.
- She witnessed the crucifixion and resurrection.
- Joanna told the disciples Jesus had risen.
The Gospels first introduce you to Joanna, the wife of Chuza, in Luke 8:3: “Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance” (NKJV). Here she is listed among the women who traveled with and contributed to the support of Jesus and His disciples. The title “Herod’s steward” indicates that Joanna’s husband Chuza held an important position managing the household of Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee and Perea under the Roman Empire. As Chuza’s wife, Joanna would have been a woman of means and influence. Yet she chose to leave her privileged life behind to follow Jesus.
Joanna’s Healing and Discipleship
What motivated this socially prominent woman to join the band of Jesus’ followers? Luke 8:2 provides the answer: “Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance” (NKJV). Like Mary Magdalene, Joanna had been healed and delivered by Jesus from demonic possession or affliction. Out of gratitude and devotion, she responded by committing herself to His service. Joanna abandoned worldly success and comfort to humbly offer her time, talents, and resources to aid the One who had transformed her life.
Joanna’s healing likely occurred during the earlier portion of Christ’s Galilean ministry. When Jesus later traveled to Jerusalem in the final months before His death, Joanna journeyed with Him. She remained faithful even as Jesus’ conflict with the religious leaders escalated. Joanna witnessed the triumphal entry on Palm Sunday as crowds welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem. Her heart must have sunk lower each day that week as she observed Jesus in heated debates with the scribes and Pharisees. Joanna knew Jesus faced danger in coming to Jerusalem, yet she refused to abandon Him in His hour of need.
Joanna at the Cross
On Friday of Passion Week, Joanna watched in anguish as Jesus was tried and condemned to crucifixion. Luke 23:49 describes how Joanna joined the women at Golgotha to mourn Jesus’ death: “And all His acquaintances, and the women who followed Him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things” (NKJV). The author specifically identified the group of women as disciples who had accompanied Jesus from the early days of His ministry in Galilee. Enduring the traumatic spectacle of the cross demonstrated Joanna’s remarkable devotion to Christ.
Matthew 27:56 also places Joanna at the crucifixion: “Among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children” (NKJV). In the parallel passage of Mark 15:40-41, Salome is named in place of the mother of Zebedee’s children. Though Joanna herself is not directly named in the accounts of Matthew and Mark, she clearly belonged to this band of devoted female followers of Jesus. Along with Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James and Joses, Salome, and others, Joanna refused to abandon Jesus even in death.
Joanna at the Tomb
At dusk, Joseph of Arimathea buried Jesus’ body in a freshly hewn tomb. The Gospels record that Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses observed the entombment and intended to return after the Sabbath with spices for a proper burial. What plans did Joanna make that mournful Friday evening as the Sabbath approached? Though the Scripture does not say, it would be consistent with her steadfast devotion if Joanna likewise determined to honor her Lord’s body.
Luke 24:10 tells you Joanna did return to the tomb at early dawn Sunday morning: “It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles” (NKJV). This verse clearly states that Joanna joined the group of women who discovered the empty tomb and heard the angelic announcement that Jesus had risen! Imagine Joanna’s astonishment at finding the stone rolled away and the graveclothes neatly folded. Her sorrow turned to joy when the two men in dazzling apparel proclaimed the glorious news that Jesus was alive again!
Though initially perplexed by the empty tomb, Joanna obeyed when the angels instructed the women to tell the Eleven apostles that Jesus had risen. Luke 24:9-10 describes how Joanna and the others rushed back to deliver the good news: “And returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles” (NKJV).
Despite the skepticism they likely faced, these devoted women boldly proclaimed the resurrection to the remaining disciples. Imagine Joanna’s excitement as she explained to the apostles how the stone was rolled away and the tomb lay empty except for the angelic messengers. With joy and wonder she shared the Savior’s glorious triumph over death! Though the testimony of women was considered unreliable, the Lord entrusted Joanna and her companions with the high honor of bearing the first resurrection witness. The faithfulness and courage Joanna displayed after the crucifixion helped lay the foundation for the spread of the Gospel across the world.
Aside from the resurrection appearances, the New Testament contains no further information about Joanna’s life after Christ’s ascension. Extra-biblical traditions indicate she remained in the region of Jerusalem along with other disciples. One legend claims that Joanna later traveled to Rome and was martyred for her faith. While intriguing, such accounts remain unconfirmed. Nevertheless, Joanna’s legacy shines through in the sure testimony preserved in Scripture.
This brave woman left status and security behind to follow Jesus. Joanna generously funded His ministry and remained faithful even through the horrors of the crucifixion. On resurrection morning, her devotion was richly rewarded by the joyful privilege of proclaiming the risen Lord. For the rest of her life, Joanna undoubtedly continued boldly spreading the Gospel and serving the growing community of believers.
Throughout the centuries, Joanna’s story has inspired women and men alike to radical discipleship. Her courageous example challenges you to forsake earthly comforts and ambitions to pursue Christ above all. Whenever you face struggles or doubts in your spiritual journey, remember Joanna standing steadfast at the foot of the cross. Be encouraged to persevere through trials, for your faithfulness will also be rewarded. Like Joanna, you can experience the life-changing joy of truly knowing Jesus Christ. May her inspirational legacy spur you on to cherish and share the greatest treasure of all – the living and risen Savior!
In summary, Joanna was a devoted female disciple whom Jesus healed early in His earthly ministry. As the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, she was a woman of means who assisted Christ’s work. Joanna traveled with Jesus to Jerusalem and was present at the crucifixion. On resurrection morning, she discovered the empty tomb and received the angelic announcement of Christ’s victory over death. Along with the other women, Joanna shared this amazing news with the eleven disciples. Her courageous testimony helped lay the foundation for the spread of Christianity in the early church. Joanna exemplified faithful service and radical devotion to the Savior she loved. Her inspirational story in Scripture encourages all believers to wholeheartedly follow and serve the Lord Jesus Christ.