Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Joanna - healed and heard

This week we are studying Joanna; she's a woman of wealth, of influence, and more. We saw last time that she was ill, and that Christ Jesus healed her. Now let's follow her story a little further.

Did you see in the verses the name of her hubby? Chuza was Herod's steward. That word has been translated various ways: domestic manager, guardian, steward, even tutor.  Sounds like he wore many different hats, doesn't it?  One of the commentaries said this, "....a curator, a guardian, a steward or manager of a household or lands, an overseer; one who has the care and tutelage of children, whether the father is dead (a guardian of minors) or alive." (Thayer)

Oy. Sounds like he would have been called "stressed out" by today's standards. He must have been a man of great intelligence, wit, and personality to hold that position. Maybe Joanna and Chuza were among those mentioned in Matthew:

                At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus and said
                to his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead! 
                That is why miraculous powers are at work in him! (Matthew 14:1-2)

Wowser. Can you imagine being in Joanna's sandals? She was literally in the enemy's territory. She had probably heard the conniving and scheming when Herodias wanted John the Baptist killed. She had probably averted her eyes, and then wiped tears away, as the platter with his head was brought to the wicked Herodias. How she must have mourned for her Healer, as He coped with the death of his cousin. And how she must have feared for her life, even as she spread the gospel inside the palace.

Perhaps she even trembled with fear:

               And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
               And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words
               of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.
               (I Corinthians 2:3-4)

But as a child of the King she simply had to tell others! To speak her joy abroad, as the hymn-writer has said. Many times Christians find themselves in very unlikely places where they can be a witness for Christ Jesus. Would you have thought that a prison in Rome, very likely in or near the palace of the insane Nero would have been an ideal place for Paul to spread the word? But in Philippians we read:

                Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you. 
                All the saints here greet you, especially those of Caesar's household. 
                (Philippians 4:21-22)

Joanna was in just that kind of a position. And the commentators have found a clue that may indicate her witness did pay off:

                Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and
                teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of 
                Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, 
                and Saul. (Acts 13:1)

"who had been brought up with"...... that could also be translated "a fellow nursling." My commentary said that Manaen was a foster-brother to Herod, the son of Herod's nurse. He grew up with Herod, was educated with him, and could have been a part of the household when he was grown. Maybe he was one of the people that Joanna told her story! She'd been healed, and now she was being heard . . . telling all who would listen.

Joanna also ministered to Jesus. She was definitely a part of helping others to hear His message. The KJV says that she gave of her "substance." That means material possessions: her money, perhaps some property that belonged to her, etc. She was healed, and now she had a desire to support Jesus' work. Her gifts were used to meet the needs of Jesus and His disciples. Joanna was different from Nicodemus; she didn't follow quietly, or from afar. Her heart must have overflowed with joy as she had a part in meeting the needs of the One who had done so much for her.

Joanna also was one of the women at the cross. Her heart was broken as she looked up and saw her beloved Master dying. She was unafraid, even as a wealthy and aristocratic woman, to be there at the cross. Jesus had healed her and saved her; innocent of any crime, He was dying in agony, as a common criminal.

Sometimes it seems that we are callous to the death of Christ. We have heard it so often. We take it for granted that He was crucified, and sometimes we don't give it much thought. Or perhaps it makes us feel guilty anew, to think of the nails piercing His hands and feet; to picture the spear being thrust into His side; to think of His struggling to raise His body so that He could breathe -- so that He could speak His words arranging His mother's care, and then His words of passion and victory. The suffering is difficult for us to imagine, and many times it is too painful for us.

But if we fully understand what He did for us on the cross, it helps us to live our lives for Him. It helps us to make those choices that keep us close to Him. We honor God's gift -- the most precious thing He could give.

                For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or
                gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down
                to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a 
                lamb without blemish or defect. (I Peter 1:18-19)

Jesus had healed her body and soul; so Joanna ministered to Him while He was alive. We will see tomorrow that she continued to minister to Him after His death.


Austin Towers said...

There is no doubt, we know from this and other scriptures, that women were at the heart of Jesus' ministry and he valued them highly! Lovely study, Jacque! xx

Cathy said...

What a terrifying place Herod’s court must have been to anyone who believed in and testified to Christ.

Belinda said...

It took a courageous and dedicated woman to continue to witness in the palace. Thankfully, she did and others came to know Christ because of her faithfulness. It's all too easy to shut our mouths and turn away when we feel threatened.

My great-grandmother's name was Joanna. I'm glad to know she was named after such a strong woman of the Bible!