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Joanna in the Bible and 10 Lessons We Can Learn

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Joanna in the Bible

When we think about the remarkable women of New Testament times who followed Jesus and showed their love for him, some stand out more than others. Mary, Martha, Lydia, and Priscilla are a few examples that come to mind – these courageous ladies made such an incredible impact in their time!

Yet, even today, we can look back on stories from each of them as beacons of light; reminders that forgiveness is never too far away if given grace with sacrifice and strong faith.

Joanna in the Bible is often overlooked, but her story is just as inspiring! She had unique gifts and a passion for serving Jesus. Throughout her life, she worked hard to use those talents in service of His ministry.

Joanna could have easily been overlooked as someone who wouldn’t be open to the message of Jesus, just like Zacchaeus and Cornelius before her. But God’s reach is far broader than we know – His love for us is much greater!

Joanna in the Bible became a powerful example of what can happen when grace interrupts lives that seemed least likely to receive it.

This woman, tucked away in history yet significantly impacting it through devotion and service to Jesus Christ, offers a remarkable example of what sacrificial living looks like as we seek to spread the Gospel. She was truly inspiring.

image of two wealthy women in biblical times with the text Joanna in the Bible and lessons we can learn from her

The Story of Joanna in the Bible

Joanna’s story is an intriguing one – mentioned only in the Gospel of Luke; she may have been a major contributor to our understanding of Jesus and his life. Scholars believe Joanna provided valuable insight that was included throughout Luke’s writings.

Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.

Luke 8:1-3 (ESV)

and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles,Luke 24:9-10 (ESV)

Joanna is a symbol of strength and resilience, even if her story has been relegated to just two verses in the Bible.

Despite living in an era where women’s stories often went untold, Joanna persevered – being healed by Jesus (we don’t know if this was a physical or spiritual healing), being married to King Herod’s steward, believing so much that she funded Jesus’ mission trips, witnessing his death and resurrection – truly embodying faith beyond measure.

Despite her minor presence in the New Testament, Joanna made an indelible mark on Jesus’ ministry.

To better understand who she was and what shaped her life, it’s necessary to study how each of the male figures around her – King Herod, Cuza (her husband), and Jesus Christ himself – saw or reflected upon Joanna in the Bible.

During Joanna’s lifetime, King Herod Antipas ruled the Galilean territory during Jesus’ ministry between 4 B.C.- 39 A.D. However, he was not the same tyrant as his father – King Herod the Great!

The notorious King rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem to keep the Jews at bay and ordered all baby boys in Bethlehem to be killed so that Jesus wouldn’t take over his reign.

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King Herod the Great, quite ironically of Jewish descent, even though he wasn’t a practicing Jew, was chosen to sit on the throne by Caesar Augustus in an attempt to maintain peace between Rome and Judea.

Tensions were mounting as both cultures battled each other for control over this chaotic region. So the emperor saw King Herod’s unique background as his experiment to put tensions at ease.

Herod the Great was an ambitious conqueror and builder, but his legacy will forever remain stained by his tyrannical rule. After systematic oppression of those around him – even executing family members such as his son Aristobulus to quell any perceived threats to his throne.

So it is no surprise Herod’s reputation endures in infamy throughout history. But, of course, some may know King Herod Antipas best for calling forth orders that led to Jesus Christ’s crucifixion.

Herod Antipas was a far cry from his father’s brutality. Instead, he was seen as an indecisive figure who often took the poor advice of those around him – but that decision-making led to enormous consequences for Roman territories!

After divorcing his first wife and going against King Herod’s wishes by marrying her niece (also sister-in-law), retaliation followed in the form of massive military campaigns by his ex’s family, dividing the region into four quarters.

As punishment for defying his father, King Herod the Great, it resulted in Herod being granted only Galilee according to his father’s will.

Herod Antipas wasn’t exactly known for making wise building decisions – like when he built Tiberius on top of a Jewish cemetery. His father, King Herod the Great, had similarly made poor cultural choices by placing pagan statues inside Solomon’s Temple.

Antipas inherited his dad’s knack for cultural missteps while ruling over the Jews.

Herod Antipas had the unenviable task of trying to make peace between two nations but instead drove a permanent wedge in-between them.

To complicate things further, his decision to marry Herodias was seen as an insult against Mosaic law and brought down the destructive judgment of John The Baptist.

“For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”

Mark 6:18 (ESV)

Despite the fact his father would have executed John the Baptist instantly in response to this potential act of rebellion, Herod Antipas took a more tempered approach and recognized doing so could stir up even greater unrest against him.

“for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly.” 

Mark 6:20 (ESV)

King Herod had the chance to recognize and stand up for John’s teachings. But instead, he was manipulated by his conniving wife, Herodias – leaving him too weak-willed or cowardly to do what was right.

Even more despairingly, when Jesus appeared on the scene, King Herod feared it may have been a resurrected John that stood before him! And if that wasn’t enough of an indictment against this poor ruler, even Jesus took aim at Antipas’ true character calling Him ‘a fox’.

And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.

Luke 13:32 (ESV)

In 33 A.D., the malicious King Herod pushed Pontius Pilate to carry out his terrible plan and sentence Jesus Christ to death.

So what does this have to do with Joanna? 

Joanna’s husband is a powerful man in the palace. As manager of Herod Antipas’ household, Cuza has significant influence.

He controls not only the treasury but also property and assets – basically, he oversees everything financial at court. 

Cuza and Joanna in the Bible could have been of either Roman or Jewish descent; there’s no definitive proof to settle their origins.

However, King Herod sought to unify the different cultures at court, so he likely employed a Jew as one of his senior advisors in Cuza.

Joanna’s name is traditionally Jewish, but we don’t know if she practiced her faith. Her lifestyle is much different than most other Jews during this time.

Despite any debate over Roman or Hebrew heritage, one thing is sure – this woman was no ordinary peasant. Joanna enjoyed the luxuries that came with life in high society and had considerable freedom at court to share her thoughts without fear of backlash.

Joanna was no stranger to the drama between Herod and Herodias, so she must have been aware of John the Baptist’s teachings.

Moreover, she had likely heard about this revolutionary new rabbi they called Jesus. Certainly, Joanna would be curious enough to seek out Jesus herself.

After the tragic beheading of John the Baptist, Jesus granted miraculous healing to Joanna – although it’s unclear exactly what she was healed from.

However, we do know that since Jesus was not present in Herod’s court, Joanna in the Bible had to have sought out Jesus herself!

Joanna had heard of Jesus’ miraculous healing powers and was determined to find Him. But with no luck getting help from the typical pagan physicians, she took matters into her own hands- traveling discreetly until finally locating where He would be preaching next. 

Joanna in the Bible, bravely stood out amongst the crowd in hopes that Jesus could save her. Even though she knew it could mean death, Joanna chose to take a stand and put her faith unwaveringly in Him – even before He had healed her.

Despite potential repercussions from King Herod or Herodias for betraying their court, this selfless woman decided to risk everything for the chance at life. Ultimately, Joanna became one of many healed by Jesus, our Savior. 

After being miraculously cured of her illness, Joanna was so grateful that she devoted the rest of her life to Jesus. But, far from settling for a simple ‘thank you,’ Joanna poured everything – including all of her wealth and possessions – into funding His ministry as payment for the priceless gift of life.  

Joanna was determined to share the gift of healing she had been given and ensure its worth wasn’t overlooked. She likely gained King Herod’s attention since he already respected John the Baptist’s teachings – so when Joanna could back them up with direct evidence, it would have made an impact!

To add even more intrigue to this story, Manaen – who happened to be King Herod’s lifelong friend – also followed in Jesus’ footsteps as part of a broader teaching movement at that time. Could Joanna have played some role in inspiring either or both men?

Ultimately though, her own path led away from court toward following Jesus himself after experiencing his miraculous power first-hand.

Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon, who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

Acts 13:1 (ESV)

Joanna chose an unconventional life and defied social norms by traveling alone – unheard of for a woman in that era. But what drove her was more than societal opinion; it was the approval of Jesus, whom she served with grace through generous acts like donating her property and wealth to His cause.

Joanna followed Christ earnestly from sermon to sermon, becoming one of the first female disciples.  Her courage proves that faith can guide us toward greater heights even during tumultuous times.

Joanna faithfully followed Jesus, caring for his needs and keeping watch from afar during His crucifixion – though she was never mentioned in that event specifically.

However, Joanna remains a key figure associated with one of Christianity’s greatest miracles – Jesus’ resurrection!

Alongside Mary Magdalene and Mary (mother of James), it appears that her loving touch extended beyond death itself as she prepared spices to embalm Christ’s body before they went together to the tomb and found that  He had indeed risen three days after being nailed onto the cross!

She witnessed His resurrection and was likely welcomed into the inner circle of Apostles, who experienced an incredible outpouring of power from God during Pentecost to spread their message far and wide. 

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers

Acts 1:12-14 (ESV)

Joanna, whom biblical scholars believe is later known as Junia, is one of Christianity’s earliest female missionaries.

Paul even praised her in his Epistle to the Romans for having been “in the Lord before him.” However, later on, documentation indicates that she was imprisoned as punishment for advocating Christian beliefs.

Greet Andronicus and Junia my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles and they were in Christ before me.

Romans 16:7 (ESV)

Some Critical Facts About Joanna in the Bible

Joanna is one of only three Jewish women mentioned by name in the Bible. 

Three women had the privilege of being personally touched by Jesus and seeing their lives changed extraordinarily.

Out of many unnamed individuals, these remarkable ladies were singled out for recognition in Scripture as a testament to how deeply they experienced God’s transforming love – and shared it with others through ministry and influence.

Joanna had been cured of infirmity or illness by Jesus

After exhausting all the resources available as the wife of a prominent household manager, she still found herself searching for relief from her affliction.

Until one day, she encountered Jesus and was granted freedom from whatever it may have been – be it an evil spirit or sickness.

Joanna in the Bible, witnessed the defining moments of history unfolding before her eyes. 

This woman was blessed to experience something truly extraordinary – the divine power of Jesus! She observed his miracles, heard him teach, and even experienced healing herself.

Can you imagine what it must have been like? The crowds were in awe as they listened to Him speak about God’s Kingdom, some believing while others dismissed His teachings entirely.

Joanna possessed immense wealth, remarkable privilege, and considerable influence.

Joanna’s privileged lifestyle of wealth and comfort was incomparable to that experienced by many of Jesus’ followers.

But even her high status couldn’t heal the aching needs she felt spiritually and physically – it wasn’t until somebody extraordinary entered her life: a compassionate carpenter from an overlooked town called Nazareth, who finally satisfied and fulfilled every longing within Joanna.

Her unique connection with Herod Antipas’ household also presented incredible opportunities for ministry which would not have been available otherwise.

Joanna provided her own resources to help support Jesus’ ministry

She didn’t just quietly admire Jesus – she actively showed her faith and appreciation by providing essential resources to him and his disciples as they traveled, spreading the gospel of God’s kingdom. This may have included food, clothing, shelter, and other necessities.

Why Is it Important That We Serve as Joanna Did?

Joanna devoted her life to Jesus’ mission, an incredible act of love and gratitude for the fresh start she was given.

Like the woman who poured perfume on Him and wiped his feet with her hair, Joanna showed complete dedication in living out her faith.

Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

John 12:3 (ESV)

Joanna and the rest of us are blessed with a chance to spread the good news about Jesus. We share our joy in being forgiven by God through Christ’s compassion, using whatever we can—our time, talents, and money—to move people closer to Him.

No matter our situation, Jesus welcomes us in with open arms. So then, when we come to Him from the depths of sin-sickness and brokenness,

He offers a unique remedy – healing for all unwell within ourselves and providing a way back into His loving embrace. 

Jesus showed us the ultimate act of grace and love when He carried our sorrows and sins, suffered an agonizing death on the cross, and then rose again three days later.

Through His selfless sacrifice, we can be reconciled to God. We are blessed with this incredible opportunity to share Jesus’ redemption message so that others may experience it too.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16 (ESV)

Through service and testimony, we find ourselves living with purpose – fulfilling a mission set before us by God.

We are encouraged to carry on the legacy of faith left behind by inspiring women like Joanna, who showed their love for our Saviour through action. 

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10 Important Lessons from Joanna in the Bible

  1. Having a luxurious lifestyle is not indicative of one’s righteousness in the eyes of God. Riches and poverty don’t determine your faith but how you use them to strengthen it.
  2. God can use anyone to advance His kingdom.
  3. Sharing the Word of God doesn’t depend on fame or recognition; it’s more about being obedient and spreading the truth to others.
  4. God created everyone with unique gifts and talents.
  5. Sharing the Gospel brings immense joy, but it’s not without its bumps in the road. You may sometimes face heartache and hardship – yet remember that Jesus walks with you every step of the way!
  6. Even now, Jesus has the power to bring healing and restoration. His mercy is never-ending.
  7. We are called to share the good news of Jesus Christ.
  8. When things don’t happen as expected, know that God has a plan.
  9. Remember the love that God has for you.
  10. Fellowship with other believers can strengthen us as we share God’s love.

You may enjoy this teaching about Joanna in the Bible.

Or, this fictional story based on real biblical events of Joanna in the Bible and Jesus during his last year of earthly ministry.

Joanna: A Story of Love & Betrayal by Gene Weatherly

Joanna was a faithful disciple of Christ and one of the first to spread the news of His resurrection.

She served Him humbly, offering her loyalty and generosity as proof that anyone can enter the kingdom if they follow after Jesus. Although brief, Joanna’s story is an inspiring reminder for us today.

Joanna in the Bible is an excellent example of how each person in scripture can help us grow closer to God.

Whether this is the first time you’ve learned of her and her story or studied her life for years, we all have something meaningful and inspirational to learn from Joanna–and every other character mentioned (or not!) in Scripture.

Every single word has an important lesson waiting within it, as it is God’s Word.

ESV – “Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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