Joanna: A Financial Supporter of Jesus' Ministry

My name is Joanna. I live in Tiberius on the west side of the Sea of Galilee with my husband, Chuza. My home while growing up was in Bethsaida, where my closest friends were Salome and Rebecca. Since all of us had a traditional upbringing our parents insisted on arranging our marriages. Salome's parents found her a young man whose father was a successful commercial fisherman. Rebecca's parents chose a man about her age who had worked with his parents in a general merchandise shop. As for me, my father worked in financial management for the local Romans so he selected a man older than I who was employed in similar work.

Salome has two sons, James and John. Rebecca died when her daughter, Mary Magdalene, was only twelve years old. Since that time, Salome has taken Mary Magdalene under her wing and has been good to continue to spend time with her during these last four years.

My husband, Chuza, worked at one time as business manager for the centurion who was the leader of the Roman Century stationed in Capernaum. When Herod the Great died, his son, Herod Antipas, was appointed by the Romans as Tetrarch of Galilee, and Pontius Pilate was made governor of Judea. Then Herod Antipas, who was building the city of Tiberius south of Capernaum, asked that Chuza become his business manager.

When Salome and I met in Magdala with Rebecca's daughter, Mary Magdalene, not long ago to catch up on family news, Salome shared that her sons James and John had joined an itinerant preacher named Jesus, who, with His apostles, had been traveling all around Galilee healing the sick and giving sight to the blind. He even healed Mary Magdalene of her seizures when He came to visit her and her father in their cobbler shop.

I was intrigued by what I was hearing about Jesus and decided I must find a way to meet Him. When Salome said that Jesus was preaching in Capernaum, I suggested that the three of us go there to hear Him.

We wrapped a few things in a carrying cloth and set out on our two hour journey. In Capernaum, we went directly to the synagogue and slipped into the back row where we could hear Jesus telling stories. Each story had a message. After the service John sought us out and asked if we would like to speak to Jesus.

In unison, our response was, "Yes!"

When we stood beside Jesus, He greeted each of us individually. He told Salome how grateful He was for the help of her reliable sons, James and John. Then He turned to Mary Magdalene. He studied her face for several moments as if to see how she was feeling before telling her to give His best wishes to her father. I think He cares a great deal for her.

Next Jesus turned to me and spoke with a smile, "You must be Joanna. Salome has told me all about you and your lifelong friendship."

"Yes, our friendship as young girls has only grown stronger over the years."

Since others were waiting to talk to Jesus, we soon moved outside to continue our conversation. Eventually Salome asked her son, James, if we could spend the night at his place. He was happy to hear we were staying over and said that he and John would love to have us so we would have some time to visit.

The five of us talked late into the night. As I listened to James and John tell about Jesus' traveling ministry, I sensed a need for some women to join the entourage so that meals would be prepared and clothes mended.

The next morning, after James and John had left, I told the other two women that I would like to travel with Jesus to prepare food for Him and His apostles because His healing ministry seemed so important. Salome and Mary Magdalene said they too would like to be of service in this way as well. Then I went on to explain that my husband, Chuza, in his job as business manager for Herod, had funds which were to be given to Jewish groups to mollify the Jews and hold down rebellion and that we could use some of this money to purchase food.

When we told Jesus about our idea, He gladly received it. So for the next year and a half, the three of us were a part of Jesus' itinerant ministry. We returned regularly to our homes, but after short stays, we would be off on another preaching and healing mission.

During our second spring together, we followed Jesus and the apostles to Jerusalem, but I was not prepared for what happened. The high priest, Caiaphas, had stirred up a mob of people in order to convince Pilot to crucify Jesus.

The women from Galilee stood with me at a distance weeping as we watched the crucifixion. I wanted to hide my face in my hands to lessen my pain, but I held my head high in loyalty to share His pain. After Jesus died, Joseph of Arimathea took His body down from the cross. We followed him to see the tomb where our Lord would be laid then returned to the inn and prepared spices and perfume to anoint His body. The next day was the Sabbath, so we rested in accordance with the commandment.

On the following day, at early dawn, we gathered our spices and perfume and walked the path to the burial site. Even though Joseph and Nicodemus had put some spices on Jesus' body, more were needed. Before we left we were somewhat concerned about the large stone that sealed the tomb, but this did not deter us from going. To our amazement, as we came close, we could see that the rock had been rolled away. When I looked into the open tomb, I saw two men in dazzling clothes. I was terrified and bowed my face to the ground. One of the men spoke, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here; He has risen!"

When we realized that He had indeed risen as He had said He would, Mary Magdalene, the other women, and I ran to tell Peter and the disciples. Peter was the only one who half believed, so he took off running to the tomb. But the rest of the disciples didn't even half believe.

When I returned to my home in Bethsaida, I was in good spirits, for I knew in my heart that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead and was all He had claimed to be. Eventually we received word that the disciples also believed, but it was only after Jesus had appeared to them behind closed doors. I guess they had to see for themselves before they were able to believe. As for me, I was grateful that Jesus allowed the three of us women, who had served Him so diligently, to be the first to believe in His resurrection and to spread the good news.

Based on Luke 8:2-3, 23:49 to 24:12.

Copyright 1997 by John C. Westervelt

Return to Table of Contents