I WAS NOT JUST ONE OF THE WOMEN (Lk.8: 1-3; 24: 1-11)
I am Joanna. My name means, “Yahu is gracious.” Indeed, the Lord has been very gracious towards me. I, too, was one of those who had lost all hope of ever being useful in our world. But Jesus’ life and words gave me a new and different reason to live. I was also the wife of a man who was in charge over King Herod’s household. Cuza, my husband, was Herod’s most trusted servant. He managed and supervised all the affairs and personnel for the king. I did not come out of a background of sin, like my friend Mary Magdalene. I was a member of a class that was just below the upper class – one that was just below the king’s family itself. When I left home to follow Jesus, I gave up more than anyone else. But, I had more than the other women and could be of greater service. However, I never got as close to Jesus as Mary Magdalene. I did not possess her charm, nor was I as outgoing, as she was. Nevertheless, I was a close second. You will find me listed next to her or second in command of the women. Like Mary Magdalene, I too was delivered from an ugly spirit and a dreadful disease. Evil knows no bounds and sickness has no limits. They affect the rich and poor alike. They are cancerous and progressive. They are a clandestine force that eats up literally a human being. Both mind and body are thrown into turmoil and rendered absolutely helpless. And everything, that was beyond the human understanding, was considered the product of the victim’s sin. I, too, must have done something very bad to suffer such ill effect. In my condition, I was of no use to my husband or to King Herod.
I, too, heard about Jesus. With the help of my servants, I was able to meet Him. He was kind enough to free me of the evil spirits and heal my body of my infirmity. I experienced such a relief that I could not find any words to express my gratitude. I also realized immediately that this exceptional man of God required earthly means to carry out His mission. I was blessed materially and it became a little matter for me to back the ministry of Jesus. I joined a group of women who were able to provide for Jesus and His followers for their daily needs. This included serving the men with comforts such as washing and cooling their feet, kept fires lit at nights and warm blankets and pillows handy – many of these were outdoors. Jesus was a pleasure to serve. He was never demanding and always appreciative. He never rested as much as the others. He would lean His head against a rock, as if it were a soft pillow and a short time later would emerge all refreshed and ready to move on. Many times, Jesus would withdraw to be by Himself and seek the assurance of His heavenly father. I had the feeling that He felt embraced by heaven itself. When He prayed, it was as if heaven had opened and angels ascended and descended upon Him. There had to be angels; for, no human being could endure what Jesus endured and give off as much energy as He did. The crowds were endless and the problems were enormous; but, Jesus kept on meeting their needs. He was especially compassionate with those our society considered to be outcasts. He was not overly fond of our religious and political leaders. He called our King Herod a fox and that He would meet him soon. I did not realize that it was going to be very soon.
In addition,to the daily needs, we also provided for accommodations in Jerusalem. I knew some ladies that were well off and willing to host Jesus and His company for a day or two. Some ladies were secret supporters. They helped us serve our Master against the will of their men. Those of us, who followed Jesus daily, faced severe censoring. Our religious leaders had begun to excommunicate people who were endorsing or supporting Jesus in any way. There were more of those who refused to take us in then there were who gladly served us. Our Master never got discouraged when we were turned down or were refused service. He told us to shake off the dust and move on. There were more people and places to go to before His mission would end. That, too, we did not understand. His urgency to visit all the towns in Israel was His primary objective. In fact, He had sent out others and told them to hurry His mission for fear that the work would not be finished before His day arrived. We would soon learn what that day was.
One, in our group, who lived and traveled with us and ate our bread had already agreed to betray our Teacher. He broke all our hearts when he did it by kissing our Lord. That kiss might as well have been a sword. He led a band to take Jesus from us by force and handed Him over to our leaders, who had nothing less on their minds but murder. What shocked us, beyond our apprehension, was that they did it in the name of our God. These religious and political leaders even forced our Governor to do their bidding. They made him look as if he were a follower of Jesus and ready to set up a kingdom in opposition to Rome. Even our King Herod got in on the act of interrogating our Teacher. Not even he had the stomach for sentencing Jesus when he was offered a chance. Then why should he? He already had the blood of John the Baptist on his hands. Herod was a fox. That is, he was smart enough to leave Jesus alone. He let Governor Pilate sacrifice the Lamb of God for our sins, so that the Son of God could open for us a way back to God through the resurrection of Jesus, our Master. Behind all this was the hand of God and we did not know it.