Luke 8:1-3

Open your mind and heart as you read the passage of Scripture aloud and then again quietly to yourself. Listen for God’s word to you.




Whilst Mary Magdalene is mentioned several times in the Gospels, her companions whom Luke names in Chapter 8 of his Gospel are less familiar. Joanna is mentioned here and in Luke 24:10 when she went to the tomb on the Sunday morning after Jesus was crucified. Whilst Susanna may have been included amongst one of the ‘other’ women who made that journey on Resurrection Sunday, Luke is the only Gospel writer to mention herby name. In the passage in chapter 8, both women are named as those who accompanied Jesus during His ministry. Luke describes this group of women as those who had been delivered from evil spirits and diseases.

Joanna, (whose name means ‘Yahweh has been gracious’) we are told, is the wife of Chuza who was a steward and had oversight of Herod’s financial interests. It would have taken a great deal of courage for her to follow Jesus when her husband was such a trusted and important member of Herod’s household for Herod was no fan of the Lord. Some scholars say it is possible that both Chuza and Joanna were slaves in the king’s household, but as Luke mentions that Joanna was supporting Jesus out of her own financial means this suggestion is doubtful. Slaves were not likely to have their own money nor was it likely that she would have been able to accompany Jesus freely if that was the case. But the support she offered, whether financial or practical, would have been helpful to Jesus’ ministry. If, as some scholars suggest, Joanna was the same person as Junia with different versions of her name being recorded by Luke and Paul (when the latter commended her for her faith and courage) it could explain why she had been imprisoned for her faith – and why her husband Chuza was not with her.

This is the only mention of Susanna by name in the Gospels. Whilst many women followed Jesus, the fact that Luke singles Susanna out may indicate that she was a prominent member of the group.

As a result, both women would have spent time with Jesus and talked with Him, even though the Church, until the last 100 years or so, has suppressed the role of such women. They were important to Jesus’ ministry and were respected by their companions and the early Church.

Allowing women to be the first to witness the resurrection and to meet Him in His risen form, Jesus acknowledged their faithful support and honoured their love for Him. He gave them a role as witnesses and commissioned women to boldly proclaim both His word and His works, so affirming their equality in His kingdom.

To the Group Leader

Please be aware that you may have a woman or women in your
group who suffer abuse, who hide in the group or who are ignored in
some area of their lives. Be sensitive and ready to step in if there are
signs of distress to pray with the women concerned, even if this is
done after the session in private.
Be aware too of married couples where the husband is present and
where the woman is upset.
Pray about any action God wants you to take in regard to such a
situation. It is advisable for women to counsel women and men to
counsel men.


What is the most loving, unexpected, undreamt of gift you have ever received. (This could be the gift of time, experience, materials etc) Why was it so special for you?


  • What ministries in the church or your world do you support? Why have you decided on these ministries? How do you support them?
  • Joanna and her friends were described as ‘the women who gifted Jesus’. How do you gift Jesus? What does it mean to you to serve Him in this way? What does such service cost you in emotion, energy, spiritual involvement, time, or even finances?
  • How do you think what you do ministers to Jesus? Do you feel comfortable with these acts of ministry? It can’t have been easy for these women on the road in first century Israel. How would you feel if Jesus called you out of your comfort zone to minister in different ways? What effect would that have on your level of faith and trust?
  • When have you offered, or been offered, the gift of presence? What did such a gift mean to you?
  • How would you respond to someone who said to you that Jesus can do all things so He does not need your gift of time, money, service etc? Why would you respond in this way?
  • How can you, as an individual Christ-follower, as a small group, and as a church extend the hand of grace – the gift of grace – you have received, so others may benefit and grow in their faith and love for Jesus? Spend some time discussing suggestions and opportunities to do so.
  • How can you preach the Gospel, only using words if you absolutely have to? How can you do this?
  • How can the group help you with the struggles you have mentioned during this session?


Pray for women who are abused in any way – those you know about and those you don’t. Pray for one another in regard to the issues that have been raised during your discussion time, and in regard to other needs of the group.


As a result of your discussion about extending the grace you have received to others, nominate someone to contact the church to pass on any ideas that have arisen. Be prepared to take the matter further yourselves. As individuals, make an effort to preach the Gospel this week without using words.


Women of the Word: Joanna and Susanna
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