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Mary Magdalene, Pt. 3

Mary Magdalene, Pt. 3
Strategic Connections

Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources (Luke 8:1-3).

From Luke’s brief description, much is said. Chuza, the husband of Joanna, was the steward for Herod Antipas. This means he was a trusted member of Herod’s royal administration, and it means Joanna probably lived in Tiberias among all the dignitaries and tourists.

…Circumstantial evidence suggests that common business interests brought Mary and Joanna together and then led them to “discover” Jesus and promote his career (Sawicki, p. 134).

 We could ask the legitimate question of who discovered whom. Jesus could well have discovered Mary and Joanna, both in their need for deeper meaning and spiritual significance. Nevertheless, they were bound together in a relationship with Jesus and his movement that transformed them both.

Mary Magdalene’s home is three miles away from Joanna’s, a one-hour walk and only twenty minutes by boat. We don’t have the details to complete the picture; the archeological evidence from Magdala offers us only so much. But each of the known details we do have say much. Mary’s lack of a husband, the consistent use of her geographical location in conjunction with her name, the fact she had resources enough to support Jesus’ ministry, and her relationship with Joanna all illustrate a well-connected and ideally positioned woman.

In an apparent attempt to remind us of their connection and importance, Luke places Mary and Joanna together as the named and crucial witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection.

 Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale and they did not believe them (Luke 24:10-11).

Luke tells it differently than John. Here, Mary and Joanna, two of the three women at the tomb, are the first witnesses to the resurrection. Notice that, in John, the gospel writer mentions only Mary Magdalene. Luke makes the point of including Joanna.

The theory makes considerable sense—two women with a significant network to the wider business and political world had already formed an alliance. And together, their lives are touched and reshaped by Jesus. They offer themselves over to his leadership and give him the support that will allow others to be changed, too. Still, we are confronted with the question of how this unique woman of scripture, who was well-connected, well-positioned, and well-off, could have “seven demons.”

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