Joanna

Luke 8:1-3; 23:8-12; 24:1-12; Mark 6:14-32; Acts 13:1

John the Baptist had been murdered! It was a chilling example of the powerful currents of intrigue that swirled continuously throughout the palace. My husband, Chuza, managed the vast personal estates of King Herod Antipas, and we had quickly learned to navigate our dangerous environment.

Herod had initially feared John the Baptist, regarding him as a holy man. He had paid attention to John’s teachings until John told him it was not lawful for him to marry Herodias, Herod’s sister-in-law, who was also his niece. Because of this he put John in prison, though he still feared him and was unwilling to issue the order to have him killed.

John’s admonishment to Herod also infuriated Herodias, and she sought opportunity to force Herod to kill him. She arranged for her daughter, Salome, to dance before Herod and all his nobles. Herod foolishly vowed to give her anything she wanted. So Herodias instructed Salome to ask for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Trapped by his own rash promise and wanting to save face before his dinner guests, Herod felt he had no choice but to agree.

I myself had been gravely ill. I tried every conventional remedy. Nothing worked. So I sought and found this Jesus, who miraculously made me whole again! Forever changed by his mercy, I began to follow him as he traveled through the cities and villages of Galilee. Chuza’s well-paid position enabled me to help support Jesus’ ministry.

At the end of Jesus’ ministry, I helplessly witnessed his agony on the cross. And when I later learned how Herod and his soldiers had ridiculed Jesus prior to the crucifixion, I was even more heartbroken, because I knew these men.

Herod had been elated when Pilate sent Jesus to him. For months the king had wanted to see Jesus, from the first time he had heard of him, fearing he was John the Baptist returning from the dead. Herod was fascinated by Jesus’ supernatural powers. He knew Jesus had healed me and was determined to witness a miracle firsthand. He eagerly asked Jesus questions, but Jesus did not answer. Herod, not one to be ignored, became increasingly irritated. He and his soldiers began insulting Jesus, scoffing as they draped a brilliant, kingly robe on him, then returned him to Pilate for crucifixion.

After the cruel execution was over, Jesus was hastily placed in a sepulcher. I went with the other women to prepare Jesus for burial. We expected to find his mutilated body, but discovered an empty tomb instead! Stunned and blinded by the dazzling light of two angels, we fell on our faces, trembling. The angels asked why we sought the living among the dead. Our fear immediately turned to rejoicing when we grasped that he was alive!

At the end, everyone, including Herod Antipas, knew this was no ordinary man who had been crucified.

Though now over, my sojourn in the palace provided a unique opportunity to bear testimony of the love and grace of my Lord to Herod and his household. Even Herod’s own foster-brother and close companion, Manaen, later became a prominent believer.

By Joyce Catherwood

Copyright 2007

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