Wednesday, 6 December 2017

The Daughters of Germanicus, Jairus, and Jesus

     As Jesus of Nazareth was working as a carpenter in Galilee and young Saul of Tarsus was studying under Rabbi Gamaliel in Judea, far away on the western end of the Roman Empire a baby girl was born into the imperial family. She was the second daughter of the well-known and well-respected General Germanicus, who was responsible for maintaining order on the western frontiers and enforcing Roman Law. The mother was Agrippina the Elder, and the baby’s name was Julia Druscilla.1 She was a great-granddaughter of Emperor Augustus, great-niece of Emperor Tiberius, sister of Emperor Caligula, niece of Emperor Claudius, and maternal aunt of Emperor Nero.
     That same year, a Jewish couple on the far eastern boundary of the Empire welcomed a baby girl into their family. The child’s father was the well-known and well-respected Jairus, who would go on to serve as an administrative official in the local synagogue. He would be in charge of arranging weekly services and keeping order, with the weighty responsibility of enforcing Jewish Law.
     Around this time a young lady was having complications with her menstrual cycle. The bleeding wouldn’t stop, and as long as it continued, there would be physical, financial, and social repercussions. Her health would deteriorate, as prolonged menstrual bleeding leads to anemia, along with fatigue, weakness, and pain. She would eventually spend all that she had on doctors and medical treatments, only to get worse.2 Because of ceremonial uncleanness she was untouchable (Lev. 15:19-27, 31), and it would be up to the synagogue officials to enforce segregation policy.

Twelve Years Later …

     Julia Druscilla was living the life of luxury and privilege as a pampered little girl in Rome, while her great-uncle Tiberius reigned in decadence and corruption.3Why does the way of the wicked prosper?” (Jer. 12:1b).4 On the other side of the Empire, the 12-year-old daughter of Jairus was critically ill, and the feeble, impoverished, ostracized woman was still bleeding. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous” (Psa. 34:19a). 
     Then Jesus came to town.5 He was thronged by a multitude of curious and needy people, but when Jairus arrived on the scene, they made enough room for him to fall down at the Lord’s feet. The distraught father urgently pleaded with Jesus to come quickly to lay healing hands on his dying daughter. With no time to waste, they headed toward Jairus’ house.
     Along the way the procession was interrupted. A desperate, hemorrhaging woman needed to make contact with Christ, but the crowds made no room for her as they did for Jairus. She had to fight her way through from behind, apparently on her hands and knees reaching through legs and ankles to touch the very bottom of his garment. The Lord stopped. The only one who could save the only child of an anxious father, stopped! Turning around in the opposite direction, he asked, in the groping crowd, who touched him?
     As Jairus feared for his precious daughter, Jesus affectionately calls the fearful woman, “daughter.”6 This is the only occasion in the biblical record he uses this endearing address. Jairus had asked the Lord to come touch his ailing daughter, and on the way the Lord was touched by his own ailing daughter. Despite her consigned impurity and the Law forbidding that she be touched, Jesus could do what the Law was incapable of doing. Her faith had brought her to Christ, and she was healed at once and told to go in peace.
     By this time Jairus’ little girl had died, robbing her heartbroken loved ones of their peace. If it hadn’t been for the interruption, the Lord would have gotten there sooner. Others advised Jairus not to trouble the teacher, but the teacher advised the troubled father to replace fear with faith. The Great Physician dismissed the ridicule of unbelievers, and with the grieving parents and three of his disciples he enters the little girl’s room, taking her by the hand. Immediately she is raised back to life.

Ten Years Later …

     At the age of 22 Julia Druscilla became terminally ill. If only the Messiah were there to take her by the hand and restore her life. Unfortunately, her great-uncle Tiberius had appointed a military prefect, Pontius Pilate, to govern the imperial province of Judea, and he had ordered the Messiah’s brutal execution a few years earlier. Julia Druscilla died in Rome on the 10th of June AD 38. Her loved ones, especially her brother Caligula, greatly mourned her loss. With no hope beyond this physical world, Emperor Caligula had the Roman Senate declare his sister Panthea, “all-goddess.”
     Meanwhile, on the far eastern side of the Empire, the Lord’s disciples “throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified” (Acts 9:31), including those who had been touched by his healing hand. Saul of Tarsus, now himself a follower of Jesus, was back in his hometown (v. 30) getting prepared to carry the message of the risen Savior all the way to Rome. It would take several years through numerous obstacles and hardships. He would be falsely accused of inciting insurrection against Julia Drusilla’s uncle Claudius (Acts 17:7) and eventually stand trial before her nephew Nero (Acts 27:24; 28:19). From Rome the apostle would go on to write, “All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar’s household” (Phil. 4:22).

The Moral of the Story

Jesus is the answer, for the world today. Above him there’s no other, Jesus is the way.7

--Kevin L. Moore

     1 Julia Druscilla was born in Abitarvium, Germania (modern-day Koblenz, Germany) on 16th September AD 16. It was the Roman year 769 Ab urbe condita (from the founding of the city of Rome), but since the medieval period dates have been calculated according to the purported year of Christ’s birth: anno Domini (AD), “in the year of the Lord.” At the age of 3, when Julia Druscilla’s father died, her mother moved her and her siblings to Rome.
     2 Mark 5:25-26.
     3 Tacitus, Annals VI.50, 51.
     4 Scripture quotations are from the NKJV.
     5 Parallel accounts are Matt. 9:18-26; Mark 5:21-43; Luke 8:40-56, although Matthew appears to give an abridged version of the story.
     6 Matt. 9:22; Mark 5:34; Luke 8:48.
     7 Lyrics by Andraé Crouch.

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you Kevin, makes you really think more deeply into the lives of the people involved.