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Saturday, March 25, 2023

The Good Doctor: Jesus Christ

During his ministry on this earth, Jesus of Nazareth was NOT to be found among the religious elite and theologians of his day. No, in ALL four of the Gospel accounts of his ministry, we find Jesus speaking to the average Joe and Jane of the time and healing them of their sins and physical and spiritual ailments. Indeed, we are informed in the Gospel of Luke that some of the religious elite even asked his disciples on one occasion why he was always hanging out with the dregs of society (Luke 5:29-30, ESV). According to this account, Jesus didn't even wait for his disciples to respond! Instead, we read that he answered them himself and said: "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance." (Luke 5:31-32)

In fact, in all four of these Gospel accounts of his ministry, more often than not, we find Jesus reprimanding and criticizing the religious leaders of his day! Indeed, he was constantly criticizing their hypocrisy, self-righteousness and pride and pointing out the inconsistencies inherent in their theology. Interestingly, however, Christ is never portrayed as adopting this posture with the masses! With them, he was always the good physician or the good shepherd.

On this blog, I have consistently pointed out the fact that Jesus said that he came to this earth to fulfill the Torah and the prophets. In this connection, it is interesting to note that we find Jesus quoting a passage from the book of Isaiah in that same Gospel of Luke that we quoted earlier in this post. At the very beginning of his ministry, we read: "And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.' And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, 'Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.'" (Luke 4:16-21, compare to Isaiah 61:1-2)

Thus, having clearly established the character of Christ's ministry from the Gospel accounts which constitute a large portion of the Christian canon, the question which comes immediately to my mind is "Why haven't the majority of Christ's disciples followed in his footsteps?" That one is quickly followed by a few others: "Why do so many Christians see the speck in their brother's and sister's eyes so clearly, and they can't see the beam in their own?" "Why are so many Christians ready to stone the sinners they have targeted?" "Why are so many Christians so scrupulous about tithing while ignoring things like judgment, mercy and faith?" Are we good Samaritans and good doctors? OR Are we good Scribes and Pharisees? 

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