Jesus and Germs
Does Jesus care about how we treat the sick? He does. So important is the matter that Jesus claims he will judge us based upon this issue. Look at Matt 25:31–46.
Jesus teaches that there will be two groups of people at the end of time—sheep and goats (Matt 25:32). Sheep are those who meet the practical needs of undervalued people. Specifically, sheep visit the sick (Matt 25:36). How will Jesus reward the sheep? Jesus will say to them, “Inherit the kingdom prepared for you” (Matt 25:34). Goats, on the other hand, do not care about the marginalized. Specifically, they neglect to visit the sick (Matt 25:43). Jesus will say to them, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire” (Matt 25:41).
In Jesus’ day, there was great cost to visiting the sick. Unlike today, ancient people did not have antibiotics, vaccines, MRIs, and x-rays. By visiting the sick, an ancient Christian could contract a life-threatening illness and possibly spread it to their loved ones. If this were a serious illness (like measles), this visitation could prove deadly. What a cost! Even with this risk, Jesus still required Christians to care for the sick.
This command to care for the sick is part of a larger command that Jesus gave for us to lay down our lives for others (John 15:12). This is difficult. To follow Jesus is to bear a cross (Matt 16:24). Christianity is not about perpetual self-preservation. It is risky to follow Jesus. Very risky. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
Dear friend, are you willing to risk your life to visit the sick—to comfort, encourage, exhort, and pray with them? Our eternal destiny depends on how we answer this question. “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it,” Jesus says in Matt 16:25, “but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”