Six: What If Jesus Had Never Been Born

“’Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.’ 5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. 6 Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. 7 The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs.” -Isaiah 35:5-7

Jesus’ healing ministry was foretold by the prophet Isaiah and a sign for John the Baptist to remain faithful to Jesus while in prison. Isaiah predicted that when the Messiah came, He would be the Great Physician, who possessed God’s healing power to restore creation and those affected by the fall of sin; the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the mute speak, the dead are raised to life. When the Messiah came, He not only did just that, but His followers ushered in an age of compassion and human dignity. Even today, Jesus’ followers continue to value life and seek to care for everyone, especially the sick, the elderly, the physically disabled and the dying. In fact, hospitals were virtually invented by Christian Churches. Yes, there were Roman military hospitals during war times and the Greeks practiced a rudimentary form of medicine for the rich. But, the ancient world before Christianity was often cruel and inhumane to the weak, the sick and the dying. Abortion, infanticide and euthanasia by poising of the sick was common place. There was a band of physicians who adhered to the Hippocratic philosophy of doing no harm, but it was rare.

From the very beginning, Christians took care of and ministered to the sick and the dying, taking their example from Jesus Christ. In the 2nd Century, a plague hit the city of Carthage. The pagan residents quickly threw their sick out on the street like normal. The bishop and the entire Christian community responded by caring for the sick and taking them into their own homes. Many pagans converted to Christianity because of their great witness of caring for the plague victims. In the 4th Century, Saint Basil of Caesarea established a 300 bed hospital, which would become a model for Christian care. In the years that followed, Christians built hospitals in cities around the Holy Roman Empire. The building of hospitals was supported by the Christian Emperor Charlemagne, who decreed that every cathedral should include a school, monastery and hospital. The Benedictine order of monks have always dedicated themselves to caring for the poor and the sick. By the mid-1500’s, with the help of Benedictine order, the Holy Roman Empire boasted thousands of monasteries practicing medicine. In 1527, a terrible plague struck Wittenberg, and virtually all of Luther’s students fled for their lives. The prince even begged Luther to leave town also, but Luther felt pastors should stay and help the afflicted. Because he and Katherine took in so many sick and dying, their house had to be quarantined even after the plague ended.  I also, don’t have to remind you that today many of the first hospitals in America were created and funded by the Christian Church and continue to be privately funded.

Jesus Christ brought us a more caring and compassionate world, one where the sick and the dying aren’t tossed away and discarded. A Christian world is one where the weak are cared for and their suffering is alleviated. Today, we take for granted that we can go to a hospital and receive care for our physical ailments. It is because of Christian values and principles that all life is valued, even the life of the unborn. Think about Nazi Germany when Darwin’s “survival of the fittest principles” were put into full effect and not only whole ethnic groups were eliminated through atheist eugenics programs, but the mentally ill and the physically disabled were annihilated as well. We can also look to Communism and its utilitarian philosophy of “usefulness to the state” where the elderly, the weak and the unfit were eliminated for the "greater good" of society. Remember, if a society will not have the compassion of Christianity, it will often have the cruelty of barbarism or worse. It is a dark thought in deed to think, what if Jesus had never been born. We have too many reminders from history of godless nations and their devaluing of human life.

God Bless,

Pastor Joel