Jesus the Disreputable Doctor


It’s been a jolly few weeks on the conservatism deathwatch; George Will has chosen to cling to the dead husk of conservatism rather than a living hope that might animate whatever comes after conservatism. Ironically, in his very next column he deployed, in opposition to public funding for PBS, the very same kind of arguments that he had inexplicably denounced in Whittaker Chambers.

So let’s turn to something more cheerful – my latest for TGR:

The shepherd was very low in social rank, but quite respectable. The doctor was disreputable, like the publican or the prostitute.

This is probably related to the widespread presence of medical quackery and exploitation of desperate people in the age before the proper organization of medicine as a science. (Remember, the sick woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ robe had spent herself into penury hiring doctors in hope of alleviating her illness, to no effect. We need not assume the doctors she paid were honest men.)

Now, with all that in mind, imagine in your mind how shocking this scene must have been: The Pharisees attack Jesus for associating himself with sinners – with disreputable people – and his response is to identify himself as one of the most disreputable kinds of people: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.”

Coming soon: God the farmer, potter, counsellor, warrior/king . . . and a surprise finale.

Leave a Reply