Check out Matthew 9:12 and Luke 5:31. In both places Jesus is quoted as saying “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick”. I’ve read these verses many times on my way though the Gospels and there’s a pretty straight forward lesson to be learned here. The Pharisees are none too happy that Jesus is mixing with the wrong crowd. Jesus then tells them that the “sick” are exactly the people he needs to spend His time on. This week, as I was reading Luke, it struck me that this passage also has missional implications. Have you ever thought of this verse as pertaining to the “sick” outside of your town? How about outside of your country? One of the questions we get asked a lot is “Why Japan?”. I love it when people ask that question, but I’ve noticed that different people mean different things when they ask it. Some just want to know if Japan even needs missionaries. That’s easy. I have a bunch of facts and a powerpoint presentation to show you. But sometimes people mean “Why spend the money to send missionaries to Japan when there are unsaved people across the street?”. I think I’m going to start using the verses above as an answer.
Lets continue with Jesus’ metaphor. Just for clarity; doctor = Christ-follower, sick = unsaved person. Japan is like a nation with very, very few doctors. We (America) have an abundance of doctors. There’s practically a hospital on every corner. A sick person in Japan may go their whole life and never meet a doctor. That doesn’t seem fair. Doesn’t it seem like we should be sending doctors over there? They could train Japanese doctors to start Japanese hospitals. Many lives would be saved in the process.
Jesus was explicit about our responsibility to reach the nations with his good news when he gave us his Great Commission. That’s motivating on it’s own, but seeing it through the metaphor of the sick needing access to doctors may be helpful in understanding the heart behind Jesus’ command.