What would Jesus say about the coronavirus? It’s a good question to ask about anything, and a useful way of sharing the faith: “What would Jesus say?” It sounds like a tricky question to answer in this case. It’s not as if we can look up the word “coronavirus” in a concordance or Bible dictionary. But we can look at what Jesus said in similar circumstances.
Here is something Jesus did say: “Those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them – do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish” (Luke 13:4-5, NIV). How is this incident in any way like the spread of coronavirus? Both are tragic accidents, probably with some human negligence.
And what does Jesus make of it? He gives us two warnings against wrong thinking. First, he warns us not to think that those who suffer are being directly punished for their sins. How easy it is to think like that – especially when we’re not the ones suffering! Second, he also warns us not to think that people won’t be punished for their sins – unless they repent. We’re mostly better at heeding and repeating the first warning than the second.
The coronavirus and similar crises should remind us that life is fragile, that the next world is nearer than we realise, that there is a judgment to come, and that we need to be ready for that.
Yours warmly, in Christ,
Chris Hobbs (Senior Minister)
15th March 2020