There have been a ton of articles written about how to respond Christianly to the coronavirus, including my piece, “Why Does God Allow the Coronavirus? 4 Christian Insights.” Yet I have seen few on how Jesus would respond to the coronavirus.
I won’t pretend to know exactly what Jesus would do. After all, and quite obviously, there is no talk of the coronavirus in the Bible! Yet the four Gospels offer enough stories and teachings of Jesus for us to have a good idea of how he would encourage others to respond in our present moment.
1. Jesus would encourage people to weep at the suffering. Even though Jesus was divine, he was also human. We see his humanity on display at the death of Lazarus, whom Jesus loved dearly. Even though he would shortly heal him, Jesus weeps (John 11:35). He understood that pain, sickness, and death were counter to God’s intentions, and his heart was broken about how deeply his death affected Mary and Martha. Above all else, Jesus would encourage people to weep at the suffering inflicted by the coronavirus.
2. Jesus would encourage people to sacrifice for others. The entire Christian story is about Jesus laying down his life–as the ultimate sacrifice–for others. Jesus calls his disciples to do the same (Luke 9:23). In one of my favorite stories in the Bible, Jesus praises a widow for giving generously, even though it costs her greatly (Mark 12:41-44). Although her offering was less than the rich people, Jesus praised her for her sacrifice. Jesus would undoubtedly encourage people to respond with similar sacrifice in the face of the coronavirus today.
3. Jesus would encourage people to love their neighbors. In response to an expert in the law who pressed Jesus about the identity of his neighbor, Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). Rather the defining “neighbor” by where you live, Jesus defines a neighbor as one who has mercy on another, including an enemy. Unquestionably, Jesus would call people today to love their neighbors, which means anyone in need.
4. Jesus would encourage people to be compassionate. Jesus often healed simply by his word, but in the case of the leper, who had probably not been touched for years, Jesus demonstrated deep compassion by touching him (Mark 1:40-45). I can only fathom how meaningful the physical touch and the healing were to the leper. While Jesus would surely encourage people to practice social distancing, he would also encourage people to be compassionate to those who are hurting.
5. Jesus would encourage people to repent. In Luke 13:1-5, Jesus is presented with two different cases of evil. The first is about a group of Galileans murdered by Pilate, which is a kind of moral evil. The second is about eighteen people who die because a tower in Siloam fell on them, which is a kind of natural evil. Yet in both cases, Jesus calls his audience to repent. After clarifying that the suffering people were not worse sinners, Jesus says “I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” If you have sin in your life, and have not repented, Jesus would say that now is the time.