While they may agree about the facts of Jesus’ life, the authors of the four gospels have different interests and perspectives.
Matthew has a particular interest in Jewish concerns, Luke has a particular interest in Gentile concerns, etc.
But sometimes the differences between them come out in more personal ways.
Tuesday’s gospel reading contains a particularly striking illustration of that.
Mark on Doctors
Tuesday’s Gospel reading contains the passage from Mark 5 dealing with the woman with the flow of blood. You know, the one who is healed by sneaking up and touching Jesus’ clothing.
In Mark’s account of the event, we read:
And there was a woman who had had a flow of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse [Mark 5:25-26].
Physicians had caused this woman a lot of suffering, they took all her money, and she got worse rather than better.
Not a positive commentary on the medical profession.
The comment would have resonated with many people in Mark’s day, for the state of the medical profession was primitive.
Doctors might be well meaning, but they had nothing like the tools we do today.
Even just a few centuries ago, one physician (my memory fails me on precisely who) made the ironic statement that medicine amounts to making the patient comfortable while nature takes its course.
And even today there are many situations that are not treatable or not easily treatable. We’re only at the dawn of effective medicine (that is, if we don’t ruin the future course of medicine by making the development of new cures uneconomical).
A Matter of Perspective
While it wouldn’t be surprising for many patients in Mark’s day to share his outlook on doctors, there is one group that you could count on to have a significantly different perspective.