IN PRAISE OF BELOVED PHYSICIANS, AGAIN

A Tribute to Doctors on the COVID-19 Front Lines

I first posted this paean to physicians some four years ago after my jaw transplant. It seemed fitting to resurrect it now to say thanks to the army of MDs fighting so bravely in the Coronavirus pandemic.

After all, it’s only fair having recently done the same for nurses. Where would we be without this devoted band of professionals putting their lives on the line day after day, night after night?

On discharge day after a week in the hospital for “Operation Robojaw,” one of my doctors made a point to visit me that Sunday morning. The moment I met the man two months earlier my heart attached fast to him.

Docgreen

We prayed together that morning–me for him and him for me. As soon as we finished, I immediately felt prompted to say this: I imagine you’re a lot like Dr. Luke must have been. Dr. Green deflected the praise, as I suspected he would. However, since then I’ve given a fair amount of thought to what makes for a beloved physician.

Mostly, Bible lovers think of Luke as a meticulous historian and second most prolific New Testament author after the apostle Paul. Without Colossians 4:14 we’d never suspect his medical credential–Luke the beloved physician greets you. That’s it. Not a whole lot to go on.

Still we can take away more than immediately meets the eye, if only we will ponder this verse and a few others which also reference Luke. As for Colossians 4:14, it helps to know a little of the original language and its syntax. Literally the verse reads: Greets you Luke the physician the beloved. Awkward. I get it. But informative. Paul puts the beloved last in the sentence for emphasis. Greek often does that. Word order matters. The word means “dearly loved, prized, valued.”

Paul considered Luke a prince. He treasured the man. Luke ranked high in his beloved category. Here’s my take on why:

One, Luke cared deeply and personally for others. All that oozes out of the word greet at the beginning of Colossians 4:14. It conveyed a great deal more sentiment than saying “hey” or “hello.” When someone used this greeting-from-a-distance formula common in the New Testament, he intended to say, If I were there I would greet you with one huge holy kiss (Rom. 16:16). I’ll wager Luke aced bedside manner class.

Two, Luke acted courageously and remained loyal to others. On death row in a Roman prison, Paul makes this astonishing statement in 2 Timothy 4:11–Luke alone is with me. Deserted by all others, Paul found comfort in his you-can’t-shake me-I’m-not-going-anywhere doctor, no matter what the costs. How true is this trait of our COVID-19 fighting professionals?!

Three, Luke concerned himself diligently and humbly not just for the bodies but also for the souls of others. Consider how he introduced his gospel in Luke 1:1-4:

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

Don’t you think Theophilus thanked his lucky stars for Luke’s historical writing of the good news of Jesus? Luke saw himself just as much an evangelist as a doctor (see also Acts 16:10). Luke is part of the “we” and “us” of that text.

docteam

Four, Luke valued and got along famously with a team of others in his ministry. Philemon 24 makes this clear: and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers. Above I’ve included an image of two more rock-star docs who cared for me in Miami. I forced them to strike this victory pose on discharge day. 

Gentlemen, this patient salutes you. You and every other doctor who has ever labored over my many ills are all beloved in my book. And that goes for you COVID-19 warriors as well! Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. They will have to answer to this pastor with a titanium jaw.

Question: What qualities have you enjoyed in a doctor or doctors which have made them beloved to you? You can leave your comment here.

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