17 When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” – Mark 2
A tale is told of a great doctor who opened a practice. He was a phenomenal healer, and treated his patients with such love, they often came to the office to spend time with him even when they weren’t sick.
The patients told their friends how great the doctor was. Soon the practice grew, and there was love shown not only by the doctor, but by the patients to one another. In the waiting rooms people talked excitedly, drawn together by a mutual love for the doctor.
After a while, the number of people who came to the doctor’s office when they weren’t sick grew so much that the doctor’s office was crowded all the time. One person brought in a coffee pot. Another brought doughnuts. The patients started scheduling regular times to come together, so great was their desire to see one another.
As the people drew closer to one another, a peculiar thing happened. Even when a person came in with a cough, they didn’t ask to see the doctor. One man came in bleeding from a cut in his arm, but he had patched it himself and thought it would be okay. He didn’t see the doctor either. Mostly, the sick would hide the fact that they weren’t feeling well and continue talking to their friends in the waiting room.
Occasionally, someone would go see the doctor. A few of the patients still went to him with every little thing, but they were the exception. Nearly everyone else decided that they could deal with their injuries and sicknesses on their own.
They still talked to one another about being sick. They were, after all, in a doctor’s office. “How great it is that we have a doctor, to heal those who need it,” said one man. His voice was raspy because he had come in with strep throat, but he told everyone that he had just been yelling too much at a ballgame.
“Yes. If only everyone knew how great this doctor was. This is the greatest place on earth!” said a woman who was wearing a hat to hide a head injury.
The little doctor’s office was soon too small to hold everyone who was coming. A group of the patients put together a plan, told the others about it, and raised the money to make the office bigger. “Give money to the doctor!” they said. “We can heal so many more people if we have a bigger waiting room!” They added a wing just for children to play in. They put in a real coffee bar so that one person didn’t have to keep bringing their own coffee pot.
Still more people came. The people were so warm and welcoming, they created a place where others enjoyed coming. They decorated the doctor’s office with beautiful paintings. They put televisions up on the wall that played videos of people saying how great it was to be in the office together, because that office really felt like family.
Then came the day that a man came in who was dying. He was badly injured, and could barely walk. Some of his wounds were old, and because he had never tended them, they were seriously infected. He was coughing and spitting up blood.
The woman at the coffee bar saw him first. It was hard to miss him, he practically fell over on the mahogany counter. She recoiled, horrified, and shouted for someone to come help.
Several people ran to her. When they saw the man bleeding on the countertop, a couple of them grabbed him and laid him on the floor. As he curled up in pain, they collectively winced. “What do we do?” asked one of them. “He’s coughing up blood. He’s in terrible shape. He might be contagious!”
“He’s going to scare the children. They don’t need to see someone like that.”
The leadership huddled up and made a decision. For the good of everyone in the building, the man must be turned out. A few people found masks and gloves in the doctor’s old storage room, put them on and carried the man out.
The doctor saw what had happened. He went to the man lying on the sidewalk in front of his office and tended his wounds. The people in the office were singing a song led by one of their most talented musicians when he walked past them to get some clean gauze and a first aid kit. No one noticed when he left with supplies in hand. When the doctor lifted the man up in his strong arms and carried him away, the people inside were too involved in playing a game together to help.
The doctor didn’t return for some time. On a rainy spring afternoon a few weeks later, the door opened slowly and the physician entered. He brushed the rain off his shoulders and looked around at the custom woodwork that had been done in his office. He paused at one of the television monitors telling stories of his greatness. He sat down in a chair near a giant painting of people hugging one another, opposite a small group of people who were laughing and having a discussion. A young lady from the group noticed him and walked over with a smile.
“Hi there, are you new?” she asked cheerily.
The doctor looked at her in puzzlement. “No, I’m not new. I’ve been here before.”
“Have you heard about the great programs we have?”
“I know a bit about them, yes.”
“Oh great. Well, if there’s anything I can do, just let me know!” and she bounced back to the group.
The doctor sat for another moment, watching the group. He knew them all. He had treated some of them. Now, talking over the plot of a movie they all loved, they didn’t seem to notice him. He rose from the chair and turned back to the hallway which led to his exam room.