Have the flu and viruses been around since Jesus’ earthly ministry? Were some that Jesus healed actually sick from the flu?
Have the flu and viruses been around since Jesus’ earthly ministry? Were some that Jesus healed actually sick from the flu? Pandemics of flu-like viruses have apparently been around even before the time of Jesus Christ. Perhaps some of the same kinds of viruses we have today may have been around during Jesus’ earthly ministry, or at least something very close to them. The realm of science was still uncertain about so many things in Christ’s time. For example, blood-letting used to be practiced as a way to cure people of their illnesses in the Middle Ages, but the Bible says, the life is in the blood (Lev 17:11), so we now know that they were wrong, but it is very possible that the influenza (flu) or viruses similar to it have been around for a very long time. Some civilizations had texts dating 2,400 years old that described influenza, or some other virus very similar to it. The first hard evidence of the virus came in 1580, beginning with Russia, and then sweeping through Western Europe, and later into Africa, so obviously, the flu or similar virus have been around since before the time of Christ, so it is clearly possible that the flu was around in Jesus’ days on earth. 
A Cursed World
When God gave ancient Israel His laws, there were consequences for obedience, but also consequences for disobedience. One example is where God say, “if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you” (Deut 28:15), so what kind of curses is God referring to? Read on. God says, “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people” (2 Chron. 7:13), we can be certain the nation is living in disobedience. So, what is a pestilence? A pestilence is frequently a fatal epidemic disease, very much like the bubonic plague, which became a pandemic. Another example is the flu pandemic that swept across the globe like a wildfire from 1918 to 1920, where the Spanish Flu took an estimated 50 million lives.
Today, historians have found this may have been a great underestimation, and that possibly over 100 million may have died from the Spanish Flu! Considering that there were about 1.8 billion people on the planet, the Spanish Flu has been about the deadliest pestilence since the Black Plague in the 14th century, and that was bad enough, killing about 50 million people and wiping out about 60% of Europe’s population. Even with all this morbid news today, God in His mercy says that “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14). Eventually, the ancient Jews turned away from God and fell into idolatry, and later, into captivity. Today, anyone that’s not a child of God is falling into the same kind of idolatry, but their idols are power, fame, the famous, the dollar, and self! Will it be for the nations today as it was with ancient Israel when the Lord struck them “with wasting disease and with fever, inflammation and fiery heat, and with drought and with blight and with mildew? They shall pursue you until you perish” (Deut 28:22).
When God disciplines His children, it’s done out of love and the same is true for the nations. God allows things to happen to bring them to humility and repentance; individually or nationally; sometimes both as in the Great Awakening. God has said in the past, and I believe He says today that “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14). If you look at the headlines today and read this next verse, it’s like you are reading about the curses mentioned in the Book of Chronicles. It’s almost like a wakeup call, because God promised that “The Lord will strike you with wasting disease and with fever, inflammation and fiery heat, and with drought and with blight and with mildew. They shall pursue you until you perish” (Deut 28:22).
God desires that everyone should “humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14), and not just nations. We know that God blesses without regard to national origin or skin color or any other reason. His common grace gives us all (the lost and the saved) sunshine, rain, soil, natural resources, and food, but He also allows curses to fall upon the nations which live in disobedience. Everyone reaps what they sow, so as a result, we are seeing more “wasting disease with fever, inflammation and fiery heat, and drought…” That sounds like very much like the pandemics, droughts, fires, and plant blight we’re facing today.
Did Jesus Heal Viruses?
Have the flu and viruses been around since Jesus’ earthly ministry? Were some that Jesus healed sick of the flu? It is possible, but we cannot speculate because the Bible often categorizes diseases, like leprosy, which was not always what we know is leprosy. The word “leprosy” was also used to describe various other skin diseases that are not specifically leprosy, but the flu or other viruses must have been around even in Jesus’ day, so it is possible some who were sick that were brought to him had the influenza, or some other virus. It didn’t matter to Jesus because “all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them” (Luke 4:40).
Historical evidence suggests that the influenza or other similar viruses have been around before Jesus’ earthly ministry, so it’s possible that some of those Jesus healed were healed of the influenza or other virus, but the greatest healing of all is that of having our sins removed by the blood of the Lamb of God. If you have never trusted in Jesus Christ, something infinitely worse than leprosy is coming…worse than any black plague or scourge you could ever imagine, so why not make today your day of salvation, while the time is still acceptable to God to be saved (2 Cor 6:2).
Here is some related reading for you: Did the Book of Chronicles Predict the Coronavirus and Locust Outbreak? 
Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.