Day 82: Matthew 9:28-30

Do you believe that I can heal you?…Let it happen, then, just as you believe!…Don’t tell this to anyone!

[Jesus left that place, and as he walked along, two blind men started following him. “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” they shouted. When Jesus had gone indoors, the two blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I can heal you?” “Yes, sir!” they answered. Then Jesus touched their eyes and said, “Let it happen, then, just as you believe!”— and their sight was restored. Jesus spoke sternly to them, “Don’t tell this to anyone!” But they left and spread the news about Jesus all over that part of the country.]

Jesus heals two blind men in this scripture.  Or does he?  Does he heal them with some divine magic or does he just try to teach them that they can heal themselves through their belief?

Here is an excerpt of a recent scientific article describing the “Placebo Effect”:

The Placebo Effect: Transforming Biology With Belief (July 21, 2013 by Arjun Walia) – http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/07/21/the-placebo-effect-transforming-biology-with-belief/

Did you know that we can change our biology simply by what we believe to be true? The placebo effect is defined as the measurable, observable, or felt improvement in health or behaviour not attributable to a medication or invasive treatment that has been administered. It suggests that one can treat various ailments by using the mind to heal. For example, if two people have a head ache and one takes Tylenol while the other is given a pill that contains nothing (sugar), both could report that the pill was successful and the headache is gone. The difference is, the one that was given the pill which contained nothing still believed that they were given a Tylenol that would alleviate their headache. In doing so, their headache was cured because of what they believed to be true. This has happened on numerous occasions, many studies have shown that the placebo effect is real and highly effective.

The placebo effect is so important in scientific research that new medications must always be tested against a control group who receive placebo (inert) pills.  Even though science does not understand the placebo effect, it is a universally recognized phenomenon that people’s health improves when they believe they will get well.

Placebo Effect: Harnessing Your Mind’s Power To Heal  (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/12/031231084101.htm)

Dec. 31, 2003 — It’s true that some people who participate in research studies and take inactive medications called placebos do see health improvements. People taking placebos have experienced reduced pain, healed ulcers, eased nausea and even warts disappeared.  The January issue of Mayo Clinic Women’s Health Source details several theories on how the placebo effect might work:

  • Benefit from attention: In a placebo-controlled research study, patients often have frequent and intensive medical attention. Some people respond favorably.
  • Stimulus response: People may have a trained positive response to taking a pill or receiving treatment, whether it’s real or not.
  • Beliefs or expectations, including the meaning you attach to a treatment: A person with positive expectations of the treatment may experience the placebo effect more than someone with lower expectations.
  • Relationship with your doctor: A person whose doctor is supportive and positive may experience more benefit from a placebo — or the standard treatment — than someone who doesn’t have that relationship.
  • Pleasing your doctor: You feel better because — consciously or unconsciously — you want to show your doctor that you’re a good patient and you appreciate the care.

Probably a combination of many psychological and physiological mechanisms are at work. Research studies and theories hold important clues to solve the mystery behind the placebo effect, but more research is needed to examine how these factors interplay to produce this healing force.

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Replace “doctor” with “Jesus” and “pill” with “prayer” you get an idea of what Jesus is trying to say when he tells people that their faith has made them well.  He is trying to explain the placebo effect to them.  He is trying to teach them about their own physiology, their own psychology, how their maker put them together.  He has divine knowledge about how God’s creation called the “human being” works, the kind of things that “modern” science is just now beginning to understand.

I do not think Jesus healed these guys to call attention to himself.  That’s pretty evident because he told them to keep quiet.  I think he was trying to teach them something about themselves, their bodies, their minds and their God.  He could probably see that they didn’t understand what had just happened to them and that they would instead glorify him.  They weren’t listening to what he said.  It was a teachable moment for the blind men but the lesson was wasted.  Instead they went out and spread the news about Jesus the Faith Healer with the Miracle Touch instead of spreading the news about how your faith can make you well; about how God has created within us a power to facilitate healing in ourselves and each other and that it is released through faith and hope.

There’s a lot that medical science doesn’t understand.  Interesting how Jesus seems to be a step ahead of them.  Divine knowledge for sure, straight from God himself.  It must have been frustrating to be Jesus, a person with knowledge that put him more than two thousand years ahead of his time.  It must have been hard when people wouldn’t listen what he had to say.  Let it happen, then, just as you believe. I’m very grateful to Matthew and others who wrote it all down so we can study and test it now in this day.  Hopefully we will learn to more effectively use what God has given us, the gift of faith being one of those things.

So does it matter whether our faith is in God, Jesus, doctors, or pills?  I think that biologically it probably doesn’t matter.  Any faith has a healing effect.  However, if our faith is in doctors or pills it’s elusive.  You don’t always have access to doctors, and pills can cause serious side effects.  In fact, both doctors and pills can kill you.  Jesus says he is just a Son of Man, an ordinary guy (See Day 74).  He gets irritated when we ask him to do things we should be doing ourselves (See Day 70).  But God is always around, he knows what we need, he doesn’t produce bad side effects, and is ultimately the source of all healing anyway.  So the best thing is to have faith in God.  Probably one day doctors will send us out with faith-building scriptures rather than pharmaceuticals.  That would be so cool.

What does this scripture say to you?

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One thought on “Day 82: Matthew 9:28-30

  1. this is really thought provoking. I hadn’t thought of this possibility. Jesus did say frequently….your faith has made you whole. I always assumed it meant Your faith in Me has made you whole. But that clearly is not what he said…..He just said, your faith….hmmm

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