Buddy Scott of buddyscott.com © 2000 ALLON PUBLISHING
Peter Jennings planted doubt about so many biblical truths about Jesus in his ABC News Special, The Search for Jesus, that I was intrigued that he lightened up a bit when it came to the healing miracles of Jesus. He cast some doubt; but for the most part, he allowed their authenticity to stand.
That's wonderful since with the healing miracles of Jesus I can rebuild what Jennings categorized as fabrication, embellishment, and fiction. But first, this...
To me, the Jewish scholar from Boston University who served on Jennings's panel of scholars, Paula Fredriksen, was the most careful, objective, and balanced of his guests, even above that of the unconventional Christian scholars.
She observed, "People are coming to Him (Jesus) in order to have demons driven away and in order to be cured of illness. And while He's doing this, He says something like, 'You see what's happening? The blind see! The lame walk! This means that the Kingdom of God is occurring, it's about to break in.'"
Jennings asked her, "So did people believe Jesus particularly because of His healings?"
Fredriksen responded, "Oh, imagine yourself in the crowd. If somebody who had suffered from blindness could suddenly see, how would you feel about what He (Jesus) was saying?" (Note: The capitalizations of the pronouns for Jesus were supplied by this writer.)
Jennings introduced the subject of Jesus' healing miracles with, "The reason scholars believe that Jesus was able to heal people in some cases is that doctors believe it." Notice the phrase "in some cases" and notice in the following interview that Jennings tended to detract from the magnitude of the miracles.
Jennings introduced Patrick Whelan, M.D., Harvard Medical School, and included an excerpt from an interview with him. The excerpt seems fine at first glance. Then you realize that Jennings and his producers used it to imply that Jesus was healing psychosomatic illnesses, not actual diseases. Jesus was merely removing the psychological anxieties that caused the illnesses. And as a by-product of clearing up the erroneous thinking, the "diseases" disappeared.
Here is the excerpt he used from Whelan:
In my field, which is rheumatology, aches and pains, a large dimension of dealing with these problems is the psychiatric dimension. Somebody comes into the doctor and oftentimes we can't do anything but reassure them that this will not get worse, this will not threaten your life. And then their suffering is immensely eased by that, by depriving them of the anxiety and the fear component of the pain, and their pain is easier to bear.
You'll remember that I phoned Dr. Whelan and spoke with him about the ABC News Special. He said he felt Jennings had been respectful in the manner in which he had conducted himself on the broadcast.
In addition to what I have already written, I queried him, "I'm sure you had more to say than was used in The Search for Jesus. I'd like to know what else you said."
The woman who interviewed me on behalf of Jennings in 1997 said that it seems that in the Gospels that there are numerous miracles that Jesus performed which deal with health conditions for which we still don't have very good treatments, and she wondered if there are anything doctors today could learn from Jesus, not inspirationally but rather practically. Are there any treatment secrets in the Gospels that the doctors have failed to pick up on that we could learn from Jesus since He was clearly so successful in treating many conditions that doctors still don't have a good handle on?
He told me that he answered:
At the very least, there are a couple of very important lessons that Jesus teaches doctors today. The average male doctor in the United States spends four minutes with his patients which is not enough time to deal with the psychosocial elements of the disease...so much of the pain experience is the anxiety that people feel. There's just no doubt about it. And most doctors just don't have the time or take the time to deal with that element of the suffering that people have. So my feeling is that if you can spend that time with people and deal with the anxiety element, then you significantly reduce their pain experience. So I was just drawing on the numerous instances in Luke's Gospel where Jesus tells people not to fear. "Fear not."
And the other element that struck me when I had an opportunity to reread all the Gospels during that trip (to Israel) was how touch was such a universal theme in all the health miracles. Jesus was constantly reaching out and touching people. This is a tremendous flub doctors have today. They are so time limited that oftentimes they don't even examine their patients. And this is a reason why chiropractors are so popular. The essence of the chiropractic visit is the laying on of hands, the touch element.
I can't help but imagine that in that day and age people must have lived in terror day after day that they wouldn't be alive the following week, there was so much disease everywhere, and the fact that these stories are so pervasive in the Scripture suggests that Jesus must have had some extraordinary abilities that no one else had.
I observed, "You are telling me that you believe in the miracles of Jesus as they are written in the New Testament."
"I don't have any reason to doubt them," he affirmed.
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