Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2016
Texts: Matthew 8; Leviticus 13:44-50; Daniel 7:7, 8; John 10:10; Matthew 9:1-8; 1 John 1:9
Modern medical science comes up with some pretty strange cures at times. Researchers trying to figure out how to fight unpleasant digestive conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease believe they have figured out how to partner with an unlikely ally: worms! They now think they've learned how worm-like parasites may actually help cultivate healthy intestines. The parasites assist by tending to "good" bacteria and crowding out the bad variety.
They also believe they have filled in one piece of the puzzle that's perplexed researchers for years: the hygiene hypothesis. These researchers subscribe to the idea that it's possible to be too clean for your own good. "Our findings are among the first to link parasites and bacteria to the origin of inflammatory bowel diseases, supporting the hygiene hypothesis," says research leader P'ng Loke, of New York University's Langone medical center.
For the past few years researchers have focused on helminths, a worm-like group of parasites. They looked closely at people living in rural regions of Malaysia where people are infected with the worms but don't suffer much from irritable bowel or Crohn's disease. "Our study could change how scientists and physicians think about treating IBD," said NYU microbiologist Ken Cadwell, who also worked on the study. "Patient testimonials and anecdotes lead many to think that the worms directly cure IBD,” by balancing out the ratio of good bacteria to bad bacteria.1
Just as it takes faith to allow physicians to infect a person with parasites to affect a cure for intestinal disease, it took faith for people to believe that Jesus could both forgive sins and heal diseases with just a word. This week’s lesson examines several stories of healing faith. One of the greatest examples of that faith came from one of the most hated men in Judea—a Roman centurion. When Jesus indicated His willingness to come raise the man’s servant, the officer replied, “Just say the word and my servant will be healed.”
Jesus sought to heal the whole person. Though Jesus could heal with just a word, He deliberately chose to touch the untouchables—the lepers. By the powerful significance of His physical touch, Jesus not only healed the physical condition, but He healed the social stigma borne by those afflicted with the malady.
The greatest healing, however, is not always restoration to physical health. Jesus’ main concern for the paralytic was his spiritual health. The first words Jesus spoke to the man were, “Your sins are forgiven.” Though modern science is coming up with creative ways to heal physical illness, only Jesus can restore our ailing relationship with God.
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