The Healing Balm of Gilead

Jesus went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. 14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.

15 And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him.16 And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

18 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 19 And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. 21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.” – Mark 2:13-23

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This beautiful flower was blooming at Kleb Woods when our photo club had an outing there. Photo taken September 2016

“Why are you doing that?” Her question startled me, and put me on my heels a bit. “Why am I doing what?” I asked. “That!” came the answer, “Why are you putting all that effort into writing down on paper what is on your computer screen, and available to you at any time?!?” Why indeed. There are good reasons.

  • By writing something down on paper you are more likely to remember it.
  • Having something on paper allows immediate access to that information whether or not you’re near a computer or smartphone.
  • Having something on paper allows you to carry it around in your pocket and refer to it in real time.
  • There’s just something about real paper, ink, and such old-school paraphernalia that sometimes we want to cling to.

On the other hand, sometimes that old school paraphernalia can just get in the way. You can always do math long-hand, on paper. But there are times when we need to use a spreadsheet. It’s more accurate, and more able to deal with multiple variables. I’m not certain you can do quantum physics or solve differential equations without a computer.

With Jesus, however, and the message of the gospel, the understanding of the rule and reign of Jesus in all of life it is not even an option to make do with the old ways and things. His is an entirely new and different approach to all of life. He didn’t come to the world in order simply to fix a clogged pipe, or repair a broken-down wall. He didn’t come to patch up things. He came to make them new.

Asking Jesus simply to put a bandage on our broken lives and rub some salve onto the surface of the world’s pain is not just selling Jesus short, but totally missing why he came. Jesus changes everything. A friend of mine once said, “Jesus felt around the edges of people’s lives until he found the cracks and fractures of their souls, and then he poured into them the balm of Gilead.” Those who embrace his healing mercy will not just look different on the outside; they will celebrate forever his healing balm.

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