Jeremiah lamented Judah’s national sins by asking, is there no balm in Gilead? He suggested that Egypt go up to Gilead and obtain balm for healing of their national sins. We too need healing for national and personal problems. Does the Church have an answer?
Let’s understand why we and our nation need the healing touch of Jesus.
We will first look at Mark 5:21-43 and see how it applies to us.
21 When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. 22 Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus [Yairos] came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet 23 and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” 24 So he went with him.
And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. 25 Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. 26 She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” 29 Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 He looked all around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
35 While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37 He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. 38 When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. 43 He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
The Woman with the Issue
One his way to heal Jairus’ daughter, a woman reached out to touch Jesus. She suffered bleeding. She had spent all she had on doctors but they could not help her. Old Testament health laws included not touching someone with bodily discharges. The word for this quarantine was “unclean.” It would have been a violation for her to touch Jesus as she did, but she did so in faith believing that as soon as she did, she would be no longer unclean. Some of us have what we call germophobia, and so we constantly clean our hands and some even overuse antiseptic fluids rather than risk sickness. In ancient Israel some observant Jews were as fastidious as our germaphobes about not touching any unclean thing. Jesus showed no such fear of disease but readily touched the sick to heal them.
The Healing Touch
When pastors baptize someone they lay their hands on them. It is a sacrament, whereby a spiritual blessing accompanies a physical act. God saves our unclean souls, the most important healing of our lives. Eternity is imparted to our mortal lives. James instructed that oil be used in a healing ceremony with the laying on of hands. It reminds us of the hands laid on us when we were baptized. It also reminds us of the hands of Jesus which touched the sick to make them well. What is the greatest sickness in our land? Is it heart disease, cancer or something else. Could our greatest personal and national sickness be sin? Could it just be that the real answer to our national ills is not in legislation or finances or military might, but in the healing touch of Jesus?
Quarantine and Segregation
Quarantine separates people. In the Old Testament it was the clean and unclean laws. Quarantine is segregation. Sometimes quarantine or segregation is right, such as for medical reasons or criminal activity. Sometimes it is bad, such as that based on race, social class, or other bigotries. Jesus called the woman who touched him daughter. Rather than being repulsed by her unclean touch, he immediately broke through the barriers that segregated them and used a very friendly term. Unlike the disciples in the boat who were saved by Jesus apart from their faith, this woman was healed because of her faith. She desired healing. He desired a personal relationship. How can we bring the healing of Jesus to others? Should we begin by establishing better relationships with our neighbors? Should we begin by asking Jesus to heal broken relationships?
The Woman’s Fear
If the woman with the issue had faith enough to be healed, why was it also mixed with fear? Mark 5:33 says she was trembling with fear when she was forced to admit that it was her who touched Jesus. Was it because she broke the rules of unclean people being quarantined? Was it because on her way to be saved from her sickness, she probably also touched many other people in the crowd? Are there social taboos that we willing to risk breaking on our way to be saved by Jesus? Being healed and saved are often the same word in the original Bible languages. Is there something here that also explains our fear of coming out of the closet as Christians? Like the woman, we came to touch Jesus. Why are we afraid of what others think?
Jesus was Glad she Came
When our lives are broken, we are often reluctant to go to church. Some people don’t attend because they have either experienced judgmentalism or are so ashamed that they avoid people altogether. Some of us don’t like people, perhaps because people say hurtful things and life has wounded us so deeply that we avoid the possibility of more pain. Perhaps the reason is that we are so ashamed of our lives and afraid that others will judge us. Perhaps that is why the woman with the hemorrhage approached Jesus secretly. Her covert approach did not bring condemnation from Jesus. Rather, he commended her for her faith in coming (Mark 5:34). Let us not be concerned whether or not we are wearing the right clothes, don’t feel like smiling, or that God might judge us. Our Lord is glad that we came for the healing touch of Jesus.
Why did Jesus also tell the leader of the synagogue, do not fear, only believe (Mark 5:36)? Was it because his daughter had died or that he was bothering Jesus or perhaps the commotion would cause embarrassment? It could have been all of these and more, but verse 35 seems to indicate that people from his house had suggested that he not bother Jesus, because the little girl was already dead. What about us? Do we live in fear of bothering God? Do we believe that it is too late for God to help us? Is that why God’s people do not pray enough? We should understand that God is never bothered by his children coming to him for any help. And with God it is never too late. Even death is not the end of possibilities with God.
The Messianic Secret
Jesus wants his miracles kept a messianic secret (Mark 5:43). Jesus never tells anyone to keep his death and resurrection secret, only his miracles. Do some contradict how Jesus wants evangelists to preach? Evangelists are to be bringers of the good news. The evangel, good news or Gospel is called various things in the Bible: the gospel of the kingdom, the gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel of the grace of God, the gospel of God, the gospel of peace and the gospel of your salvation. Could it be that a gospel of miracles is the wrong focus, because it turns Jesus into a mere miracle maker and demeans his example of suffering? Could it be that a focus on miracles would diminish our calling to follow Jesus’ example of being willing to suffer in order to bless others?
Countries Sick & Hemorrhaging
America is like the little girl and the hemorrhaging woman. Our finances have been bleeding for many years. Even our most educated doctors have not be able to heal us. We have spent all that we have and instead of getting better we have only gotten worse. Some people have even believed that America is dead. Why bother with Jesus! Like the synagogue leader’s little girl, America is in many ways still young. Europe and China are old civilizations. We are like a young child, but our dream of freedom is as ancient as the Exodus. Though the church’s message has been weak and mixed with false gospels, we have heard about Jesus. Will we grab a hold of his cloak and openly invite Jesus into our homes to heal our land? Will we seek the healing touch of Jesus?
There IS a balm in Gilead. It can be found in the Church. That healing balm for you and me, for the Church and for the nation is the healing touch of Jesus.
Bible Quotes: New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.