3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.I wonder if there are better things we could fill our bag with than stones. Perhaps we would do well to leave the stones at home and instead fill a bag with the a tube of the balm of Gilead, a vile of the oil of healing, and a box of spikenard ointment.
The Balm of Gilead
The Bible Dictionary says this about the balm of Gilead:
An aromatic gum or spice used for healing wounds (Gen. 43:11; Jer. 8:22; 46:11; 51:8). A bush producing the resin from which the balm was made grew so plentifully in Gilead in Old Testament times that the balm came to be known as the “balm of Gilead” and was exported to Tyre and Egypt (Gen. 37:25; Ezek. 27:17).Elder Boyd K. Packer expanded on this definition when he said:
In ancient times there came from Gilead, beyond the Jordan, an ointment made from the gum of a tree. It was a major commodity in trade. The Ishmaelite traders who purchased Joseph from his brothers were carrying this balm of Gilead to Egypt (see Gen. 37:25). It became symbolic for the power to soothe and to heal.
There is a Balm in Gilead,
To make the wounded whole,
There is a Balm in Gilead,
To heal the sin sick soul.
(Boyd K. Packer, "Balm of Gilead", October 1987 LDS General Conference)By placing a tube of the balm of Gilead in our bag, we would be reminded to reach out and heal the physical and spiritual wounds of others as we journey on our daily path.
Oil of Healing
The next item to put in our bag could be concentrated olive oil. Like the balm of Gilead, this oil is used to bless and heal others. But it also has another purpose. Let's re-read James 5:14-15:
14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.President Brigham Young demonstrated his faith in the power of healing when he taught:
“When I lay hands on the sick, I expect the healing power and influence of God to pass through me to the patient, and the disease to give way. … When we are prepared, when we are holy vessels before the Lord, a stream of power from the Almighty can pass through the tabernacle of the administrator to the system of the patient, and the sick are made whole.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young (1997), 252Continuing on this theme, President Spencer W. Kimball adds some insight on the purpose of faith in both those that are doing the healing and those that are being healed. He said:
“The need of faith is often underestimated. The ill one and the family often seem to depend wholly on the power of the priesthood and the gift of healing that they hope the administering brethren may have, whereas the greater responsibility is with him who is blessed. … The major element is the faith of the individual when that person is conscious and accountable. ‘Thy faith hath made thee whole’ (Matthew 9:22) was repeated so often by the Master that it almost became a chorus.” [“President Kimball Speaks Out on Administration to the Sick,” Tambuli, Aug. 1982, 36–37; New Era, Oct. 1981, 47.]
The consecrated olive oil reminds us to have both the faith to heal, and the faith to be healed. The oil of healing will remind us that we can help develop greater faith in others.
Let's review the story of the spikenard ointment in Mark 14:3-8:
3 ¶ And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.
4 And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made?
5 For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her.
6 And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me.
7 For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.
8 She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying.The spikenard ointment can remind us to keep our priorities aligned with eternal perspectives. The phrase "She hath done what she could" reminds each of us that we have abilities, gifts, and talents that we can contribute to this great work. The spikenard ointment was what she had to offer. There are times when we need to step forward and offer our personal talents and abilities. When our perspective is aligned correctly we will know when it is time to open the precious oil of our personal offering.
Note that all of these oils and ointments are used to bless, heal, and help others. The stones are used to condemn and pass judgment. When we fill our bag each day with those things that will help bless the lives of others then we are prepared to show the love that is asked in the second great commandment, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Matthew 22:39)
Finally, I would like to conclude with a statement by President Thomas S. Monson:
"We cannot truly love God if we do not love our fellow travelers on this mortal journey. Likewise, we cannot fully love our fellowmen if we do not love God, the Father of us all. The Apostle John tells us, “This commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” We are all spirit children of our Heavenly Father and, as such, are brothers and sisters. As we keep this truth in mind, loving all of God’s children will become easier.
"Actually, love is the very essence of the gospel, and Jesus Christ is our Exemplar. His life was a legacy of love. The sick He healed; the downtrodden He lifted; the sinner He saved. At the end the angry mob took His life. And yet there rings from Golgotha’s hill the words: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”—a crowning expression in mortality of compassion and love."
"There are many attributes which are manifestations of love, such as kindness, patience, selflessness, understanding, and forgiveness. In all our associations, these and other such attributes will help make evident the love in our hearts. (Thomas S. Monson "Love-the Essence of the Gospel", April 2014 LDS General Conference)