Following the park guide, I scribbled notes as he taught about the plants of the Bahamian primeval forest. He told us which trees to avoid. The poisonwood tree, he said, secretes a black sap that causes a painful, itchy rash. But not to worry! The antidote could usually be found growing right next it. “Cut into the red bark of the gum elemi tree,” he said, “and rub the sap on the rash. It will immediately begin to heal.”
I nearly dropped my pencil in astonishment. I hadn’t expected to find a picture of salvation in the forest. But in the gum elemi tree, I saw Jesus. He’s the ready remedy wherever the poison of sin is found. Like the red bark of that tree, the blood of Jesus brings healing.
The prophet Isaiah understood that humanity needed healing. The rash of sin had infected us. Isaiah promised that our healing would come through “a man of suffering” who would take our sickness upon Himself (Isaiah 53:3). That man was Jesus. We were sick, but Christ was willing to be wounded in our place. When we believe in Him, we are healed from the sickness of sin (v. 5). It may take a lifetime to learn to live as those who’re healed—to recognize our sins and to reject them in favor of our new identity—but because of Jesus, we can.