Lenten Hymns and Their Story

February 28, 2023

“Jesus, Grant that Balm and Healing”

This hymn by Johan Hermann [1585-1647] was first published in six verses in 1644 under the heading “Consolation from Jesus in all Manner of Temptation.”  This focus, a Lutheran treasure, is resistance to temptation, with the comfort of the Gospel given to Christians in the midst of temptations of all sorts.  Because Christ bore our sins and griefs in His body on the cross, and was there wounded for our transgressions, we are healed by His suffering and by the scourging He endured on our behalf [Isaiah 53:5 / 1st Peter 2:24].  
Verse 1 confronts temptations that arise within the sinful heart and fallen flesh, the second verse sets itself against the assaults of Satan.  Here, the hymn implicitly recalls the temptation of Christ, as heard on the 1st Sunday in Lent.  We are able to resist the devil, and he flees from us, because Christ confronted Him and conquered him on our behalf.
Verse 2 reminds us that, as Christ resisted and thwarted the devil’s temptations by relying on the Word of God, so does the Lord provide the way of escape for us through His Word [1st Corinthians 10:13].  We wield the sword of the spirit by confessing the Word of the Gospel [Ephesians 6:11, 17].  
Verse 3 turns our attention to the enticements and seductions of the sinful world.  In contrast to the many who follow the path of perdition, the hymn directs us to consider Him who willingly suffered for us.  Rather then consenting the enticement of sinners, we lay hold of Christ and His Spirit through the Word of the Gospel, as humbly meditate upon it and in faith pray for His help and strength.
When the devil and the world are unable to entice us with these deceptive vices, they shift their attack to bodily persecution and the accusations of the Law against our conscience.  Verse 4 tells us of the comfort that He thereby imparts “renders sweet” the trials and tribulations we Christians face in this world.
The special focus of the hymn brings to mind Thomas and the other Apostles, who were brought from doubting unbelief to confident faith and the joyful confession of Christ by the testimony of His wounded hands and side [John 20:24-28].  

Jesus, grant that balm and healing in Your holy wounds I find,
Ev’ry hour that I am feeling pains of body and of mind.
Should some evil thought within tempt my treach’rous heart to sin,
Show the peril, and from sinning keep me from its first beginning.

LSB 421

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