[Image: Althea, 2010, JA Van Devender]
Location: Hattiesburg, MS
Song of Solomon 2:1 (NKJV)
2 I am the rose of Sharon, And the lily of the valleys.
I stand ready to be corrected but I think this flower is an Althea, commonly known down South as a "Rose of Sharon." I have no clue why that name was associated with the Althea plant but I find it interesting that "althea" derives from an ancient Greek term for "healing." A member of the "mallow" family, these plants have been used for various medicinal and cosmetic purposes (improving the skin in various potion forms) since ancient times.
The words from the Song of Solomon quoted above have traditionally been ascribed to the Person of Christ, both in anticipation by the ancient Israelites and in reflection by the Christian Church since the New Testament. Whether the Rose of Sharon in ancient times was the same plant as this one is another bare data point of which I am not certain, but it doesn't really matter. The point intended is that beauty is ascribed to the individual and, implicitly, a special type of beauty.
Our Christ is indeed a Beautiful Healer. In the times of His flesh the prophet Isaiah said that His physical appearance was such that we would say he was "nothing special." The word "beautiful" would not apply to His stature and presentation. He was such that we would "take no account of Him." But that was not the case on the Mount of Transfiguration where His externals, for a few brief moments, took on the dazzling glory of eternity. His resurrection body also, although still reflecting His pre-cross character, was yet again transformed into radiant and compelling "beauty." Now our Christ, as pictured in Revelation, is of such appearance that the eye simply cannot be taken away from Him. He compels our attention... focuses our vision.... centers our thoughts. The beauty of the Rose of Sharon, its delicate texture but substantial form has something of this in it.
And this beautiful Christ is indeed our Healer. Life and light are His to give and in abundant measure. This is no miserly dispenser of precious goods. This Person is the River of Life flowing from the Throne of God which causes the trees on each side to bring forth fruit for "the healing of the nations" (Rev. 21:2). The ministry of reconciliation, of the tearing down of walls separating races, tribes, national boundaries and other such artificial and selfish pride inducing distinctions is accomplished through the changing of hearts... the healing of hurts that brings forgiveness... the imparting of vision such that sin-blinded eyes can behold not only the King and His Kingdom but also those others who belong to it. The healing extends to even the deepest recesses of the human soul, transforming the desires that flow out of it and orienting and elevating the resulting thoughts, conversation and actions. True humanity, completed humanity, no longer is viewed as a "pipe-dream" but is rather the conscious goal of life as the healed soul aspires to be conformed to the image of this Beautiful Healer. "I am His and He is mine" is the cry of the beloved and that spontaneous and pure profession of faith comes forth not of the individual's own origin but, as with Peter, flows from that same River of Life.
The althea flower can be viewed as an object, in a detached and distant manner, and its beauty appreciated from that same perspective. Never can this be said of the true Rose of Sharon. He is always viewed in relation. He cannot be apprehended except as the One Who Heals Those Who Require Healing... the One Who Saves Those Who Require Saving... as MY Lord... My God ... and the God of His People Israel (the Church). One either sees Him and admires Him in relation or one does not see Him at all, but rather is viewing only a caricature, a figment of the imagination, an idol of the heart.
Such is our Risen Rose... such is our Christ, our Beautiful Healer.