2 Kings 5:11-14 - But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, "Behold, I thought that he [Elisha] would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the Name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?" So he turned and went away in a rage. But his servants came near and said to him, "My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, 'Wash, and be clean'?" So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
Naaman was the commander in chief of the Syrian king's army, and he was seeking God. Yet Naaman, with all his riches, fame, and might, was a leper, the victim of a physical scourge which consumes the flesh. He was not defeated by this dread disease, however. He had heard of the one true God through an unnamed Hebrew slave girl, so he went to visit the king of Israel for help.
In this venture Naaman was at first disappointed, as Israel's prophet Elisha would not come out to meet Naaman. Instead, Elisha sent a messenger, telling him to wash in the Jordan River seven times. Naaman was incensed at Elisha's refusal to meet him, as he had been taught to believe it necessary for some intermediary or priest to introduce him to the Lord and intercede especially for him.
The Syrian warrior had not discovered—as many to this day have not—how simple and straightforward faith in God is. We can personally approach God through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Naaman was disappointed because Elisha didn't perform any mysterious ceremonies to cure him of his leprosy. Wash in the Jordan? "Why Syria has rivers far superior to this!" he exclaimed.
Eventually, Naaman's own servants spoke the needed words of wisdom. "My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it?" And Naaman did do it, dipping himself in the Jordan seven times, "and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean." This simple action—not some elaborate ritual or feat of determination—healed the once-stricken Syrian.
When Naaman changed from doubt to devotion, when trust took the place of his hot passions—and this happens when we are born again in Jesus Christ—see how gloriously the Lord showed His power! And to us God says likewise to be washed, not seven times in the Jordan, but once in Holy Baptism, confessing our sins to Him and turning to the Savior who died and rose again for our free and full salvation.
WE PRAY: Heavenly Father, make us clean by the life-giving water of Your Word—Your Son—our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In His Name we pray. Amen.
From "The Simple, Saving Faith," a sermon excerpt from Rev. Dr. Walter A. Maier, the first Speaker of The Lutheran Hour
1. Do you find it easy or hard to go to God when you have a serious problem?
2. To become a leper in the ancient world was to be become an outcast. What does it say about Naaman that he was the commander in chief of the Syrian king's army?
3. How can we share the life-giving Good News of Jesus with those who are suffering physically or emotionally?
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