God Heals Naaman’s Leprosy
The text for today’s
sermon is 2 Kings 5:1-14. Pastor Jim
Kniseley presented this sermon at Resurrection on
Dear Friends in Christ,
The appointed Old Testament lesson for today seemed so long that I decided to simply tell you the story as part of my sermon. Confirmation students, the Bible verses for this sermon are 2 Kings: 5:1-14.
This story is a healing story. It took place about 800 years before Jesus’ life on earth. Naaman, the principle character of our story, had a bad illness. It was leprosy. Today we call it Hansen’s Disease and it can be mostly controlled by medicine. But back in Bible’s days it was bad in so many ways. It led to physical deformity and fingers and toes eventually withering away. But worse was how you were treated by others. It was assumed that God was mad at you and so had sent this curse upon you. People stayed away from you, you were declared ritually unclean, and you were excluded from all religious services. In other words, you were treated as if you didn’t exist.
didn’t live in
his household is a servant girl who had been captured in a raid upon
is told by the king in
Naaman’s reaction? He was incensed. How dare this prophet not come out and speak to me directly? Why is he asking me to wash in that dirty river? The rivers back home are cleaner and bigger.
Fortunately, there was a trusted servant in his retinue who gave him some advice: “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he tells you, ‘wash and be cleansed.’ The Bible tells us that Naaman went down and dipped himself seven times in the River Jordan and he was healed completely.
Friends in Christ, Naaman’s story is a good story for us to hear today at Resurrection, when we offer the opportunity to come to the altar rail for healing prayer and anointing with oil. Some in our midst have Naaman-like tendencies. We don’t like to admit our need for God’s help, we think we will look silly doing something in public that might seem silly, and we need also to learn to trust in God’s promises.
There are some Bible Study Principles that we highlight today from hearing the Story of Naaman. You’ll be hearing more about these principles during Lent when we as a congregation get serious about reading our Bibles. The first principle we encounter today is that God’s grace and good news are found in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. Some churches are very proud so say that they only read from the New Testament in their worship services. But Lutherans historically have read from both the Old and the New Testaments to emphasize this continuity of God’s work and purpose throughout the ages.
Another principle of Bible study we encounter today is this: the Old Testament points to Jesus. The power of Jesus to heal the leper is the same power of God that cured Naaman.
The third principle of Bible study I would lift up is the principle of expectancy. When we read the Bible we expect to encounter God. We expect the Bible to reveal Christ to us. By extension, when God’s people come together in worship, we expect to meet Jesus here, we expect to be encountered by Jesus in Holy Communion and in the Reading of Scripture and in the Sermons and in the Prayers and in the Hymns and at Altar Rail.
I have an encouragement for all of us today at worship. It has to do with what we will do when we leave this place. It is what Naaman and the leper healed by Jesus did. They each went out and proclaimed it freely that God’s power had healed them. Today, please, tell someone the good news that you have received this day.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.