2 Kings 5:1-14
We heard the story of the healing of Naaman the Syrian. One way of approaching this or any Bible Story is to ask where you see God acting in this story, where you are in the story, and therefore where you might expect to see God working in your life.
It is easy to see God acting in this story. Naaman, the commander of the army of Aram – what we would call Syria – is a war hero, but he has leprosy. His wife’s slave-girl tells her mistress that Elisha, the prophet of God, would be able to cure him.
Naaman pulls strings and gets the King of Aram to send him to Israel with a huge amount of money and a letter to the King of Israel. The king thinks this is a trap – that the King of Aram is trying to find a reason to pick a fight, after all no-one can cure leprosy !
But Elisha knows that God can cure - even leprosy – even someone who is not from God’s people – even without the prophet of God leaving the house to see Naaman.
Elisha sends Naaman a message telling him to wash in the Jordan. After a bit of a tantrum, Naaman does that, and God cures him. His skin is like that of a young child again.
God cures absolutely.
We could just stop there, with praise for the God who cares and who cures.
But this is our God.. in some way this is our story.. so where are you in the story?
You might relate to Naaman.
Of course we don’t know what Naaman looked like, or hear much about his personality, but we know he is the commander of the army, he must have had an authoritative presence - and yet he was ill with leprosy, which could have led to him being isolated by others who feared his disease. Maybe you feel like Naaman - perhaps to the outside word you are strong or successful, but you know you have a deep need.
It may be physical, like leprosy, something visible to others, or it may be internal, hidden, an illness or a flaw
no-one can see, or a mental or spiritual problem that only you know about. But you know you need healing. You need God’s healing.
The good news is that you don’t need riches or a letter from the Queen, or even mystical waters to bathe in to receive God’s healing. It’s very simple.
Elisha sends Naaman to the waters of the Jordan.
Back in March I was fortunate enough to see the River Jordan for myself.
It isn’t hugely impressive, to be honest, though the part where I went is very popular with Pilgrims who buy special baptismal robes to go into the water & completely immerse themselves in something that looks a bit like weak tea.
I’m afraid I wimped out, rolled up my trousers & just stood with the water coming up near my knees. It’s not very inviting water – it’s really not an impressive river at all.
I can imagine why Naaman was put out. ‘Go and wash in the Jordan’ was the message from Elisha.
He wanted to say ‘is that all?’.
You might feel the same, if you feel like Naaman in this story. You need God’s healing. And in Jesus, God says ’your faith can make you well – get up and go on your way’ – is that all ?
A simple prayer, a brief moment, can be all we need to access God’s healing in our lives.
Or talking to the person God send to us, or benefitting from medical services.
The God of Elisha longs to heal you, as he did Naaman, through his power and also through other people.
You might relate to Elisha in the story.
Perhaps you know what your ministry is, how you are called to serve God. You are here on this earth to do what God tells you to do and to say what God tells you to say. You might stop short of calling yourself a prophet – but a prophet is someone God uses to talk to his people, someone who speaks out about the God who made all things and who loves us all things and who wants to save all things.
When we tell someone how we thank God for something in our lives, we are being a prophet, we are pointing to the God to whom we give gratitude for everything in life. When we are giving advice to someone and we help them to consider what God wants them to do, we are being a prophet – remembering the God who gives our lives purpose and meaning. When we agree to be any work on behalf of the church, we are being prophets, showing that we are listening for what God is calling us to be and do, and responding by offering ourselves in God’s service.
And if you are a prophet, you need to be a prophet like Elisha.
Did you notice what Naaman expected of the prophet?
“I thought that for me he would surely come out, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and would wave his hand over the spot, and cure the leprosy!”.
Naaman expected a spectacle, a show. If this was a person of God surely they would bring a bit of drama to the act of healing? But a real prophet, someone who really is speaking out on behalf of God, doesn’t have to be showy – they just have to be faithful. God tells Elisha to tell Naaman to bathe in the Jordan – Elisha just passes on the message – the glory belongs to God, not to Elisha. When we are faithful prophets we point to what God is doing and don’t seek glory for ourselves.
Or perhaps you think you are just too insignificant to figure in an amazing story like this. Your life is very ordinary – not a bit like a Biblical epic! – but there is a part for you in this story too. Hidden away in this story are some unnamed people without whom the healing would never have happened.
Of course there’s Naaman, the big war hero, who is healed, there are the kings of Aram & Israel, with their commands and riches, there is Elisha, the great prophet..
but the whole story only starts because a girl whose been carried off as a slave tells her mistress that there is an amazing prophet in Israel, who can cure Naaman.
She may be small and we don’t even learn her name, but she is the vital spark for this story of healing.
And when the great Naaman is about to storm off in disgust because Elisha hasn’t impressed him and the river Jordan looks feeble in comparison to the great rivers back home, it is his servants then who say “if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it?”.. and encourage him to wash as the prophet has instructed.
Without the slave-girl, without the servants, Naaman would have remained a leper. If you think you are ‘only’ an un-noticed, unimportant part of this or any story, take heart. Your name may not go down in history, but you might just change someone’s life for ever by being faithfully in the right place at the right time and speaking out as God leads you.
We are worshipping as God’s chosen people today:
Chosen, like Naaman, to receive healing
Chosen, like Elisha, to give the glory to God and not ourselves
Chosen, like the servants, to be faithful in speaking out , wherever we are, not because we are great, but because we serve a great God.
You are chosen, and this day God will bless you
In the name of Jesus. Amen.