Transcript WASH

O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people
who call upon you, and grant that they may know
and understand what things they ought to do, and
also may have grace and power faithfully to
accomplish them; through Jesus Christ, Amen.
(Book of Common Prayer)
Spoken by the prophet Elisha in the mid-800’s B.C.E.,
to an Aramean military officer:
…WASH yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your
flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.
2 Kings 5: 10 Search: “Aram”
• = Syria
• When Abraham sent his servant “home” to find
a suitable bride for Isaac, the man went to
Aram. (Genesis 24)
• However, there is fierce conflict between the
two nations through most of Biblical history.
• For example, Naaman, our main character, has
recently led a successful raiding party against
Israel, capturing a young Hebrew girl who is
now a slave in his household.
• The relationship between Aram and Israel is
complicated, at best.
Naaman - 2 Kings 5:1-15
“Naaman was handsome, rich and highly
respected. But he was sick with a dreadful
disease – leprosy. More than anything this
general in the Syrian army wanted to be healed.
You would think he’d be willing to do anything
toward that end, wouldn’t you?
It turns out Naaman was like a lot of us, though,
desperately wanting what God can give us, but
only on our own terms.”
(LSM, Kindle 1263)
From his Hebrew slave, Naaman learns of a
prophet in the Samaritan region of Israel who
can heal him. But it is complicated to go ask
for help from someone in a country you have
been raiding!
First, Naaman goes through diplomatic
channels. He approaches his king, who gives
him a letter of introduction to the king of
Second, he assembles an impressive hostess
2 Kings 5:5 “So he went off, taking with him
about 750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of
gold, and ten sets of clothes.”
Even these gifts do not buy him what he wants.
2K 5:6-7 Naaman delivered the letter to the
king of Israel. The letter read, “When you get
this letter, you’ll know that I’ve personally sent
my servant Naaman to you; heal him of his
skin disease.”
When the king of Israel read the letter, he was
terribly upset, ripping his robe to pieces. He
said, “Am I a god with the power to bring
death or life that I get orders to heal this man
from his disease? What’s going on here? That
king’s trying to pick a fight, that’s what!”
8-9 Elisha, the man of God, heard what had
happened, that the king of Israel was so
distressed that he’d ripped his robe to shreds.
He sent word to the king, “Why are you so
upset, ripping your robe like this? Send him to
me so he’ll learn that there’s a prophet in
So Naaman with his horses and chariots
arrived in style and stopped at Elisha’s door.
10 Elisha sent out a servant to meet him with
this message: “Go to the River Jordan and
immerse yourself seven times. Your skin will
be healed and you’ll be as good as new.”
11-12 Naaman lost his temper. He turned on
his heel saying, “I thought he’d personally
come out and meet me, call on the name of
God, wave his hand over the diseased spot,
and get rid of the disease.
The Damascus rivers, Abana and Pharpar, are
cleaner by far than any of the rivers in Israel.
Why not bathe in them? I’d at least get clean.”
He stomped off, mad as a hornet.
“It turns out Naaman was like a lot of us,
desperately wanting what God can give us,
but only on our own terms.”
Elisha does not acknowledge Naaman’s power.
He does not accept Naaman’s money, before
or after the miracle.
Elisha doesn’t even come in person!
Bruce Larson:
“Do you want to be right? Or do you want to
be well?”
13 (Naaman’s) servants caught up with him
and said, “Father, if the prophet had asked you
to do something hard and heroic, wouldn’t
you have done it? So why not this simple
‘wash and be clean’?”
14 So he did it. He went down and immersed
himself in the Jordan seven times, following
the orders of the Holy Man. His skin was
healed; it was like the skin of a little baby. He
was as good as new.
He then went back to the Holy Man, he and
his entourage, stood before him, and said, “I
now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that
there is no God anywhere on earth other than
the God of Israel.”
So, who are you in this story?
Naaman, desperately in need of healing?
The King of Israel, unnecessarily despairing
because you cannot do something that was
never yours to do in the first place?
Naaman, insisting on the hard and heroic
when offered the simple and direct?
Who do feel challenged to become?
Elisha, resisting grandiosity while remaining
Naaman’s servants, daring to speak truth to
Naaman, willing to try the simple when
powerful and expensive solutions fail?
Or best of all, perhaps, the slave girl,
generously offering help and hope even to
those who harm you?
To Your cross, O Lord, we come for healing, for You
alone can make us whole.
We come with the broken-hearted and brokenspirited, for You alone can make us whole.
We come with those with broken relationships, for
You alone can make us whole.
We come with the broken in body or in mind, for You
alone can make us whole.
We come with the weak and the handicapped, for
You alone can make us whole.
We come with the sinners and the guilty, for You
alone can make us whole. Amen.
(LCM, Kindle Locations 1343-1347)