2 Kings 5:1-14:
1 Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the LORD had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy. 2 Now bands from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman's wife. 3 She said to her mistress, "If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy." 4 Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. 5 "By all means, go," the king of Aram replied. "I will send a letter to the king of Israel." So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing. 6 The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: "With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy." 7 As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, "Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!" 8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: "Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel." 9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha's house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, "Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed." 11 But Naaman went away angry and said, "I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn't I wash in them and be cleansed?" So he turned and went off in a rage. 13 Naaman's servants went to him and said, "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'!" 14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.
Elisha sent a messenger to say to Naaman, "Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed. vs. 10
It is flu season again and what a great amount of illness there is. Over the holidays there were so many people going to the emergency rooms at our hospitals that there were four hour waits to be seen by a physician.
When you are sick, there is little else that matters than getting well again. People will endure costly treatment and difficult side effects, paying any price for medicines to heal the body. How blessed we are with modern medicine which can repair a heart and transplant organs to prolong our lives for decades. We can only imagine what healing miracles will be discovered in the years ahead.
From this we can understand the Bible’s relating of the healing of Naaman. He was a Syrian general, a great and famous military man. But Naaman was not well. He had the dreaded skin disease called leprosy. When he heard of a prophet of God in Israel who could heal such diseases, he went to see Elisha the prophet.
In this healing God showed his love for all people. Naamon was healed of his disease. But even more important was the healing of his soul from sin, for he went back home speaking the name of the Lord God of Israel.
Today the gospel is going out to all nations in a powerful way also. Sometimes people in other countries first learn about Jesus from a medical missionary. In Africa, Lutheran World Relief workers teach people how to dig wells for clean water, and how to grow their own food, as well as provide health care. Ladies in churches throughout the United States sew quilts of used materials which are shipped to poor countries to keep people warm, all in the name of Jesus.
These and many other acts of love provide the opportunity to bring God’s healing to the souls of sinners as the Gospel of Jesus Christ is preached. It is surprising to learn that more countries have opened up to our missionaries in the last ten years than in the first one hundred years of our Synod. Today our missionaries are being sent to places like Russia, Asia, Africa, even to countries like Kyrgyszstan, a country in central Asia near China that is predominately Muslim. In Guinea, West Africa, we began mission work only six years ago. Today there are one hundred young congregations and preaching stations already.
In the Philippines, in the southern province of Mindanao, fourteen confessional Lutheran congregations recently formed a national church of our fellowship. Right now we have nearly 200 career missionaries serving around the world, and hundreds more volunteer and short-term missionaries. God is blessing this holy work because people are experiencing the healing power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Remember the last time you were sick, really ill, and you lay in your bed because your head was pounding and your body ached? How you longed for relief, to be well again. Then came the day when you were better, free from pain and able to go out again. You may have taken medicine, but it was God who made you well again. His power raised you up from your sickbed.
Such was the healing general Naaman received. But along the way he complained. The cure was too simple for him, to go an wash in the Jordan River. Why that old cattle stream? There were powerful rivers in his home country. What could a bath do anyway? No, he wanted something magical, the wave of Elisha’s hand or something.
But Naaman’s servants convinced him of the simple power of the God of Elisha. he washed in the Jordan and he was healed. His disease was cured. His flesh was clean and healthy again like that of a boy. Then Naaman confessed his new faith and said, "Now I know that there is no God in the world except in Israel."
The way God healed Naaman was simple: washing with water. The healing of our soul is simple also. How can the simple water of Baptism do such a thing for us? It is not simple water only, but the word of God in and with the water, and faith, which trusts such word of God in the water. Faith believes Jesus can heal the soul and the body. This is why we call Jesus the great physician. How man times he healed people--the blind, the lame, the palsied, those with withered hands. The woman with a flow of blood. The daughter of Jairus even raised from the dead. And who could forget Lazarus walking out of the grave after three days dead? Truly Jesus is the great physician.
Each Sunday in church we ask God to heal the sick. Sometimes God grants healing, other times not. But we must remember in this sinful world, all physical healing is temporary. Because we are all guilty of sin before God we all will die some day.
Jesus offers a greater healing which is permanent. He heals the soul from its disease of sin. By taking our sin upon himself, he heals us in a way beyond all other healing. Though the body may die, the soul remains, purified and kept with God in heaven. On the day that He has determined he will raise up this old body in a perfected state. Then we will never again face illness, pain, or disease. We will live with God, cleansed and healthy.
Some tablets claim relief for 6, 8, 12, even 24 hours. The gospel of Jesus is a simple cure, but it is the most powerful medicine because its effects last forever. What other medicine can make that claim?
As a pastor I visit many sick people. Some of them get well, but many do not. Sometimes I think how hard it must be to be a health care professional and loose so many people to death because their bodies just wear out or are consumed by disease. As a Christian there is nothing that compares to speaking the gospel to such a person because it heals the body and the soul. And God gives us the opportunity as believers to take this healing to the entire world, to whoever will receive it. Let us not pass this opportunity by, but boldly speak of his love to all those who fear death and disease. Let us not think only of our own comfort, but let us offer this medicine of immortality to the entire world in the name of Jesus, our savior.
Next Sunday I will tell you of what one congregation did to bring the healing of Jesus to the world. But for now let us give thanks to God for our own healing. Sickness, death, . . . it is not the end. Jesus Christ is the medicine of immortality for soul and body. Amen.
Copyright © 1998-2011 James F. Wright. All rights reserved.
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