Monday after the Twelfth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: 2 Kings 5:9-27 (NKJV)
9 Then Naaman went with his horses and chariot, and he stood at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.” 11 But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, “Indeed, I said to myself, ‘He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.’ 12 Are not the Abanah and the 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.
13 And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 14 So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. 15 And he returned to the man of God, he and all his aides, and came and stood before him; and he said, “Indeed, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel; now therefore, please take a gift from your servant.” 16 But he said, “As the LORD lives, before whom I stand, I will receive nothing.” And he urged him to take it, but he refused. 17 So Naaman said, “Then, if not, please let your servant be given two mule-loads of earth; for your servant will no longer offer either burnt offering or sacrifice to other gods, but to the LORD. 18 Yet in this thing may the LORD pardon your servant: when my master goes into the temple of Rimmon to worship there, and he leans on my hand, and I bow down in the temple of Rimmon—when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the LORD please pardon your servant in this thing.” 19 Then he said to him, “Go in peace.” So he departed from him a short distance.
20 But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, “Look, my master has spared Naaman this Syrian, while not receiving from his hands what he brought; but as the LORD lives, I will run after him and take something from him.” 21 So Gehazi pursued Naaman. When Naaman saw him running after him, he got down from the chariot to meet him, and said, “Is all well?” 22 And he said, “All is well. My master has sent me, saying, ‘Indeed, just now two young men of the sons of the prophets have come to me from the mountains of Ephraim. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of garments.'” 23 So Naaman said, “Please, take two talents.” And he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of garments, and handed them to two of his servants; and they carried them on ahead of him. 24 When he came to the citadel, he took them from their hand, and stored them away in the house; then he let the men go, and they departed.
25 Now he went in and stood before his master. Elisha said to him, “Where did you go, Gehazi?” And he said, “Your servant did not go anywhere.” 26 Then he said to him, “Did not my heart go with you when the man turned back from his chariot to meet you? Is it time to receive money and to receive clothing, olive groves and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male and female servants? 27 Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and your descendants forever.” And he went out from his presence leprous, as white as snow.
There is a tourist attraction along the banks of the Jordan River, just south of Tiberias, where the river flows south from the Sea of Galilee. It is purported to be the site of the Baptism of Jesus, but that more likely took place somewhat to the south, near where the modern Allenby Bridge crosses between the West Bank and Jordan. There in Tiberias tourists purchase small flasks of water from the Jordan River, as well as other souvenirs. Some people instead fill empty soft drink bottles directly from the river to carry home for the scheduled baptism of a young family member.
The Syrian warrior Naaman disdained the Jordan, preferring the cleaner water of the rivers flowing through Damascus. Naaman did not have faith in the Lord, but he apparently had a wary trust in the power of Elisha to heal his leprosy. Reluctantly he obeyed the prophet’s instructions and was cured. He then declared that “there is no God on earth except in Israel.” The grace of God created faith in Naaman’s heart.
The grace of God preceded us as we were washed, not in any local watercourse, but in simple tap water comprehended together with God’s Word and promise. We were baptized into Christ’s death and became heirs of the kingdom of God. And not our ears but our hearts were opened by God, Who indeed does all things well. Faith was created by the life-giving water and Word of Holy Baptism, for which we will bless the Lord at all times, His praise being continually in our mouths.