Sixth Sunday After the Epiphany
2 Kings 5:1-14
“Now Naaman, captain of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man with his master, and highly respected…also a valiant warrior, but he was a leper” (2 Kings 5:1).
The world is full of Naamans. They are great and commendable people, but they are lost in sin. They are not lepers, but they are eaten up with a plague worse than leprosy. That ancient plague is a fitting picture of the incurable disease of the soul—sin. Just as Naaman was cleansed of his malady, so you may be healed of every sin. How was Naaman cleansed? How may you be cured of sin?
1. We are not cured by our good qualities (v. 10).
Naaman was a great and good man, but that did not rid him of his disease. It is tempting to think salvation is a need of the street people with their wine and worthlessness, but that we are good people, trying to live right and treat everyone with respect. Why do I need a Savior?
2. We are not cured of sin by human power (v. 7).
The king of Israel knew immediately that it was not in his power to cure anyone. He assumed the King of Aram was trying to pick a quarrel. When Elisha entered the drama, he wanted everyone to know it was not his power but God’s that would cure the captain. He did not so much as come out to see Naaman face to face.
3. We are not cured by our wealth (vv. 5, 16).
Ten talents of silver would be about 750 pounds or 12,000 ounces. In today’s rapidly inflating value of silver and gold, the silver would be worth about half a million dollars. The 6,000 shekels of gold or 150 pounds of gold at about $1,900 an ounce would be more than $4,500,000 in today’s money. Naaman was a very wealthy man and had the infinitely large public treasury of the Arameans and King Ben-Hadad at his disposal.
All of the money in the world could not stop the spread of leprosy in his body any more than all the wealth of all nations can cure one soul of sin’s sway. The millionaire is saved the same way as the pauper.
4. We are not cured in our own way (vv. 11-12).
Naaman flew into a rage when he was instructed by the messenger from the prophet to go dip seven times in the muddy Jordan River. For this he came more than 100 miles from Damascus to Samaria!? Abana and Pharpar were clean and attractive rivers back home. If dipping in a river did any good, why did he come down here?
We all are natural sinners and enemies of God. Salvation is a grace gift of God we receive by faith. Paul said, “Because we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (
Paul and Silas told their jailer in Philippi, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household” (
5. We are cured God’s way (v. 14).
Hear the invitation of Christ in the words of the ancient prophet Isaiah: “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”