“Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan...and you will be cleansed.”
He was the top commander in a powerful army. He knew all the right people. His king regarded him as “a great man.” He had influence and money. He had servants at his beck and call. He had an entourage that followed him everywhere. And he was a leper.
Leprosy changed everything for Naaman. And this leprosy set the stage for an intriguing drama, a story that tells us something of what baptism is about.
Most of us, in our honest moments, would choose power over weakness, influence over being ignored, and prestige over neglect. We like to be the one making decisions and getting perks, not the one who depends on another’s mercy.
Naaman found that no one could help him. And in this one area of his life, he couldn’t help himself. He was at the end of his rope.
So he went to see the prophet of God in Israel. The prophet’s instructions, though, seemed like a joke, an insult. Wash in the Jordan?! Naaman would gladly have done some great deed—anything!—to earn the favor of the God of Israel.
But the God of Israel doesn’t work that way. He wakes us out of our self-sufficiency.
Elisha didn’t even greet the entourage. He sent a messenger to say, in effect, “Go, humble yourself. And be cleansed.”
Are we willing to be humbled?
Lord, we often think we are self-sufficient. But you invite us into your baptismal waters that make us clean. Thank you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.k
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