Sermon Title: But he was a leper
Text: 2 Kings 5
So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. Are not Abana and 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. But his servants came near and said to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean (2 Kings 5:9-14).
Naaman had everything, it seems, except one thing: “he was a leper.” Depending on what the text means when it says “leprosy,” Naaman’s condition was at best a disease that marred his appearance and at worst something that devastated his entire life.
But the turning point of this story is what he does when he’s given the opportunity for the leprosy to be taken away: he refuses to obey.
Was it because he didn’t really believe it would happen? Was it pride? An inflated sense of his own importance? Did Naaman think he was too good to wade into the Jordan’s dirty waters?
It seems that way. Regardless, he wouldn’t do it until one of his servants finally talked some sense into him. And then, as you know, his leprosy disappeared.
Lessons for us are abundant. We’re reminded that God is the God of the world, not just the small nation of Israel. He’s working among people who are different from us.
And then there’s this lesson: Sometimes God tells us to do things that don’t make sense. He expects us to obey anyway.
When we trust God, though, and when we know he’ll do what he promises, we’ll do what he says. Even when it makes no sense at all.
And God blesses that kind of obedience.
- How can our class pray for you, a friend, or loved one?
Start Reading (read 2 Kings 5)
- What questions or observations do you have from reading the text? What’s one thing you remember from the sermon?
- Read verse 1 carefully. How does the last phrase of the verse undermine the rest of the verse?
- Who are the three “insignificant” people who play important roles in this story?
- The Israelites tended to believe that God was their God, but not necessarily everyone else’s. How does that selfish impulse manifest itself today? As Americans, do we sometimes think that we’ve got a special place as “God’s nation”? Is that true?
- Why do you think Elisha sent a messenger to Naaman instead of going himself?
- One of the sermon’s emphases was God’s using servants in this chapter to accomplish his will. Where else in Scripture do we see God favoring those whom the world has marginalized?
- Naaman was blessed when he obeyed. How does that principle apply to other acts of obedience? Is there a contradiction between that principle and the fact that we’re saved by grace?
- Corresponding to the sermon’s three main points:
- How can we better practice our conviction that God is the God of everyone and not just us?
- How does this story encourage us when we think we’re powerless?
- What thing has God commanded you to do that you’ve not been willing to do (because of pride or fear or whatever)?