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. — 2 Kings 5: 14
Those who are humble will experience God’s acts of grace.
The healing event described in our Bible text was preceded by an inner battle on the part of Naaman. These are experiences from which we can learn today.
God’s help is grace
With befitting gifts, Naaman at first turned to the king of Israel (2 Kings 5: 5) with his request for healing. However, it was with the “man of God”—namely the prophet Elisha—that he ultimately had to seek healing. As a sign that the help of God could neither be bought, or require payment, Elisha did not accept these gifts.
To this day, God offers human beings the help of His salvation through His messengers. He is not impressed by what they are or what they have. After all, “what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”(Matthew 16: 26).
Humbleness leads to grace
Naaman was too proud and was at first offended by Elisha’s advice to do something very simple in order to be healed. Despite the severity of his illness, he declined to wash himself in the Jordan seven times. It can at times seem difficult to act in accordance with the counsel of God. In order to do so, our own ideas, conceit, and complacency must retreat.
Even in the conversion of Paul, Jesus did not act directly, but rather gave him the advice, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do” (Acts 9: 6). He referred him to His messenger, and it was there that Paul received salvation.
At the Jordan, Naaman’s companions reminded him of his desire for healing and of Elisha’s counsel (2 Kings 5:13). Thereupon he dismissed his reservations, washed himself in the Jordan, and was cleansed.
To this day, the Lord invites us to come to Him in humbleness and receive His acts of grace in His word and in the sacraments. That which He has already promised and granted to us in His grace, He also desires to make available to all human beings, including those in the beyond.
With a view to the upcoming service for the departed, let us likewise be such “loving companions”, so that longing souls can let go of their inhibitions and likewise receive God’s acts of grace.
The sacraments for salvation
In His great commission to His Apostles, Jesus reinforced God’s universal will to save. There He referred to the necessity of the sacramental acts “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”, in order to obtain God’s salvation (Matthew 28: 19–20).
In Holy Baptism with water, God grants His full devotion to the believing human being and fundamentally changes his relationship with God: the condition of remoteness from God is thereby lifted (Catechism 8.1.3).
By partaking in Holy Communion, the believer experiences and reinforces his relationship with God. It is an essential means of preparation for the day of Christ’s return (Catechism 8.2.20) and for eternal life (John 6: 54).
In Holy Sealing, the rebirth out of water and the Spirit—which was begun at baptism—is completed. The believer is thus called to be a child of God and a firstling, and is then prepared in the church for the marriage of the Lamb (Catechism 8.3.9).
* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for the Thanksgiving divine service held on Sunday, 25 October 2015 at Midrand Congregation.