Sermons by Pastor Walter Snyder plus announcements, articles, videos, and anything else that doesn’t fit Ask the Pastor or the Luther Library.

26 January 2014

Sermon: Epiphany 3 (OT)

26 January AD 2014
The Third Sunday after the Epiphany

Title: A Great Word (MP3 Audio)

A Leper to Be Healed Summary: For life-altering events, we tend to expect dramatic narratives and heroic deeds. Naaman probably figured that with his personal importance — not to mention the might of Assyria on his side — he also rated personal attention from the prophet.

Instead, Elisha merely sent his servant who merely told Naaman that he should bathe himself seven times in the Jordan River. No Sturm und Drang. No voice from the heavens. No acts of penance and contrition.

Naaman was ready to pout his way back home when his servants brought him to his senses. It truly was “a great word” that he heard because it was God’s Word of healing through His prophet. It was a great word because it was connected to a physical action that had no chance of effecting a cure. It was a word that demanded — and rewarded — simple faith.

So Naaman went to “wash, and be clean” and when he left the Jordan the seventh time, “his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child.” He was free of his affliction and returned to Elisha to thank him and to acknowledge that only Israel had the world’s one, true God.

God continues telling sin-sick people to “wash, and be clean.” He forgives sin and adopts new children through the waters of Holy Baptism. Infants or adults? Certainly! The children of Israel? Without a doubt! Greeks? Barbarians? Wise? Foolish? (cf. Romans 1:14) Of course! Today’s Gospel illustrates Jesus’ healing of Jew and Gentile alike, a sign of our full healing, the complete reversal of all of sin’s damage, in the Resurrection.

Christ took all sins upon Himself. He stood in for each and every sinner, accepting our punishment. He carried our weaknesses in His flesh. Jesus died for each of us and Baptism bestows the fruits of His labors on all who receive it, benefiting all who trust that “great word” of grace through faith in Him.

Naaman Washing in the Jordan Text: Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper.

Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little girl from the land of Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”

So Naaman went in and told his lord, “Thus and so spoke the girl from the land of Israel.”

And the king of Syria said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.”

So he went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing. And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you Naaman my servant, that you may cure him of his leprosy.”

And when the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Only consider, and see how he is seeking a quarrel with me.”

But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come now to me, that he may know that there is a prophet in Israel.”

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.

Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and he came and stood before him. And he said, “Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel.” 2 Kings 5:1-15a

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of A Great Word. Preached to the saints of God at Trinity Lutheran Church, Norborne, Missouri.

NB: For some reason, a few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio if Windows Media is their default MP3 player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 110:1-4; Romans 1: 8-17; Matthew 8:1-13 (optional Epistle, Romans 12:16-21)

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