Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: G-R-A-C-E God’s riches at Christ’s expense. You cannot earn your way to Salvation, only by receiving Christ as Savior.

I recently read about a pastor in Arkansas who lost his wife. She died as a result of a terminal disease. She had been struggling with that disease for the two years prior to her death. They finally came to a place about three months before she died where conventional medicine told them that there was nothing else they could do. There was no more hope.

This pastor was still clinging to the hope of a cure. So he decided to turn to what we would consider more unconventional means. He even went to Mexico and sought out a clinic where they had good results, but they wondered if they had waited too long. They proceeded with the treatments anyway, and it involved everything from eating shark cartilage to drinking tea made from the bark of a particular tree. They were desperate for a cure.

Tragically, for them. there was no cure, which makes it all the more amazing and incredible when we read this story. We see that here was a man .... the Stormin’ Norman Schwarzkopf of his day .... and he had a deadly disease. Yet, when offered a cure for that disease, he refused it. He walks off. We can’t help but ask ourselves, "Why? Why in the world would he refuse a cure for such a deadly disease?"

Preconceived Notions

Actually, Naaman was not a whole lot different from you or me. He was not a whole lot different from many people today in that Naaman desired to design his own cure. Naaman wanted his own cure. He had his own idea, his own plan, his own design in mind. He explained, as he pulled up to Elisha’s door with his entourage, that he couldn’t understand, first of all, why Elisha didn’t come out himself.

At least, he had in his mind that Elisha would come out and stand there, dressed in his best, flowing robes, perhaps with a lovely assistant at his side. Naaman thought Elisha should wave his arms in some dramatic gesture, while all the time reciting some magnificent incantation. Then Naaman would be healed. At least that would be something special. But to go and dip seven times in what amounted to a muddy creek, in our way of thinking, to go and do something so simple and humble as dipping in this little muddy river?

However, Naaman’s servant in verse 13 said, "My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it?"

You see that’s the issue here. In Naaman’s mind, it would take some great thing.

I mean, he did have his pride. Again, this is Stormin’ Naaman, the commander. In his pride in his own mind, he thought at least there would be something that Elisha would ask him to do .... maybe go out and kill a thousand of Israel’s enemies and bring their scalps back. He expected that Elisha would ask him to do something so great so that the greatness of the task would at least begin to balance out the terribleness of this disease or the greatness of such an act would, at least, begin to somewhat approximate the magnificence of a cure.

An Inconceivable Reality

But to go and dip seven times in this muddy, little river? In Naaman’s mind, that just sounded foolish. What if it didn’t work? How would he look then?

After all, Stormin’ Naaman had an image to protect. It was just too simple.

In another way, it seemed just too good to be true. It was such a little thing for this magnificent commander to do in exchange for something so awesome, so great.

We would have thought the same way, wouldn’t we? We would be just like that.

Why didn’t Elisha come out? He couldn’t have been a Southern prophet, could he?

Where’s the hospitality? Who does he think he is?

In the back of our minds, we have to wonder. This does sound just a little foolish, doesn’t it? Just imagine if you were to contract some deadly disease and someone comes up and says, "Hey, listen. There’s a doctor over in Dallas that has a cure for this." You race over there. You find the doctor, and you’re sitting there in the waiting room. He sends his nurse out to tell you to go out to the back where there’s a little tributary of the Trinity River.

He wants you to dip in it seven times, and you’ll be healed. You would almost wonder if you were healed, what other disease you would get just for stepping foot in the Trinity.

But it does sound too good to be true. Haven’t we been told all of our lives that if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is? In other words, it probably isn’t true. I will have to admit that I received something in the mail a few days ago that looked like a newspaper and the headline said, "Robert K. Joyce wins $10,000,000." I was about to toss it in the trash can, and this fleeting thought went through my mind, "What if...?"

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