Summary: The Good News we celebrate today is that Jesus has made us clean, and we want to grasp more fully what it means to be "Cleansed in the Name of Jesus."

Epiphany 6B “Be Clean” sermon Hope Lutheran. Pr. Dale B .Krueger

"Be Made Clean!"

Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man and in high favor with his master, because by him the LORD had given victory to Aram. The man, though a mighty warrior, suffered from leprosy. {2} Now the Arameans on one of their raids had taken a young girl captive from the land of Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. {3} She said to her mistress, "If only my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy." {4} So Naaman went in and told his lord just what the girl from the land of Israel had said. {5} And the king of Aram said, "Go then, and I will send along a letter to the king of Israel."

He went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten sets of garments. {6} He brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, "When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you my servant Naaman, that you may cure him of his leprosy." {7} When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, "Am I God, to give death or life, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Just look and see how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me." {8} But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent a message to the king, "Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come to me, that he may learn that there is a prophet in Israel."

{9} So Naaman came with his horses and chariots, and halted at the entrance of Elisha’s house. {10} Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, "Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean."

{11} But Naaman became angry and went away, saying, "I thought that for me he would surely come out, and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and would wave his hand over the spot, and cure the leprosy! {12} 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?" He turned and went away in a rage. {13} But his servants approached and said to him, "Father, if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? How much more, when all he said to you was, ’Wash, and be clean’?" {14} So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; his flesh was restored like the flesh of a young boy, and he was clean. 2 Kings 5:1-14

In a certain sense, we began our worship service this morning, as unclean lepers standing in the presence of Jesus imploring Him, "If you will, you can make us clean". And we can be confident that our Lord Jesus Christ, moved with pity and love for us, stretched out His hand and said, "I will, be clean...I announce my grace to all of you...I forgive you all your sins". The Good News we celebrate today is that Jesus has made us clean, and we want to grasp more fully what it means to be "Cleansed in the Name of Jesus."

The term "leprosy" in the Scriptures was a general term associated with the idea of uncleanness. It was used for a variety of skin diseases from ringworm and psoriasis to a very serious chronic disease which we usually associate with the term "leprosy", known since 1971 as "Hansen’s disease". In Biblical times it was the responsibility of the priesthood to pronounce a man leprous or healed, clean or unclean. When the very chronic condition was diagnosed, the afflicted person was banished from society, and was ordered to dress distinctively and to announce his uncleanness. While the leper was regarded as ceremonially unclean, the Scriptures never refer to leprosy as a type of sin. Its occurrence was regarded as an Act of God, and the healing of lepers was invariably interpreted as a miracle of divine grace.

Today’s Gospel lesson records one of the many times that Jesus healed people described in the New Testament as lepers. Also, the cleansing of such people was one of the tasks allotted to the Twelve during their mission. Today’s Old Testament lesson tells of Naaman, the Syrian commander in chief. He had received every honor that military skill and good fortune could bring, but he was a leper. That he mingled freely with his own people probably indicates that he was not suffering from the chronic leprosy, "Hansen’s Disease", but from some other complaint, possibly vitiligo...a skin disease characterized by smooth, white patches on various parts of the body, caused by the loss of the natural pigment.

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