Summary: The comparison of Naaman in 2 Kings5:1-14 and the leper healed by Jesus in Mark 1:40-45 reveals to us that we should follow God’s leading and do what God tells us in the good as well as the bad places of our lives.
Intro: I was the youngest grandchild on both sides of my family. Consequently, I was always being told what to do. That was one thing I disliked about being the youngest. Yet, when I questioned why I should do something I always got the same reply, “Just do as you’re told!” There are similarities between these two passages of scripture. Some of the more obvious are: both men had leprosy, both men sought a cure from a powerful person, and both were told to do something.
I. In 2 Kings 5: 1 – 14, the story of Naaman, a wealthy man with leprosy is told to go wash himself 7 times in the Jordan River.
A. Naaman was hoping to buy a cure. For him, it was an easy thing to do. And his reaction to Elisha’s order is anger. 2Kgs. 5:11 – “But Naaman went away angry and said, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy.” Why was Naaman so angry? --- He didn’t get things his way. Naaman wouldn’t listen to what he was told. He just ranted and raved. He fussed. Why? Why would this wealthy man not do what Elisha, the great prophet told him to do?
B. I think the reason he refused was because he thought it was just too simple a thing to do. It was too easy. He had come prepared to PAY for a cure (he brought about 750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold and 10 sets of clothing) “Don’t you know who I am? I’m a wealthy, important person and you should do things my way!”
C. Perhaps Naaman wanted to brag that “I Did It My Way.” Of course, we don’t know anyone who lives with that attitude, do we?
II. Set beside this passage from 2 Kings is Mark’s account of the healing of another leper. This one is a nameless, faceless person who came to Jesus seeking a cure.
A. This man puts his cure completely in the hands of Jesus. “If you are willing . . .” So, if he isn’t cured, it isn’t his fault, he can blame Jesus. And Jesus meets the man on his terms, heals him and then tells him to do something. It wasn’t just a suggestion that Jesus made. The Greek here implies that Jesus was angry, full of emotion. Verse 44 – “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.”
B. Don’t tell anyone and go. --- And this man, like Naaman, didn’t do what he was told. Verse 45 – “Instead he went out and began to talk freely spreading the news.” Why would the man disobey so blatantly? --- Some say the news was just too good to keep quiet. Still others would say that Jesus knew human nature well enough that he knew the man would tell everyone precisely because he had been told to keep it quiet. But, though he was apparently healed by Jesus, the man could not re-enter society unless he was certified by the priest in the temple. The process took 7 days, required the purchase of several sacrifices and a ritual. Perhaps the man was just too busy spreading the “news” to be bothered by a little thing like validating the fact of his cure. His talking created serious problems for Jesus and his followers. He had to leave that part of the country.
C. Of course, we don’t know anyone like this either, do we? We don’t know anyone who would “spread the news” without verifying the truth and in doing so, cause problems for someone else.
III. As similar as these two stories are, there is a great difference. In the story of Naaman, we learn that in the end, Naaman does what is asked and is cured. But, the story in Mark does not tell us whether the man ever took the time to do what he was told.
A. So what can we gain from these 2 stories? The lesson is clear to me. We are to do as we are told. Believing involves always doing what God commands in the bad places of our lives and in the good.
B. Naaman could have saved himself a lot of grief if he had just done what Elisha instructed him to do without question. --- How like us his reaction is. --- We often question God and rage against God when things don’t go the way we want them to go. We fuss and fume before we are willing to do as God commands. We could also save ourselves a great deal of grief in difficult circumstances if we would just believe in the Lord’s power to help and do as we are told.