“And in the prophet Elisha’s time, there were many who had leprosy, and yet not one of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” (Luke 4:27)
The context of this passage is Luke 4:16-30 and, according to Dr. Jere Phillips, the context focused on how people respond to Jesus. Jesus had come back to Nazareth and was preaching in the temple and so far the teaching was going well. Until this. After Jesus had said these words, the Pharisees in the temple became angry. Let’s take a look why.
Naaman was the commander of the Syrian army in the time of the Old Testament. He was a popular man, but he was not Jewish, and he had leprosy. He is healed of this leprosy when he is invited to talk to the prophet Elisha. Naaman listen to Elisha's instructions, and obeyed. At first, Naaman was incensed that Elisha himself did not make the trip to him, but rather Elisha sent a messenger. However, humbling himself, he followed the messenger’s instructions from Elisha and went to the river to bathe. He was healed.
The message from Jesus to the people of Nazareth was two-fold. First, God was not just for the Jews. That was hard for the Pharisees to hear. In their opinion God was for the Jews only. The second message was: God works how God wants to work. That would have been hard for the Pharisees to hear too. They were used to rituals and traditions. They thought they knew how God worked and therefore could tell the people how everything was supposed to happen.
We learn in Jesus’ teaching and from experience that salvation is for all mankind. And, we learn that God is not to be directed on how He is to act. He forgives who He forgives. He heals who He heals. He guides who He guides. If we are sent to the river to bathe to be healed, then we should do it, even if it seems to defy our common sense.
Question: Are you in charge or is God?
Challenge: How will you respond? In your mind is forgiveness for everyone, including you? Will you allow God to work in His time?
Prayer: Father, help me to trust in You deeper. Amen.
Craig Stout, Chapel Leader -- Princeton Whistlepigs