Read 2 Kings 5:1-14
Many are familiar with the account of Naaman, who served as a commander of the Syrian army. The Scriptures say, “He was also a mighty man of valor, but a leper” (2 Kings 5:1). It was a slave girl from Israel who told Naaman’s wife of the power of God and the prophet who could heal the commander.
Naaman traveled to Elisha’s house, and Elisha sent a message to him by a messenger. The messenger told Naaman, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean” (2 Kings 5:10).
There were two major problems with what happened here, in Naaman’s opinion. First, the fact that Elisha sent a messenger rather than coming out himself was a sign of disrespect in the eyes of the Syrian commander. He was convinced that Elisha himself would “wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy” (2 Kings 5:11).
Second, Naaman was disturbed by the instructions to wash in the muddy waters of the Jordan. “Are not the Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” (2 Kings 5:12). Thus, Naaman’s rage-filled refusal to obey was marked with misunderstanding. It was not the quality of the water that would make him clean, but the obedience to the simple command.
This was the argument his servant made as Naaman stormed off. “My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean?’” (2 Kings 5:13). It was this servant’s humble appeal to simple obedience that convinced Naaman, who then “went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (2 Kings 5:14).
Still today, it is simple obedience that will cleanse the soul of the disease of sin. There are no prayers that the non-Christian can utter, no invitations for Jesus to come into the heart apart from obedience to the gospel. Yet, there are so many that rebel like Naaman, often in a rage, against the simple plea of the Lord: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16).