2 Kings 5:1-19
To see that all good things come from God, but that God uses means.
To see that ordinary, even insignificant people doing God's will in small ways can accomplish more than kings and generals.
To be encouraged because God's grace is given undeservedly.
To be encouraged to speak up, as love for neighbor overcomes our fears and embarrassment.
To trust God's ways, which might not always look sensible to us.
S.A.Y. Sunday today.
Introduce Mr. & Mrs. Benton and Mr. & Mrs. Quade.
1. Usually I try to start a lesson with a real-life question or two that applies to the lesson. Today I have so many questions it's hard to stop:
• When we pray for our sick family and friends in church, do you ever wonder whether it helps? If they are healed, did God heal them or did doctors and medicine heal them?
• Isn't it odd to think that God delivers His grace to us and saves us in Baptism and the Lord's Supper? How can those do any good?
• The world's problems are enormous; just think about the problems in Africa, or India, or Haiti, or South America, or even North Chicago. Or Lake Forest Hospital. Now think of all of them at once. How can I make any difference solving any of those problems? I'm insignificant!
• Have you ever wondered any of those things? Do you wonder about them now? Let's hold those questions, and come back to them at the end of today's lesson, and see whether the lesson suggests any answers to them.
2. Read 2 Kings 5: 1-19.
Would the S.A.Y. couples like to read?
3. When and where did this story take place? Do we have any questions about people, events, places or other things?
Elisha? Aram? Syria? Leprosy? Elisha refusing the gifts? Taking dirt home?
4. Who are the main characters in this story?
How did they relate to one another?
5. What did Naaman expect?
For the king to command his healing, for the prophet to heal him with great pomp and ceremony, and for the king and prophet to expect expensive gifts in return.
6. What is the pivotal events in this story?
You could say it was Naaman's actual washing in the Jordan as God had told him through Elisha. But everybody in the story except the King of Israel played a part.
7. What other Bible passages discuss this same story or shed light on it?
24 And [Jesus] said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown. 25 But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; 26 yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. 27 There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” (Lk 4:24-27).
8. In verse 16, why does Elisha refuse Naaman's gifts?
To make it clear that (a) he didn't do the healing, and (b) Naaman didn't purchase the healing. God healed Naaman, as a free gift.
Why would the God of Israel heal a man who was a Gentile and outside the covenant? He was an enemy who kidnapped little Jewish girls, and a leper who should have been isolated and left to die.
Naaman’s experience with Elisha illustrates to us the gracious work of God in saving lost sinners.
9. In verse 17, why does Naaman ask permission to take dirt home with him?
In the ancient world it was commonly thought that a deity could be worshiped only on the soil of the nation to which he was bound (see v. 15). For this reason Naaman wanted to take Israelite soil with him in order to have a place in Damascus for the worship of the Lord.
10. How might it have been different if Naaman hadn't washed in the Jordan?
He would have gone home a leper. Nobody could force him to accept God's gift of healing.
11. How might it have been different if his wife's servant hadn't spoken up? His wife? If his king hadn't sent him to Israel? If Elisha hadn't been home? If his servant hadn't suggested that he reconsider?
He would have gone home a leper.
But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? Romans 10:14
12. What does the story teach us about God’s character?
13. Did the lesson help with any of the questions I asked at the beginning of the lesson?
Did God heal Naaman, or did his wife's servant, his wife, his king, Elisha, and Naaman's own servant?
God healed him, and used all the people listed as means in the the healing.
What sense did it make for Naaman to wash in the Jordan to be healed?
That's how God chose to heal him, just as God chooses to give us his grace and save us using Baptism and Holy Communion. It makes no human sense, but that's how He's told us that He does it.
What good could Naaman's wife's servant girl do in healing a mighty general of a terrible disease? His wife? His king? Elisha? How about his own servant?
God used each of these people to do a part in Naaman's healing, just as he chooses us to do a part in helping our neighbor in need. We can never know how much good a small helpful act will do, so we do what we can.
Next week Mrs. Kazarian will have a lesson about Queen Esther saving her people from a wicked enemy. Then we're off a week for Thanksgiving, and then it's Advent, and our first Advent lesson will be about the angel Gabriel visiting Jesus mother Mary, and announcing that God would come to earth, and that she would be His mother!
God, we thank you for your mercy in healing lepers like Naaman and lost souls like us. Grant us the faith to accept you on your terms as Naaman finally did, and the love to help our neighbor as many people in this story helped Naaman.
In Jesus' name, Amen.