a sermon based on 2 Kings 5:1-14
By Dr. Robert Jacks,
reprinted by permission
Some things in life we can only learn by
taking a leap of faith.
Remember the time when you learned how to ride the bicycle?
The day is still vividly I my mind when I went out with my father to learn how to ride
it the proper way.
After wearing down my training wheels, I knew that I was ready to take them off.
Most of my friends could ride their bikes without training wheels already.
So, here we were, standing on the black mackadam of the parking lot. My dad helped me
on my bike and said: "off you go!"
"Wait a minute," I shouted, scared,
"what do you mean: off I go?"
"Arent you going to give me instructions?
Arent you gonna give me the secret of bike-riding?"
But my dad was adamant: "there is no secret. You already know how to ride it. Just
Just do it! The words echoed in my mind and I tried to do it. God knows, I
wanted to do it so bad, but I couldnt get myself to start paddling. It was too
simple, and yet too... difficult!
It wasnt that I didnt believe my dad.
I was sure it worked for him.
I was sure it worked for others.
But I was not so sure it worked for me.
So my dad did what all dads do: he tricked me into doing it.
He said: "o.k., Im going to hold your bike while you ride it."
And after a while he let go for a while.
And then he said: "Now go by yourself!"
And I said, "I cant!"
And he said: "you already did it."
"What do you mean?"
"I let go for a little while."
"And I did it by myself?"
And guess what, I just did it! That was all the assurance I needed--I needed to know
that I too could do it!
I think my story has something to do with the story of Naaman. I think Naamans
story has something to do with you, with me, and all of us.
Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria
was a great man with his master and in high favor,
because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria.
He was a mighty man of valor.
Naaman was a great man. You could say Naaman was the Norman Schwartzkopf of the year
Stormin Norman! -- Stormin Naaman!
Youd pick up a copy of Times magazine,
and there on the cover would be General Naaman,
MAN OF THE YEAR!
youd pick up a copy of US News & World Report,
and there on the cover would be General Naaman,
surrounded by Dick and Jerry, Jimmy and Ron, and George and Bill,
all flashing the V-for-victory sign,
looking proudly at Naaman
and grinning for all their worth!
Youd pick up a copy of Better Homes and Gardens
and I twould feature General Naaman
in front of his multi-million dollar estate
standing beside his Maserati, and his Porsche, outside a twenty-car garage.
Naaman was a great man, a really great man, a super great man!
But what most people didnt notice--didnt really notice--
was...in all those photos,
in all his appearances,
General Naaman wore a white silk scarf around his neck.
And what most people didnt know was...that scarf was a cover-up:
It was a cover-up for a spot--that every day grew bigger and bigger.
Naaman was a great man,
a mighty man of valor...but he was a leper.
Of course, the maid of the house, a little Israelite woman, she knew, and one day she
discretely said to her mistress, "Yknow maam, if only Mr. Naaman could go
see the prophet in Samaria. This man of God could cure...his problem."
At this point Naaman is grasping for straws. So when his wife told him about the great
man of God, Elisha, he is on his way to Israel.
So off went Naaman.
bags of gold and sacks of silver piled high in his chariots,
off to see the prophet, the wonderful prophet of God.
Off to Elishas house he went.
Jumped from his chariot, ran to the front door, knocked three times,
and guess who came out?
It wasnt Elisha.
It was one of Elishas students.
And the student simply said to Naaman--
General Naaman, mind you,
the great man,
the mighty man of valor--
He said to him, "go wash in the Jordan and youll be healed."
Great Naaman with great expectations came for the great cure, and...what happened?
No hoopla, no trumpets, no dancing girls, and no...prophet--
just a simple theology student who said: "go wash!"
"I thought he would surely come out to me
and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God
and wave his hand over the place--and cure me!
I could have stayed home and washed in the
rivers of Damascus instead of this...Jordan!"
And Naaman turned on his Gucci heels and stormed off in a rage.
Still a great man
Until one of his servants comes to him and says: "Master, just do it!"
Now, can you see his dilemma?
Can you hear Naaman say to himself: "I cant do it. It may work for others,
but not or me"? Can you hear him saying: "what about my reputation? what will
other people think?
What would the headlines say on the newsweek, the times magazine covers: "Great
War Hero Takes A Dip,"
"General Naaman is all wet."
Naman, youd have to take off your festal garments
and stand before all in simple humility. Naaman, youd have to take the plunge and
But then there are the other voices in Naamans heart. The voices that say;
"What does is profit you to gain the whole world and loose your life? Just do
"Unless you become like a little child you cannot enter the kingdom of
heaven"--just do it, humble yourself!
"Humble yourself before the Lord and he will lift you up"--just do it,
And in our NT lesson this morning, Jesus says: (12:24) Very truly, I tell you, unless a
grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it
dies, it bears much fruit. (12:25) Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate
their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
Come on Naaman, just do it, humble yourself. Dont let the glamour and the fame of
this world blind you to the true life, the real fame and the lasting glamour that the
kingdom of God brings. Do it, give up the illusion of happiness and embrace the happy
So here you are at the crossroads, whats it going to be, Naaman?
Death by holding on to your idea of greatness, your influence in this society...
or birth by drowning that illusion?
Building a life on the sinking sands of what others expect of you, of trust in your
riches, and fame...
or a life on the solid rock of faith, trust in God, and life eternal?
You can do it Naaman, yes you can too, you just don't know it yet. Remember the thing
about learning to ride the bike? You can do it!
Just do it!
Run on down to the Jordan, Naaman.
Run on down that hill.
And dont ever forget
the grace of God always runs downhill to meet you!
Just do it my friend.
Just do it!
And...for Gods sake....For Gods sake...and for our own sake...take us along
with you. Amen.