Immersed in the River

Last week, I happened to listen to a sermon, and in the course of the message the preacher mentioned an account from the Bible: the healing of Naaman the Syrian. Naaman commanded the army of Syria and was held in high favour by his king. But he also happened to be a leper.

In a journey of faith, Naaman headed from Syria in search of Elisha, a prophet of God in the land of Israel, who he believed could lead him to healing. And Elisha did lead him, but Naaman couldn’t readily accept the path. Naaman’s rejection of the way prescribed by Elisha, I feel, gives us a glimpse of our own nature as people….

So he turned and went away in a rage.

‭‭2 Kings‬ ‭5:12‬

Have you ever been in a position when someone offered you something that just seemed, ‘too good to be true’..? More often than not, our decision would be to pass on the proposition simply because we could never believe that someone would offer something so precious, for something far too little. And you see, Naaman wasn’t unlike us….

When he received word from Elisha that all he had to do to be healed, was to dip in the Jordan seven times, Naaman felt mocked. Which of us could blame him..? Naaman came to Elisha, expecting some religious rite to be performed over him. Perhaps, Elisha would lead him to some acts of penance, where he would have to inflict suffering upon himself in order to be healed. Or maybe he would have to make an offering to God or give them away in the name of alms, for the sake of his sins..? Naaman came from Syria carrying quite a load of wealth: nearly a dozen kilos of gold and over three hundred kilos of silver. If Elisha had set a price for his healing, I wonder, would he have sounded more authentic in the eyes of Naaman..?

Through Elisha though, God offered Naaman healing from his disease, without any religiosity or penance, and even without a price. All God asked of Naaman, was to believe in His word, and do the most simplest of acts and he would be healed. And this certainly was one occasion where an offer that was ‘too good’, happened to be true too.

And his servants came near, and spoke unto him, and said, “My father, if the prophet had bid you do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much rather then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean?'”

‭‭2 Kings‬ ‭5:13‬

While Naaman’s reaction was typically human, another act that wasn’t typically so is what lead him eventually to his healing. As Naaman turned away to leave, he paused to listen to his lowly servants, as they pleaded with him to take up Elisha on his offer. While the Jordan was – and still remains – powerless to heal, Naaman witnessed the power of the One who could heal him, in a single act of faith….

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

How much similar is the healing of Naaman to the healing that God offers you and me, from the burden of our sins, through Christ Jesus..? Without religiosity..? Without acts of penance..? Without price..? All that He asks of us, who are burdened by our sins, is this: To believe in the message of the Christ, that He has borne all our sins – past, present and future – once and for all, when He died as an eternal sacrifice for us on the cross. To those of us who deeply repent of our sins, can there be any other offer that is as good, and yet so true..?

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28

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House of Bread

Sunday Quiz: Where was Jesus born..?

Well, that is an easy one, right..? You likely answered Bethlehem and you would be right. But.. I want to share a little bit of trivia about Bethlehem – the City of David.

When the Israelites gave names to people/places, they chose for a name a meaningful word/string of words in their own tongue – which is still a common practice in many cultures around the world. Naturally, names in the Bible carry more significance to the Hebrews than it does to us – people who do not speak/understand Hebrew. Consider this, every time people called out to Jesus by name in Judea, they would’ve been effectively calling Him as ‘God is Salvation’. See, the name to them meant more than the sound of the syllables in His name.

Now.. we can get back to Bethlehem. Bethlehem too must have a meaning, right..? Of course it does. The prefix ‘beth’ signifies ‘house’ in Hebrew. There are many names that begin as such – Bethel, Bethesda and Bethsaida come to mind – which all signify that they are a ‘house of’ something [or someone]. What is that something, here..? The second part of the word ‘lehem’ signifies bread in Hebrew. So.. Bethlehem put together becomes ‘House of Bread’.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger.”

John 6:35

Our Saviour spoke many amazing things. Amazing things like claiming to be the ‘Bread of Life’. And we do know from scriptures that the Saviour who claimed to be the ‘Bread of Life’ was born in a manger in the ‘House of Bread’. How mysteriously beautiful are His ways….

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