Watermarked

by The Rev. George F. Borghardt III

2 King 5:1-14

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Naaman knew what he needed. Everybody knows how someone gets cured from leprosy.

First, the prophet has to come out of his house. Then, he stands and calls on the name of the Lord His God. Then, he waves his hand and cures the leper.

But that's not what happened to Naaman. Instead, the Man of God didn't even come out of his house to meet him. Some messenger comes with a message, "Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean."

I mean, why the Jordan? Wasn't his rivers of Damascus more impressive?

The whole thing lacks real religion. There needs to be more. More than just water and a command. There needs to be something.... spectacular.

Something like, put your right foot out, put your right foot in, put your right foot out, shake it all about... move your hands like this, turn yourself around, that's what it's all about!

And if the man of God had told him that, I'm sure Naaman would have done it. That's religion! The more spectacle the better.

Naaman, like everyone in this world, dear friends, is an expert on religion. Everyone knows what they need and how to get what they need.

What we need to do is do something awesome to fix our situation with God. Something spectacular. Something out of the ordinary. Something that will blow God away!

That's what we do with religion. We are the expert. We know what's going on with God. We don't need someone else to tell us. We know what we need to change.

The Son of God took on your flesh, was born of the Virgin, and lived the life you should live. His death, is your death. Death to sin. Death to hell.

His resurrection is your justification, God's proclamation that the war between the two of you is over. He's your God. Your His child.

That's scandal to the world. No, no, no. That can't be right. All of salvation wrapped up in a man hanging dead on the cross two-thousand years ago? There should be more. And it certainly can't be that all of God's salvation is splashed on me at the baptismal font!

There's got to be something more, something more impressive, something me. I have to decide to be washed. At least put my left foot in the water. It just can't work if I'm a baby being splashed. I mean, everyone knows, “God helps those who help themselves.”

Now, that doesn't work in the world. A month ago when I put my suburban in reverse and the car moved forward the last person that I needed to help me was me. What I needed was a.... you can say it... was a mechanic!

When I am sick, I'm not the right person to get myself well. What I need is a... doctor!

God doesn't help those who help themselves. We need to repent of all that. What Naaman needed ...what we need... is to repent.

You and me too. Turn. Turn from what you think. Turn from what you know. Turn from the religion that's you. And cling to the external Word from God's messenger.

The Lord is calling us away today from all that we think we know about religion, faith, and baptism, and to cling to the external word – His word alone.

Naaman needed to get... in... the ... water. Seven times, please. Just as the Lord commanded. Naaman's salvation, his cleansing, was in the water. There in the Jordan River.

Your salvation, your life, is in the water too. Salvation achieved on the Cross by Jesus and delivered in the water. His water. His command. Not seven times, just once. Your sins washed away. You are cleansed in the font.

The Lord has sent His messenger today, not to wave His hand or turn himself self around, but to remind you: You are baptized. You bear God's name. The Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. You are a child of God.

No matter what you may think. No matter what you have done or will do. He won't forget that Name. He's not gonna forget you.

It's too good to be to true. It can't be that because He splashed water on you, marked you with His Name, that you are a child of God.

Turn from that thinking. Trust the Lord's words from His messenger. Your sins have been washed away by Christ in Baptism.

And when you fail, when you want to run back to the way you used to do things – that religion where you gauge how things are going between you and God by what sin you have and haven't done today.

I'm closer to God today, I didn't do that. I'm farther, I did. Yuck!

Run back to the water where you were cleansed. Drown that old religion again and start anew. Trust the external word.

Remember He has washed your sins away and that the final word for you on the Last Day will be: Your sins are forgiven.

Naaman knew what he needed. He needed to go into the waters of the Jordan. In the water with the Lord's command, He would be cleansed.

You too. In the water and God's command. You have been cleansed and forgiven.

He who believes and is baptized shall be saved. Grant this Lord, unto us all. Amen. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

The Rev. George F. Borghardt III is the assistant/youth pastor of St. Mark Lutheran Church, Conroe, Texas.  Pastor Borghardt is the Conferences Executive of Higher Things.

Created: January 28th, 2008