St. Mark’s Adult Education Meeting Summary
Today’s Scripture Readings
A Study Led By Rev. Mike Kreutzer
Sunday, February 15, 2009
II Kings (5:1-14)
Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man and in high favor with his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man, though a mighty warrior, suffered from leprosy. Now the Arameans on one of their raids had taken a young girl captive from the land of Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” So Naaman went in and told his lord just what the girl from the land of Israel had said. And the king of Aram said, “Go then, and I will send along a letter to the king of Israel.” He went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten sets of garments. He brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you my servant Naaman, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to give death or life, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Just look and see how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me.” But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent a message to the king, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come to me, that he may learn that there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman came with his horses and chariots, and halted at the entrance of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean.” But Naaman became angry and went away, saying, “I thought that for me he would surely come out, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and would wave his hand over the spot, and cure the leprosy! Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them, and be clean?” He turned and went away in a rage. But his servants approached and said to him, “Father, if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? How much more, when all he said to you was, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; his flesh was restored like the flesh of a young boy, and he was clean.
> The story take place in the mid-800’s BC and was put together some 300 years later.
> It was a time when Israel was becoming aware of the universality of God.
> Naaman is a pagan. The Lord had previously let Naaman defeat Israel’s armies!
> He was a mighty warrior, but suffered from leprosy.
> Even though the king of Israel cannot heal him, his servant has the solution.
> When Naaman finally went to Elisha, he did not meet with him but sent word that he should bathe seven times in the Jordan River.
> The mighty Naaman was furious to be treated in this manner! But his servants finally convinced him to go.
> After following instructions, his skin was restored to a child-like condition. Similarly, he became a changed person. His boastfulness was gone and he became child-like in his attitude toward God.
> Upon being healed, Naaman wanted to reward Elisha and tried to make him accept some very expensive and precious gifts. Elisha refused noting it was the Lord who healed him and not Elisha.
> Naaman also wanted to take some earth back to his home land (as as symbol of the God of Elisha’s land) and he asked God to forgive him if he still had to obey his king of Aram and worship his false god.
> However, on his way home after Elisha would not accept any of his gifts, Elisha’s servant thought he himself could get some of the reward by tricking Naaman into thinking that Elisha really did want some of his gifts.
> When the servant returns home, Elisha is aware of what happened and instead passes on Naaman’s leprosy to his servant as punishment for being so greedy.
1 I will exalt you, O Lord, because you have lifted me up *
and have not let my enemies triumph over me.
2 O Lord my God, I cried out to you, *
and you restored me to health.
3 You brought me up, O Lord, from the dead; *
you restored my life as I was going down to the grave.
4 Sing to the Lord, you servants of his; *
give thanks for the remembrance of his holiness.
5 For his wrath endures but the twinkling of an eye, *
his favor for a lifetime.
6 Weeping may spend the night, *
but joy comes in the morning.
7 While I felt secure, I said,“I shall never be disturbed. *
You, Lord, with your favor, made me as strong as the mountains.”
8 Then you hid your face, *
and I was filled with fear.
9 I cried to you, O Lord; *
I pleaded with the Lord, saying,
10 “What profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the Pit? *
will the dust praise you or declare your faithfulness?
11 Hear, O Lord, and have mercy upon me; *
O Lord, be my helper.”
12 You have turned my wailing into dancing; *
you have put off my sack-cloth and clothed me with joy.
13 Therefore my heart sings to you without ceasing; *
O Lord my God, I will give you thanks for ever
> Response to the first reading. Theme of restoration.
I Corinthians (9:24-27)
Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one. So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified.
> Striving to reach the goal.
A leper came to Jesus begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.
> Leprosy could have meant a variety of skin diseases, many of which were not contagious.
> The man kneels before Jesus and challenges him.
> Jesus touching him was a radical act since anyone with leprosy was to be completely avoided.
> The man was “immediately” made clean.
> He had to show himself to the priest before readmission to society.