February 20, 2016: Naaman
None of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian (v. 27).
As Jesus burst upon the local scene and quickly became famous throughout Galilee, how proud his neighbors and friends and relations were of him!
But it didn’t last. He saw through their excessive praises to their hard, unbelieving hearts. In the early part of that synagogue service in Nazareth “all spoke well of him.” We can imagine the approving nods, nudges, and whispers around the congregation. They were puzzled by what he said about those verses from Isaiah, but it sounded good. When, however, he turned their attention to an earlier part of their Scriptures, the stories of Elijah and Elisha, their real attitudes were exposed. For their own Bible demonstrated how often God’s blessings had been rejected by his people Israel and given instead to gentile outsiders, like the Sidonian widow who fed Elijah, and the Syrian general Naaman whom Elisha healed. Likewise, Jesus’ own neighbors were in danger of losing out to people they despised.
We too need to beware of enjoying the nice bits of Scripture and rejecting what makes us uncomfortable. But we can also put ourselves in Naaman’s shoes rather than those of the Nazarenes, and be hugely thankful that the gospel’s blessing has come to us, outsiders who had no claim on it.
Prayer: Lord, is my attitude to the good news more like Nazareth’s or like Naaman’s?
Today’s devotional was written by Michael Wilcock, a retired pastor in the Church of England. This Lenten series comes from Words of Hope, whose mission is to build the church in the hard places through media. To learn more about the organization or subscribe to Words of Hope’s daily devotions, visit www.woh.org.