Fourth Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 9

Track 1: My Rivers Are Better than Yours

2 Kings 5:1-14
Psalm 30
Galatians 6:(1-6)7-16
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

Most of us probably remember the account of Naaman of the Old Testament. He was the commander of the army of the king of Aram,   He was in high favor with his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram.

Naaman, unfortunately, had leprosy.. A young girl captive from the land of Israel, who served Naaman’s wife said that there was prophet in Samaria who could cure him of his leprosy. Naaman told his king who said, “Go then, and I will send along a letter to the king of Israel.”  (2 Kings 5:5)

Reading from 2 Kings:

Naaman 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.   (2 Kings 5:6-10)

Naaman was not prepared for this response from Elisha. The prophet did not greet him properly, or acknowledge his highly esteemed position he enjoyed in his own country:

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.    (2 Kings 5:11-12)

Fortunately, the wisdom of his servants prevailed:

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.   (2 Kings 5:13-14)

Naaman almost lost his healing because he did not understand the greatness of God. God is our healer and not any human who may be used as an intermediary. Moreover. whatever standards which we expect God to accord us is immaterial. God has his own standards that we should meet. Do we tell God that “my rivers are better than yours?”

Proverbs warns:

When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but wisdom is with the humble.   (Proverbs 11:2)

God spoke to the Prophet Micah:

He has told you, O mortal, what is good,
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice and to love kindness
and to walk humbly with your God?   (Micah 6:8)

When it comes to healing, we leave everything in the hands of God. He is sovereign. We need to listen carefully to him and obey his commandments and directions. All we need to do is keep thanking hm. We do not need to make judgments or listen to the opinions of others, just our believing Christian physician.

The psalmist wrote:

I will exalt you, O Lord,
because you have lifted me up
and have not let my enemies triumph over me.

O Lord my God, I cried out to you,
and you restored me to health.

You brought me up, O Lord, from the dead;
you restored my life as I was going down to the grave.

Sing to the Lord, you servants of his;
give thanks for the remembrance of his holiness.

For his wrath endures but the twinkling of an eye,
his favor for a lifetime.

Weeping may spend the night,
but joy comes in the morning.   (Psalm 30:1-6)

 

Track 2: Lambs into the Midst of Wolves

Isaiah 66:10-14
Psalm 66:1-8
Galatians 6:(1-6)7-16
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

Would ew say that evangelism is the most important mission of the Church? Certainly the commission that Jesus gave his disciples just prior to his ascension would indicate this to be true:

Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved, but the one who does not believe will be condemned.   (Mark 16:14-16

How do we do evangelism? This is how Jesus began his earthly ministy:

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the good news of God and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near repent, and believe in the good news.   (Mark 1:14-15)

Repentance is part of thr good news. Sin must be addressed. Certain post modern churches and seeker churches say we must go easy on the need for repentance, at least initialing, because people may take offense.

Jesus prepared the areas he would be visiting by sending out advance teams. He said that they must be prepared to experience offense:

The Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, `Peace to this house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you.   (Luke 10:1-6)

Our ministry must be performed in the peace of God and not that of the world. As evangelists we need to remember that we are  ambassadors of Christ. If we are looking for personal affirmation and acceptance we are no longer speaking for him. Jesus said:

Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.   (Luke 10:16)

We must be prepared for rejection. We should not be looking for the acceptance of ourselves, but the acceptance of the Gospel. Rejection is [art of our cross. Jesus said:.

and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it

“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.   (Matthew 10:38-40)

Who are the wolves that Jesus warned us about? Perhaps they are some of 8s. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught:

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns or figs from thistles?   (Matthew 7:15-15)

If we have sheltered people from the offense of the Gospel, then we have been false teachers and prophets. What has been the fruit of this sheltering? A deed church? The people we shelter might eventually become church leaders. They will oppose thy Gospel at every hand.

The Apostle Paul wrote his student Timothy::

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage with the utmost patience in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound teaching, but, having their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. As for you, be sober in everything, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.   (2 Timothy 4:1-5)

This type of evangelism got results:

The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”   (Luke 10:17-20)

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Filed under homily, Jesus, lectionary, liturgical preaching, liturgy, Pentecost, preaching, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, sermon development, Year C

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