Divine Service I, Page 136, Lutheran Worship
Listen to Today’s Sermon:
Elisha sent a messenger to say to Naaman, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.” But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage. – 2 Kings 5:10-12
Expectations are a powerful force. When you go to a movie that you are expecting to be very good, and find out that it is mediocre, you are disappointed. When you walk into the house expecting pizza for dinner, only to find out it is liver and onions, you may discover you aren’t as hungry as you thought.
Naaman had expectations. He had leprosy. And he traveled a great distance with the expectation that he would be healed by the prophet in Israel. As part of his expectation he expected a great show of power by the prophet of God. It didn’t happen that way. Instead, he was told to wash himself in the muddy Jordan River. Not exactly what he was expecting.
Sometimes we do the same thing to God. We grow in our expectation of what he is going to do, only to discover our expectations were not met by him. We may expect God to make us comfortably wealthy, only to discover that we struggle to pay our bills. We may expect God to give us peaceful quiet only to be diagnosed with cancer. We may expect God to do any number of things, only to discover that it hasn’t happened the way we thought it would. We might expect that we can wash away our own guilt by being nice, only to discover that the guilt still remains.
God’s entire plan to save us is not what we expected. God becoming man incarnate is not what we would expect. God dying on a cross and calling it a victory is not what we would expect. Yet that is exactly what God did. And he gives that victory to us for free. What we cannot do on our own our God has already done for us by cleansing us of our sins. This 2010 Lenten season reflect on God’s grace through His Son’s suffering and death on the cross for our salvation. It exceeds our greatest expectations.
Naaman was finally convinced by his servant to go and wash in the Jordan. And after he had finished bathing, his leprosy was gone and a new found faith in the true God is revealed by his actions. So also our God does the unexpected for us. Mercifully he washes away our sins and makes us clean. Graciously he then gives us faith in Jesus as our Savior.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you work in unexpected ways. Give me the strength to hold on to the forgiveness you won for me by dying on a cross. Amen.
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Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. – Psalm 51:1-5
In the Old Testament it was common practice for individuals to show sorrow over sin by wearing sackcloth and sitting in ashes. It was an attempt to show on the outside the misery that was going on inside. As Christians celebrate Ash Wednesday, we continue to be sorrowful over the sins we have committed.
The writer of Psalm 51, King David, had reason to be sorrowful over his sin. 2 Samuel 11,12 paint an ugly picture of David the sinner. He slept with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite, and she became pregnant. After attempts to cover up the affair failed, he arranged to have Uriah killed. David’s sin was horrible and damnable.
David asked for forgiveness that he knew he did not deserve. So rather than trying to candy-coat his actions, he was honest. He admits sin, iniquity, transgression and evil which had affected and infected him from the time he was born. David did not deserve to be forgiven, so he simply threw himself on God’s mercy begging for forgiveness. It was a forgiveness that God freely gave him.
Ash Wednesday is a day for all to be honest with God about sin. We also need to admit sin, iniquity, transgression and evil that have come from our sinful hearts. But this is also the start of Lent. Lent is a Christian season when we consider the payment Jesus made for our sin. As we follow Jesus to the cross on Calvary, we see God’s undeserved love and mercy which he offers to all people.
Join King David this Ash Wednesday in confessing your sin. Be assured that through Jesus Christ you have been forgiven! Our Ash Wednesday services are this week Wednesday at 10:00 AM and 7:30. Come for this special worship.
Prayer: Almighty and merciful Father, you freely forgive those who, as David of old, acknowledge and confess their sins. Create in me a pure heart, and wash away all my sins in the blood of your dear Son, Jesus Christ my Savior and Lord. Amen.