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The account of Naaman in 2nd Kings is a fun one. Naaman goes to Israel to be cleansed of his leprosy. He first goes to the king and the king thinks that the king of Syria is trying to start a war with him. Before Naaman can go back to Syria, he is told to go to the prophet Elisha. Naaman went to Elisa and the prophet sent out one of his servants to tell Naaman to wash seven times in the Jordan river and he will be cleaned. Naaman first resisted, but then his servants brought him to the Jordan and he washed seven times and his skin was like that of a new born baby. After reading it again this morning, I continued reading after the account of Naaman's cleanse and read the account of Gehazi. Gehazi was Elisha's servant and he thought it was silly that Elisha didn't accept any payment or gift from Naaman. He therefore went after Naaman and lied to him and got money and goods from him. When Gehazi returned to Elisha, he lied and said he wasn't doing anything. Elisha knew what he had done and said, " “Did not my heart go when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Was it a time to accept money and garments, olive orchards and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male servants and female servants? 27 Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and to your descendants forever.” So he went out from his presence a leper, like snow"(2nd Kings 5:26-27).
Elisha says that Naaman's leprosy will be put on Gehazi. When we read this account, it seems like Naaman's leprosy just disappears or is washed away by the waters. Yes, Naaman washing in the Jordan is a symbol of Holy Baptism and how in Baptism our sins are washed away. Where do our sins go in Baptism and in Holy Absolution? Do they stay in the waters, or does God just act like those sins never happend? Well, if we read the account of Naaman, the leprosy was off Naaman, and then Elisha put the leprosy on Gehazi. The Scriptures don't tell us where the leprosy was in the mean time, but it ends with Gehazi having it. This can guide us in a meditation on the reality that our sin, once taken away from us, has a location, and the location of our sin is Jesus Himself. For St. John the Baptist says, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who bears the sin of the world" (John 1:29). Sin is not an abstract thing, but rather a very real thing, a real transgression, that is either on us or on Jesus.
If our sin is on us, then we bear the burden of it. If we justify our sins, make excuses for our transgressions, or treat our failures like they were no big deal, then we have to answer for our sin on the last day. We will have to make our own defense before our heavenly Father if we bear our own sins and make self-justifications for them. However, this defense will not work because we are sinful and God is righteous. But, Jesus is our sin bearer. He is the one that takes our sins from us, assumes them as His very own transgressions, and make satisfaction on the cross for them. Jesus claims our sins, claims our failures, our weaknesses, our leprous thoughts, words, and deeds, and He made atonement for us on the cross and satisfied the wrath of the Father against sinners like you and me. Jesus claims our sins, takes the leprosy from us, and makes our sin His own.
So now, when the devil comes to rub your sin in your face, you can tell him that he has the wrong address, for your sin is no longer your's, but Christ's burden to bear. The devil deals no longer with you, but with Jesus, and Jesus has overcome the devil forever. The world accuses you no more in Jesus, for He bears your failures, short-comings, and weaknesses. Your sin is now Jesus' sin. This is our comfort. Now, on the Last Day, we don't make a defense for ourselves, but Jesus defends us and takes the guilty sentence in order that the Father may declare us innocent and welcome us into life eternal with Him. In Baptism, Absolution, Holy Communion, the Gospel Preached, and the Consolation of the Brethren, our sin is removed from us just like the Jordan waters removed Naaman's leprosy. In addition to this, just like the leprosy was then placed on Gehazi, our sin goes somewhere and it goes to the person of Jesus The Christ for our salvation. So take heart my friends, in the forgiveness of your sins, your sins now belong to Jesus and He justifies your presence and childhood of both His Father and your Father now and forevermore. Even greater than this, is that because your sins belong to Jesus, His righteousness is now bestowed on you freely, meaning Jesus takes your sins and gives you His righteousness forever.
Peace be with you. May the devil be silenced, the world be hushed, and the Old Adam be drowned anew so that you hear only the voice of your Savior Jesus who says, "I forgive you. I love you. I claim you as My own forever," Amen.