So That No One Can Boast
I stumbled upon this artist, Cody F. Miller, while browsing the web and I love his work. He creates with cut paper and paint, which explains the unique look. In his artist’s statement, he says, “The paintings I have created are my thoughts on the rich and complex message of God handed down throughout history from less than perfect people.”
This painting is based on a story in 2 Kings, which Jesus refers in this week’s text (Luke 4:21-30) as an example of how God sent his prophets to “outsiders” which made the “insiders” of Jesus’ hometown more than a bit crabby.
Briefly, the story is that Naaman, a commander of the army of the king, was a great man and highly regarded. But he had leprosy. He decides to go to Israel to speak to the prophet Elisha so that he may be cured. He took with him a letter of recommendation from the king and gold and silver and expensive clothing. And when Naaman and his horses and chariots stop outside the door of Elisha, Elisha doesn’t even come out to greet them. Instead, he tells a messenger to tell Naaman to wash in the Jordan River and he will be cleansed.
Well, Naaman is furious and insulted and he stomps off, but his servants catch up to him and say, “If the prophet had asked you to do something hard and heroic, wouldn’t you have done it? Why not do this simple command of ‘wash and be clean’?” So, he finally listens. He washes in the Jordan and is cured.
Why was Naaman so furious? I think it is because his pride was hurt. He was expecting to have to prove his worth to Elisha. He wanted to show off his wealth of gold, silver, horses, and chariots. He wanted to show he was important with a letter from the king. He was offended because any idiot can wash in the Jordan River. A man of his valor and importance should have to do more and can prove that he is more.
Being Human connection: We, too, may feel that to receive God’s cleansing salvation, we need to do more. We should have to prove our worth, bring along our letters of recommendations. But grace is not earned, you see. We don’t have to prove a thing. All we have to do is admit we need cleansing and then be open enough to receive it.
Featured image: Cody F. Miller, “Naaman healed in the Jordan River,” Original Mixed Media, 2019, www.codyfmiller.com, used with the artist’s permission.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9.