The Least Great Thing Ever

It really is the least great thing . . . ever. Odd isn’t it? That something can be both wonderful and unimpressive? It can be common and fantastic? But it’s true.

2 Kings 5 shares the story of Naaman (last week Adam did a fantastic job helping showing Jesus in this story). Naaman was a captain of the army of Aram. He was also a leper. He learns from a Jewish servant girl that a prophet in Israel could cure him of his leprosy. As a result, he jumps at the chance to go to Samaria and find the cure. He even takes great riches to offer in exchange. It is obvious that as Naaman travels to Israel, he is prepared to do whatever it takes to be cured.

But that desire doesn’t last long. Elisha sends word to Naaman that he should dip in the Jordan river seven times (v. 10). Naaman doesn’t approve of this plan (vv. 11–12). Not only was it against his expectations—the Jordan wasn’t the cleanest river.

This is where the story gets interesting. A servant comes to Naaman and convinces him to follow the cure prescribed by Elisha. What is interesting is the difference in how this is translated today. Consider two different translations:

“Then his servants came near and spoke to him and said, “My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?”” 

(2 Kings 5:13, NASB95) “But his servants came near and said to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?”” 

(2 Kings 5:13, ESV) The New American Standard has the servant saying, “ . . . had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it?” In other words, this isn’t very difficult. If he’d ask you to do something difficult and hard you would have done it. Why not do this?

The English Standard Version has the servant saying, “ . . . it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it?” The ESV seems to imply the servant is explaining how great it is that Naaman can be cured. This was great news! His leprosy could be cured.

So which is it? Both. Dipping in the Jordan wasn’t impressive or fantastic. It was common and simple. But the fact that his leprosy would be removed was indeed great news! It was the least great instructions Naaman could have received.

Today, the story of Naaman is always compared to baptism. Rightfully so. And the same is true about baptism. Being baptized into water isn’t a grand amazing fantastic act. It isn’t difficult. It isn’t a “great thing” that God has asked men to do.

BUT . . . it removes the obedient believer’s sins. And that is indeed a GREAT thing! There is nothing greater than having those sins taken away through the blood of Jesus. It is the least great news ever!

If you haven’t been baptized, why not? It’s not a difficult act. But it is great to have your sins removed. Why won’t you do it today?