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Simple Words—Great Gifts

In the Bible we are told how Naaman, the commander of
the Syrian army, came to Elisha the prophet to be healed of leprosy (2 Kings 5).

Elisha did not even come out of his house to meet Naaman but sent a servant with a set of simple directions. Naaman was to go to the Jordan River and there wash himself seven times.

High-ranking official that he was, Naaman was at first insulted by Elisha’s conduct and seemingly foolish directions. He went away in a rage. But Naaman’s servants were wiser. What the prophet had told him to do was so simple and easy, so why not do it? After all, if the prophet had told him to do something hard—say, to climb a high mountain—Naaman probably would have done it.

The Syrian commander decided that they had a point. He went to the Jordan and washed seven times in its waters.

Naaman’s diseased and wasted flesh was restored so that it was like that of a child! He knew the source of the healing power. He returned to Elisha, exclaiming, “Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel.”

It is God’s way to work through channels and instruments that are simple, seemingly weak, and even foolish to man’s way of thinking.

We see this also in the sacraments that Jesus has given us. Holy Baptism appears to be no more than the application of a little water and the speaking of a few words. But what does the Bible say of it? It is “the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).

The same is true of the sacrament of Holy Communion. It appears to be no more than the eating of a bite of simple bread, the drinking of a single sip of grape wine, and the recitation of a few words, “Take, eat; this is the true body of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, given into death for your sins…Take, drink; this is the true blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, shed for the remission of your sins.”

But what does the
Bible say of it?

The cup of wine, together with the words of Christ, is “the cup of blessing…the communion of the blood of Christ,” that is, a real sharing in the blood that He shed on the cross to redeem us.

The bread that we receive together with the words of Christ is “the communion of the body of Christ,” that is, an actual receiving of Christ’s body, the very body that He offered on the cross as a sacrifice to God to atone for our sins (1 Corinthians 10:15).

Christ’s instructions to His disciples about Holy Communion could not be simpler. In effect
He says, “Do this; eat bread and drink wine and say the words that
I have said.”

Human reaction to these simple instructions can often be similar to Naaman’s first reaction to Elisha’s directions for healing from leprosy. “What can a little bread and wine and a few words do for me?” people ask. “It must be just a symbol, a picture, a reminder,” some say.

What they do not take into account is the power of words spoken by the Son of God. The
New Testament reveals that the Son of God is the Word by whom all things were made (John 1:3; Hebrews 1:1,2). There too it was also with just a few words,
“Let there be….”

By telling us that He is the Creator is not Christ saying to us, “Don’t underestimate the power of words that come from My mouth, though they be simple and few”?

Is He not telling us not to
despise the simple things that
He has told us to do?

Is He not teaching us that the power in Holy Communion is not in what we do but in the words He has given us to use with the eating
of bread and drinking of wine?

We admit that what we do in Holy Communion is small and weak. But we also insist that what Christ does for us in His Word is mighty. His Word is powerful.

With it the Holy Spirit awakens in us faith in Christ, and by faith the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given to us.