Lift Up the Cross

"And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him. " John 3:13-17

The Israelites were tired, hot and angry at God and Moses for bringing them out into the desert with only scarce food and drink.  They started to complain. (Nm21)

Sometimes we see only a minuscule part of the story.  God had a grand plan to save the chosen people from slavery in Egypt, but some were looking back.  The mere fact they had food and water was already a miracle.  It was unbelievable enough to survive in the harsh wasteland they traveled in.  But they wanted what was familiar, what they've been used to all these years.

When the going gets rough, we often complain.  We have everything we need BUT... If only we had this, life would be perfect.  We are in the middle of God's provisions, whether it be that job you worked hard to get, or the house you paid for, or the relationship you're in, or the children you have, or the government.

Sometimes we don't appreciate that where we are is already so much more than what so many have in their lives.  

"In punishment the LORD sent among the people saraph serpents,
which bit the people so that many of them died.
Then the people came to Moses and said,
“We have sinned in complaining against the LORD and you.
Pray the LORD to take the serpents from us.”

Complaining is a call to crisis.  Our complaints draw us away from the Lord.  When we complain, we see more and more things to complain about and discouragement sets in.

On the same day this was part of the church readings, I spent some time watching the Asian Food Channel.  Anthony Bourdain went to Vietnam (where I quite recently was) and sampled cobra's heart (still beating), and eventually he ate all the other parts of the snake.  He felt quite strong afterwards.  Eeeeewww.

I thought that was interesting that in church there was a bronze serpent raised up and then I saw a show about snakes.

Snakes usually represent evil, sin, rebellion, fear, danger.  For me it speaks of temptation.  

"So Moses prayed for the people, and the LORD said to Moses,
“Make a saraph and mount it on a pole,
and if any who have been bitten look at it, they will live.”
Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole,
and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent
looked at the bronze serpent, he lived."

The Israelites were made aware that their complaining brought on the snakes.  They were told to look up at the snake and they would be healed and survive.

What does it mean for us today?  

People's hearts are full of evil, sin, rebellion, fear, danger and temptation.  Maybe we need to look at these things so we can be free of them.  Blindness to these things can be our downfall.

Someone wise and wonderful once said...

"Jesus took our sins to the cross and accepted crucifixion to save us from those sins.  We need to look to His glory on the cross and acknowledge that it is our sins which He bore there. Why is He there?  Because of our hardened, complaining hearts.  Because of our sloth, our anger--because of all of our sins.  Let us look at them and know that the price of those sins was Jesus' life.  At the same time, let us look at Him who "loved us to the end" in order to free us and in awe-filled gratitude determine to leave those sins at the cross for good and for all!"

We can be free to receive God's promises just like the Israelites who were able to reach the promised land.  So long as we lift up the cross of Christ our Saviour!

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Calej lives in Japan with her husband. She designs and doodles for a living.


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