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Have you ever received a painful bite or sting? What got you?
Late one night, Jesus said to one of the Jewish religious leaders named Nicodemus, “As Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.”
Jesus compared himself to a story from the escape epic of God’s people - from slavery in Egypt to salvation in Canaan. This snake story was right near the end of their journey.
The people complained. Again. They didn’t like God’s food - the Manna was getting old. They were thirsty and didn’t like waiting on God for every drink. And they wanted bread. Bread like Egypt. Food like Egypt. Water like Egypt. “Give us Egypt or give us death!”
Had they forgotten what slavery was like?
So, God sent snakes with fiery venom. And the snakes began biting people. And the people began dieing. Lots of people. Lots of death.
The people realised without God, they were surrounded by death. They asked Moses to beg for forgiveness. And God said, “Make a bronze snake. Put it on a pole. Lift it high. Those who look will live.”
And Jesus compares Himself to this bronze serpent, on a pole, lifted up. And He says, “Those who lift their eyes, and look upon Me, will be saved.”
Saved from what?
The serpent from whose bites we all die, the Master of Sin, Satan himself.
We complain about the death all around us. We complain from lack of water - Jesus offers his side. We complain from lack of bread, Jesus offers his body. We complain from lack of life-giving food, Jesus offers his blood. And yet all of this, offered by Jesus on the cross, is useless - unless.
Unless we lift up our eyes. Stop looking at the fiery sores, the sadness, the death - caused by sin and Satan - and look up at Jesus on the cross.
God’s people who lifted their eyes and fixed them on the pole-top serpent Moses held high - were saved, made well and lived. Jesus promised the same for those who drag their gaze away from their sin soaked selves and lift them up, to fix them on Jesus - suspended between Heaven and Earth atop an old wooden cross.
The first time eyes were lifted, to the serpent on the pole - the bites were cured.
The second time eyes were lifted, to the Saviour on the cross - death was defeated.
The third time eyes will be lifted, all believers will rise - forever with Jesus.
It’s a worthy comparison.
If it makes us uncomfortable, good. It should. The wages of sin is death.
If it makes us loosen our self-centered focus, good. It should. The gift of God is eternal life.
If it makes us lift up our eyes, good. It should. It is all and only through Christ Jesus our Lord!
The Dragon, that old serpent from the Garden, Satan has been defeated at the cross. He is now in his death throes. And he still strikes out, indiscriminately, hurting the people whom God loves.
His time is short.
Lift up your eyes.
The Signs of the Times, April 2, 1894