Reflections: May 10, 2021
Monday of the Sixth Week of Easter
By Alfonso Espinosa
And the LORD said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live." (Numbers 21:8)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. God sent the fiery serpents to the rebellious people of Israel in the wilderness. They were sent to bite the complaining and unfaithful people, to kill them. This was the wrath of God poured out at that time and place. In response to this judgement against sin, the people cried out. They came to Moses and said, "We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you. Pray to the LORD, that He take away the serpents from us" (Numbers 21:7a).
The LORD had mercy on the people and responded in grace toward those who cried out to Him in distress while confessing their sins. But the LORD demonstrated His grace in a really fascinating way: He told Moses to make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, so that when the people looked up to it, they would be healed (Numbers 21:8-9). Let's get this right: The image of the thing that was killing the people was going to save them. Hmmm.
Jesus told Nicodemus, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life" (John 3:14). We have our "fiery serpent," too, and it is just as deadly: our sin. So God did not change His method. He took the thing responsible for our death, our sin, and put it on the Cross. Jesus became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). He was our sin on the Cross. The thing killing us was now up high on a "pole," so that whoever would look at Jesus on the Cross would know what God had done with their deadly sin. It isn't on you anymore. Look up to Jesus, trust in Him, and rejoice. You're saved from your fiery serpents. They were nailed to the Cross of Christ. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
LORD God, our heavenly Father, You stood afar off, waiting to see Your prodigals appear at the gate. Then, running to us, You overwhelmed us with grace and invited us to sit at table, to rejoice at our homecoming. Help us to repent of our sins and strip us of every thought that we might merit Your salvation. Then bring us home to be with You at the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom which has no end; through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our LORD. Amen.
The Rev. Dr. Alfonso Espinosa is the pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine, CA. He is also the author of two books: Faith That Sees Through the Culture and Faith That Engages the Culture.
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