The Process of Redemption

John 8: 21-30
Num 21: 4-9 / Psa 102

You belong to this world, but I do not belong to this world. That is why I told you that you will die in your sins.
(John 8:23-24)

Before Your cross, is my reflection:
In my trials and tribulation,
Lord I share in Your crucifixion
As a process of my redemption.

Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.” This made the Jews ask, “Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come’?” But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.” “Who are you?” they asked. “Just what I have been claiming all along,” Jesus replied. “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is reliable, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.” They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” Even as he spoke, many put their faith in him.

Reflection

Jesus told his listeners: “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM… ” (8:28). Earlier, He had told them: “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.” (John 3:15)

The followers of Jesus did not understand that he was predicting His own crucifixion, being “lifted up” on the cross in Calvary. Even when He cited the bronze serpent that Moses made for the Israelites to gaze up to in order to be saved from snake bites (Num 21:4-9), His words remained a mystery to them. It was only after the apostles had been enlightened by the Holy Spirit in Pentecost would they see the powerful significance of the cross of Jesus in their lives.

The souls of those who do not look up to the cross of Jesus, the symbol of our salvation, are truly in danger of dying in the poison of their sins.

I used to wonder about the significance of the saraph — the symbol of a snake coiled around a cup that is seen in the signboards of pharmacies. Someone once told me it symbolized the venom from the snake which is the only antidote for snake bites. Now I believe the symbol more appropriately recalls the salvation of the Israelites in the desert, who were bitten by poisonous snakes because of their complaints against God and Moses. Ironically, from the deadly poison also comes the healing antidote.

Pharmacies provide the medicines that heal our physical ailments. (“Pharmacy” comes from the Greek word pharmakon, which means “poison”.) In the same way, the cross, which many regard as punishment for sins, is actually the source of spiritual healing and salvation. Those who prefer to “belong in the world” do not want to have anything to do with the cross, because they do not want to face up to their sins. They do not know that the cross is their only hope of salvation.

Thank You, Jesus for giving us the inspiration and the wisdom to persevere in the hope of eternal life with you. These make our crosses in life easier to bear. Amen.

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