The Serpent and the Cross

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

I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am He, you will indeed die in your sins.
(John 8:24)

We need resistance to get across
Life’s trials, problems and pressures;
Better to bear the weight of the Cross
Than the fat of the world’s pleasures.

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 He, you will indeed die in your sins.” “Who are you?” they asked. Jesus replied, “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning. I have much to say in judgment of you. But He who sent me is trustworthy, 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 He 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 believed in Him. (John 8: 21-30)

Reflection

Jesus told his listeners: “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He…” (Jn 8:28). Earlier (in John 3:15), 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.” 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 (Numbers 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. Ironically, from the deadly serpent also comes the healing antidote. 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.

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.

One Response to “The Serpent and the Cross”

  1. Melvin  on May 18th, 2011

    The Tree Bears Jesus. So Jesus is the fruit on the Tree in the middle of the garden that God says that we should not eat from or we will die.

    The Serpent speaks from the stick. The Serpent says take in Jesus and you positively will not die. Sound familiar.

    The serpent has poisoned the World. You have all been deceived. Now for the cure, the anti-venom.

    The cure is that the Jews are right and it says so right in the Book of Genesis in the story about Adam and Eve.