20th April 2019

The Venom of Sin

“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
John 3:14-15 (NIVUK)

Nicodemus had surreptitiously come to Jesus during the night. He found himself in a challenging conversation with him, which included Jesus’ reference to Moses and the snake. Nicodemus would have been well aware of what Jesus was alluding to: it was an event that took place as the Israelites had been travelling around the desert for years. They were not just grumbling – they were in a major anti-Moses mood, and this time included God in it as well. They were of the opinion that they had been brought out to die in a wilderness without food and water. Probably not for the first time, they announced that they didn’t consider manna a proper food and they loathed it.

The result of this rebellion was that they were invaded by poisonous snakes, and people started dying—maybe those of the generation that God had said would not enter the Promised Land. That triggered a change of heart: we’ve sinned against God and you, Moses, they confessed, please would you pray that God takes these snakes away. God heard Moses, but he didn’t do the obvious and remove the snakes; in fact the danger remained and there was no medical antidote. He told Moses to make a bronze serpent and put it on a pole. All anyone who was bitten had to do was just look up at the snake on the pole and they would be healed.

Jesus was telling Nicodemus that He was the one who would take the venom of sin away. The pole was to come back, erected outside the city walls. In the desert of our world Jesus, the sinless Saviour would be lifted up; he would become like the snake on the pole, bringing healing for a sin-bitten, dying world. Just as God did not remove the snakes, Jesus did not come to remove us from the dangers: he came to save us from those death-bringing bites. Moses didn’t tell the Israelites to look at the snake on the pole and then go home and put a poultice on the bite. Just as all the Israelites had to do was come to the pole and look, so the start of our healing comes by turning and looking in the right direction—to Jesus on the cross.

Prayer
Our thanks and praise to you, our Father, that you have brought us to the cross of your Son, to receive healing from the poison of our sins.
Amen

Study by Hilary Buck

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About the Author:
Hilary Buck pastors Grace Communion in Lewes.
Like us on www.facebook.com/GCLewes

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion – Lewes
The House of Friendship
208 High Street
LEWES
BN7 2NS

Meeting Time:
Sunday 11:00am

Local Congregational Contact:
Hilary Buck
Email: hilaryjbuck@gmail.com

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