And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up (v. 14).
I love my home church, Takoma Park Baptist in Washington, DC. This church ordained me to the Gospel Ministry. I love its rich diversity of congregants: black and white, rich and poor, government and community leaders, employers and employees.
One of its Advent traditions is decorating a live Christmas tree in the sanctuary with beautiful, handmade Chrismon ornaments. Gazing at those ornaments during worship always enhanced the Christmas season for me.
I confess, however, that I’m not fond of every Chrismon on the tree. I could skip the ornament of a snake twisting around the cross. If you ask me, snakes don’t belong on Christmas trees. Yet that Chrismon always made its appearance, symbolizing both the snake that Moses lifted up in the wilderness and the cross of Calvary on which Jesus died.
Referring to Jesus’ teaching, Nicodemus has just asked, “How can these things be?” (v. 9). Jesus responds by wondering how this Pharisee can believe the truth he seeks: “If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?” (v. 12). Jesus knows that for teaching to become real to us, its truth must be experienced. This why the Word takes on flesh, talks with Nicodemus, and gives life to everyone who seeks him to find it. Just as Moses lifted the serpent on the pole to heal the Israelites, Christ will be lifted up on the cross to become healing love for every person, everywhere.
What truth do you have yet to experience and believe?
Loving, merciful God, thank you for giving your life so that we could find and understand our own. Amen.