Back in the day when my kids were is school, Day 100, the one hundredth day of school, was a big event. I can remember counting out 100 lollipops for them to take in to class on that day. Seeing and counting out the lollipops really helped the kids (and ME!!) get a good, solid grasp of the concept of 100. Today was Day 100 for me!!!
One hundred days ago I started attending a women’s discipleship group in my church and began to read my Bible more relationally. As I read every day, I take notes on what I read and write my responses. My responses are directed to the one who breathed the Word. The response might take the form of a question, a confession, a praise – depends what I read. Because I tend to read pretty fast, I have intentionally limited myself to reading only one chapter per day – my purpose is to really let the Word soak into my mind and heart; I want to know the author and let His word change me, not just get to a certain goal. It has been a great “100 Days”!
How appropriate it was for me to read John Chapter 3 today, Day 100. Many of the words in this chapter were already familiar and much loved but I had to pause at one verse, verse 14, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; “.
Jesus is referring an incident described in Numbers 21. The Israelites were grumbling against God and Moses – again! God sends fiery serpents into the camp, the snake bite caused intense pain and death. When Moses intercedes on their behalf God instructs Moses to make a fiery serpent on a standard and lift it up for all to see. Those who look at this bronze serpent will live…
Nicodemus would have known exactly what Jesus was describing but the imagery is not so common to us. In the days of the Romans a standard was a long pole with a crosspiece – usually holding a flag or a plaque. A standard was used to indicate the army company, cohort or division; there was often a metal emblem at the top of the pole. An army would follow their standard into battle or during a victory parade so the standard had to be tall enough to be visible at a distance. The standard had to be carried straight up in the air so all could see. The standard looked like a large cross. Moses was told to put a bronze serpent on the standard, bronze in the Bible often indicates judgement. Anyone bitten by the fiery serpent had to look to the standard to be healed.
The implication of Jesus’ reference to this event was a reminder to me of the incredible healing power found at the foot of the cross of Christ, especially after being bitten by the fiery serpent! Because the Son of Man was lifted up on a cross:
- my severed relationship with God can now be healed.
- my sins can be forgiven.
- damaged relationships can be healed.
- broken hearts can be healed.
- and yes, sometimes, physical illnesses can be healed.
There are some who will not look at the cross, some who will not look to Jesus. There are some who would rather seek “Retail Therapy”, pop a pill, stop for a drink or 2 or 3. All of these solutions will work, for a day or just a moment but then the pain, the disappointment, the disillusion returns – those that have been bitten by the serpent may look and act alive, but inside they are dying.
In Numbers 21, God said to simply look at the cross and be healed. Jesus tells Nicodemus to do the same thing and John records Jesus words for us too. Jesus also tells Nicodemus (John 3:15) “…so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.” Looking up at the cross can bring healing today and believing in Him who died on the cross gives the gift of eternal life…My relational response to these Bible verses?? 100 lollipops? Temporary treats! Eternity in heaven? The Greatest Gift!! Girlfriends, I’m RUNNIN’ to the Cross!!