For Sunday March 11
Snakes get a bad rap in the Bible. A snake becomes the tempter in the Garden of Eden and consequently God curses the snake, speaking of on-going enmity between snakes and humans. But a bronze snake became a symbol of God’s saving grace. This goes back to the story in Numbers where people are healed of their snakebite by looking at the bronze snake set up on a pole for all to see. This is taken up by John in chapter 3, verse 14, with reference to the crucifixion of Jesus. It is likened to Jesus on the cross. Whoever believes in him is healed of the sin snakebite that threatens them. Look to Jesus and know life, real life. Incidentally the ancient Greeks also used a snake on a pole known as the Rod of Asclepius as a symbol for healing, a symbol still used by the medical profession today. But the basic understanding, as expressed by Paul in Ephesians 2, is that all humans have been bitten by the satanic serpent and consequently have died in their relationship with God. That is seen as the real death. They are driven by their own, self-centred passions and desires, not by the Spirit of God. Yet those who put their faith in Jesus are raised to new life. This is not their own doing; it is by the grace of God. They are raised to a life of good works. So the ancient story from the Book of Numbers becomes a parable of salvation. Through Jesus we are raised to true life which John called eternal life; that is, life beyond that death which is the regular condition of people who are suffering from the snakebite of sin.
- What do you know about snakebite and how to treat it?
- What do you think of the suggestion that Satan’s temptation is like snakebite? With Numbers 21:4-9 in mind, what does it say about sin?
- What is meant by saying that Jesus is the cure for humanity’s sin sickness?
- What does John 3:17-21 say about divine judgment?