“And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” (v. 14-15).
Not many people love snakes. Except I have an uncle who is fascinated by them. He’s kept them in his house as long as I’ve known him. Did I mention that he’s also a Lutheran minister? I don’t know what to make of that.
Nor do I quite know what to make of Jesus comparing himself to a bronze snake being lifted up in the wilderness so that all who look to him will have life…life today, not after they die. So, Jesus is like a bronze poisonous snake fixed to a wooden pole. What’s that about?
Let’s see. A serpent showed up in the Garden of Eden, hanging on a tree. Two people looked to it – tried to follow it and they fell. They lost their abundant life. Strike one.
The children of Israel got impatient with Moses in Numbers 21. That’s not a good idea. You don’t mess with Moses. They complained about the food and water so God sent poisonous snakes to bite them. See what I mean? Don’t complain about what is put in front of you or God will punish you. That’s what it says. God didn’t even cook the food. Imagine what God would do if you complained about something divinely made…like the weather.
How is Jesus like a harmless (bronze) poisonous snake on a pole – that if the real poisonous snakes bite you, you should look at the harmless poisonous snake and live? Let’s try something different.
The law is like a serpent. It bites you when you try to step over it. Everybody hates snakes. Everybody hates the law telling them what to do. In Romans 7, Paul talks about the law bringing death. To the Colossians 2:14 he said, “having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” Maybe the law is a poisonous serpent that brings death when we aren’t happy with the pitiful life Moses gives us. Nothing to nourish us. Some would argue that point. But take that up with the apostle.
About the only law that I can think of that is harmless is love. Still, humans hate all snakes like they hate all laws. Even love.
So lift Love up on a pole. Look to it. It may look fearsome but it has no teeth or poison to hurt you. In fact, it’s the antidote. And you will have eternal life…you will get better, today.
Your guess is as good as mine. What do you think?