Greetings to all as we face one of the craziest celebrations of Easter that most of us have ever seen. I am confident that it will not be long before we can worship together and I would ask that in your Good Friday prayers and fasts that you pray for those affected by COVID-19, our healthcare workers, the spiritual and economic state of our great country, and that our leaders will put their differences aside and lead the nation. Many are hoping and praying for the discovery of a vaccine to rid us of this virus. As you know, vaccines are sometimes made by taking the actual virus and weakening it and then injecting the very cause of the problem back into the human body. I am reminded of our reading for the second Sunday of Lent this year.
We remember John 3:16, but do we remember what Jesus said to Nicodemus in the verse before this? “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” Jesus is referring to a very strange story in the book of Numbers. Israel had rebelled and God sent a plague of poisonous snakes and many people get bitten, fall sick, and die. Moses intercedes for the people and God tells him to do a very strange thing. Make a bronze snake, put it on a pole and everyone who is bitten can look at it and live. Strangely, the malady becomes the cure; the snake, the means of God’s judgment, becomes the means of God’s salvation.
We are fallen people who live in a fallen world with viruses and many other bad things that result in heartache and death. As we approach a very different Good Friday this year, we remember the one who was lifted up so that all may be rescued. Right there at this most terrible place of torture and punishment, we see ourselves, every man, woman, and child, every last sinning rebellious one of us. The snake has bitten us all. We also see the God who loves us and has taken our place. If God’s own Son has taken our place, then God truly loves us, and there is hope, there is salvation, there is a way out.
For John, “lifted up” is full of meaning. This is the beginning of Jesus ascent, exaltation, and his glory. The instrument of torture will radiate a glory which will draw the world to himself. This is the beginning of Christ’s ascension and ours. From the cross, he takes us with him, reconciled to the Father. Have a blessed Good Friday with your family.