Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
The Necessity of The Cross
Vs14 “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him”.
In this passage, Jesus has a personal encounter with Nicodemus, a senior ranking official within the Jewish council. He was a Pharisee, wealthy, and a learned teacher of the law. The events occurred in Chapter 2:13-25 would have prompted him to approach Jesus the divine Master at night. What he saw and what he heard stimulated a hunger with in his soul to seek more truth about the kingdom of God. Jesus knew what was in the heart of Nicodemus and what he needed when he came at night. Hence, Jesus revealed to this enthusiastic Pharisee that the concept of the Kingdom of God is universal, not just for the Jews, nor national or ethnic. And its entrance requirements are personal repentance and spiritual rebirth. The little phrase ‘born again’ literally means ‘to be born from above’. It carries the idea of getting a fresh start, a new life from heaven.
This event reminds us that Jesus knows all about us. No matter how intelligent and well educated we are, we must come to the foot of the Cross with an open mind and heart, so that He could enlighten our heart with new insights and foresights.
Further, detailing Jesus used the event from the Old Testament (Numbers 21:4-9) as an illustration of His own death for sinners on the Cross of Calvary (John 3:14-15). The events in this passage occur very near the end of Israel’s journey through the wilderness. During the wilderness experience, God had been faithful to walk with them, fed them with Manna every day, led them from place to place and protected them from their enemies. But often they Rejected God’s Person (Vs.5) “And the people spoke against God”. They even disregarded God’s promise that He would bring them in to the land of milk and honey. They doubted the faithfulness of God (Rom 3:3-4). It displeased the Lord. This is what the lost world does every day, reject His authority and refuse to bow to His will.
Hopeless and Helpless Situation: Look and Live
Because of Israel’s rebellion, God sent a plague of snakes to punish the people. Throughout the Bible the snake is a symbol of sin, evil and rebellion against God. They bit the people and many died. The Israelites chose to do something about the situation. They came to Moses and said ‘we sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you’. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us’ (Numbers 21:7). Those doomed to die from snakebite could be healed by obeying God’s command to look up at the elevated bronze snake. Here we see their conviction, confession and contrition.
This lent, reminds us to look back, acknowledge and admit the wrong things we have done against the will of God and against our fellow beings. When we come to the foot of the Cross, and meditate up on the word of God, the Holy Spirit will lead you to true conviction and confession. It will lead you to a true repentance. The word ‘Matanoia’ is used for the enthusiastic repentance in the Bible. It refers to a change of mind that leads to change of action or attitude. Everyone who looked up and they lived.
Hopeless and Helpless Situation: Believe and be Saved
The New Testament offers ‘believe and be saved’ (John 3:16, Acts 16:31). Let him take the water of life freely (Rev 22:17). God’s love is not static or self-centred. As the whole world is going through a pandemic period, we could evaluate that it is the result of our unhealthy attitude against God’s will, against the environment and against our fellow beings. Many families in almost all nations are being affected by the bites of this poisonous snake (COVID 19). Jesus explained that just as the Israelites were healed of their sickness by looking at the elevated bronze snake, all people today can be saved by looking at the elevated ‘God’s Love’ ,the Cross-the old rugged Cross.
A lent observance that is anything less than a return in faith to the Lord is only a religious game and worth less than nothing. It is not just the remembrance of an event, but rather an open invitation for us to participate in the life and events of Christ. And it should draw near to the saviour who was wounded for our transgressions, and in whose stripes, we find healing.
Loving God, thank you for sending your son for each one of us. What great love you showed us! Enable us to fix our eyes on Jesus in our everyday life. May we never take your extraordinary love for granted, but in turn, love you and our fellow brothers and sisters well. Amen!
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
Sadhu Sunder Singh describes God’s Love as: “When I throw a stone at the fruit tree, the fruit tree throws no stone back, instead it gives me fruit. Is it not perfect love?”
REV. JOSEPH CHACKO
Christian Education Forum, Diocese of NAE of the Mar Thoma Church