“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up.” (John 3:14)
Today we celebrate the cross not as a crude element of murder and shame but as the object of the victory of Christ over death; the object on which Christ prophesied he would draw all men to himself. Just as a tree was the source of man’s downfall, it became necessary that when God was restoring man to himself in Christ; correcting the error of the first man, a tree (the cross) would play such a vital role as it did in the passion and death of Christ. When Christ carried the cross, he was actually carrying the tree (the forbidden fruit) back to its original state as a source of life.
Again, as Jesus himself said in our Gospel passage today, what Moses did in the wilderness foreshadows the cross of Calvary. Mankind like the people of Israel, rebelled against God by choosing evil over good, thereby bringing upon themselves death. In the cross of Calvary, God decided to bring healing, restoration and life again to man in the same way he asked Moses to erect the bronze serpent in the wilderness. Is there any area of your life you desire healing? Then just take your gaze at the cross.
The story has it that when Christianity became accepted as the official religion of Rome, Helen who was the mother of the reigning emperor decided to go to Israel to see things for herself. She eventually found three crosses around the site where the crucifixion took place and in other to know the exact one on which Jesus was crucified; they brought in a very sick man and placed him on the crosses only for him to get cured instantly on one particular cross.
Just as we can no longer look down on the cross, so also we dare not look down on what we have to suffer if such suffering is due to our desire to serve God. When I sat down to look at the Crucifix before preparing this message, I noticed certain details: One – the size of the cross compared to the size of Christ hanging on it. It dawned on me that our crosses are always going to be bigger than us.
Two – the look on Jesus’ face; the fact that he wasn’t frowning. I got the message that we can only carry our cross with hearts free of bitterness. Three – the people at the foot of the cross. While the crowd jeered and mocked, soldiers did their job, Jews supervised, Mary the Mother of Jesus was there supporting her son with a loving maternal gaze. It dawned on me that when we suffer, the crowd will never support us but one person we can always trust to be on our side is Mary, the Mother of God.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, thank you for the healing power of your Cross and those I carry daily for your sake. Amen.Bible Study: Numbers 21:4-9, Psalm 78, Philippians 2:6-11 and John 3:13-17).