Sunday, 6 June 2010

Jesus the snake

I love how the Old Testament and New Testament work with each other.  Often this works with Jesus telling a parable referencing the OT or by Paul referencing it in one of his letters.  However, my favourite way they work together is when an Old Testament event foreshadows the New Testament, like with Moses' snake.
A snake strewn cross set upon Mt Nebo, Jordan.
In Numbers 21:4-9 we learn of one episode as Moses lead the Israelites through the desert after their escape from slavery in Egypt.  Once, as at many times, they get impatient and fed up, speaking against God who, through Moses, has been leading them and sustaining them for years.

Punishing them for this, God sends venomous snakes to them, injuring and even killing some of them and when they duly repent, God commands Moses to create a bronze snake, putting it in a stick and lift it up.  The inflicted Israelites merely have to look at the raised up snake and be healed.

This is strange as the snake is synonymous with sin (see Genesis 3) and in this case is the cause of the Israelites' pain and suffering.  Let us see ourselves as the Israelites and the snakes as the sin in this world: this is how Jesus is the snake.  In John 3:14 Jesus even likens himself to this very snake, that everyone who looks on him and believes in him will have eternal life.

All of us suffer from sin and the consequence of that is pain and suffering (or we are all attacked by the snakes and are suffering from them) but God has made someone to be sin and has raised him high so that all who look on him will have eternal life (or has made a snake that, with one look, can heal)!

Love it!