Numbers 21: 4-9,
Psalm 107: 1-9,
Ephesians 2: 1-10, and
John 3: 14-21.
Numbers 21:4-9: The events recounted occur during the Exodus from Egypt. Keep in mind all that God has done for His people to rescue them from Egypt, and how He is providing for them by giving them manna. Notice that in spite of all that God has done for them, they complained about God and Moses. In response, the Lord sent fiery serpents to bite the people, causing many to die. When the people saw what had happened, they admitted their sin and asked to have the serpents taken away. Notice that God didn’t take the serpents away, but provided a unique and unusual remedy for the snake bites – He had Moses make a bronze snake and put it on a pole, so that anyone who was bitten would look at the bronze snake and live.
We might be critical of the people of Israel during the Exodus as they complained against God, yet how often do we do the same? God has rescued us in Christ, and do we take His redemption of us for granted, and complain that His blessings are not enough? How often do we get snake-bitten by sin and need to repent?
Psalm 107:1-9: This Psalm begins with familiar words to us – give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, His steadfast love endures forever! This is a wonderful psalm, and I would invite you to read the whole psalm. Several life-threatening situations are listed, and then God’s rescue of the ones whose lives are in danger is recounted, each section ending in thanksgiving to God. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit will open our eyes to see God’s rescue of us, especially in Christ, and let us give Him thanks and praise for His steadfast love.
Ephesians 2:1-10: Notice the condition of the sinner – dead in trespasses and sins (not sick, not dying, but dead). This sounds hopeless. But, with God, all things are possible; through Christ, joined to Him in Baptism, the Lord raises the dead sinner (us) up to new life in Christ. Notice what Paul tells us God does for us in this passage, notice God’s actions – He raises us, who are dead, up with Christ. We are saved by grace. Faith grows as the Holy Spirit takes this Good News and causes us to rejoice in God’s actions on our behalf.
Notice that we are not saved by works, but by grace through faith, but that once God has saved us He has good works for us to do in Christ.
Let us keep the proper order – we who were dead in sin have been saved by grace through faith for the purpose of doing good works.
John 3:14-21: Today’s gospel picks up on the First Reading by referring to the bronze snake Moses made. In this passage Jesus prepares us by telling us that He will be lifted up in crucifixion, and that trusting in Him gives us life.
One of the most precious passages in the Bible is found here – John 3:16 – which proclaims to us God’s love in Christ, a love which gives us everlasting life through faith.
Notice also the note of judgment in this passage – those who do not believe are condemned. This condemnation is a result of unbelief. During this Lenten season examine your life, how is your faith? Do you need strengthening in faith? Pray to the Lord, He will renew and restore you in Christ.