5th Week of Lent
Numbers 21:4-9; Psalm 102:2-3, 16-21;John 8:21-30
When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am. (John 8:28)
When Moses lifted up the bronze serpent, the people who gazed on it saw two things. First, they got a graphic look at their own sins. Grumbling, blaming, complaining are as deadly as serpents. They slither their way between people and interfere with God’s ability to take care of them. Second, they got a look at God’s mercy; whoever looked at the bronze serpent was instantaneously healed.
In the same way, when we gaze at Jesus lifted up on the cross, we see both ourselves and Jesus more clearly.
We see ourselves as capable of mortally wounding people by our indifference, our selfishness, and our pride. We see that we can be just like Pilate as we wash our hands of responsibility for the needy. We are the soldiers mistreating the people we don’t respect. We are the mob, easily swayed by the fad or feeling of the moment, rejecting anyone who seems out of step. We are the would-be followers running away at the first sign of trouble. We are the faithful friends, helpless and disconsolate, immobilized by fear. We see how our own actions have caused the pain that Jesus is experiencing as he hangs on the cross, suffering for our sins.
But that’s not all. Gazing at the cross, we also see a God who became man because he loves us. We see Jesus looking at each of us with great tenderness and compassion. We hear him promising forgiveness and eternal life to anyone who turns to him in repentance. We see a Messiah who loves us unconditionally, who loves us enough to endure and conquer not only our sins but death itself.
Spend some time in front of a crucifix today, either at home or in church. Don’t worry about whether you have anything to say to Jesus. Just kneel there, and gaze at him in wonder and gratitude. Have the courage to look at whatever he reveals about yourself, but don’t stop there. Keep on gazing until you feel his love overpowering your sin and bringing you into the presence of Jesus, your brother and Redeemer.
“My crucified Lord, thank you for loving me enough to be lifted up on the cross.”~WAU