FEAST OF THE EXALTATION OF THE HOLY CROSS

September 14, 2018

Numbers 21:4B-9

 

From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; but the people became impatient on the way. The people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.” Then the Lord sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.” So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.

 

 

Psalm 78: 1BC-2, 34-38

 

I will open my mouth in a parable;

    I will utter dark sayings from of old,

 things that we have heard and known,

    that our ancestors have told us.

When he killed them, they sought for him;

    they repented and sought God earnestly.

 They remembered that God was their rock,

    the Most High God their redeemer.

 But they flattered him with their mouths;

    they lied to him with their tongues.

 Their heart was not steadfast toward him;

    they were not true to his covenant.

 Yet he, being compassionate,

    forgave their iniquity,

    and did not destroy them;

often he restrained his anger,

    and did not stir up all his wrath.

 

 

Philippians 2:5-11

 

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God,

    did not regard equality with God

    as something to be exploited,

but emptied himself,

    taking the form of a slave,

    being born in human likeness.

And being found in human form,

  he humbled himself

    and became obedient to the point of death—

    even death on a cross.

 

Therefore God also highly exalted him

    and gave him the name

    that is above every name,

so that at the name of Jesus

    every knee should bend,

    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue should confess

    that Jesus Christ is Lord,

    to the glory of God the Father.

 

 

JN 3:13-17

 

No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

 

“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

 

 

Meditation

 

Have you ever had a mysterious physical symptom and decided to google it? It tends to be that the most horrifying illnesses imaginable are at the top of every search engine. No matter how small your infirmity might be, once you start researching it, it's easy to become convinced that it is actually a symptom of a serious ailment. 

 

While often times our own sensitivity and intrigue can create unnecessary fear, unfortunately, we normally assume the opposite when it comes to analyzing our sin. While a sinus infection might convince us we're in grave danger, we don't often stop and consider how our sinfulness, unchecked, leads to death. Instead we make exceptions, say things aren't as bad as they are, or outright refuse to say that a sinful act is actually sin. 

 

The Isrealites in the desert knew that the serpents were among them because they had sinned and turned away from God. They caught on that their actions separated them from the love of God, and that the ultimate fall out of that was death. Therefore, to turn and look at the bronze serpent was to face that truth. In facing and acknowledging their sin, they received healing. All that the Lord required, was that they realized and named their actions. God took care of the rest and brought healing and redemption. In any conflict, when one has done something wrong, it needs to be adequately addressed so that it is not repeated. While God could have healed them without their acknowledgement of sin, their facing the consequences brought true reconciliation.

 

Jesus's death on the cross literally showed us the result of sin. The revelation of death makes it so that we can have full knowledge of the fall out of sin, and desire reconciliation with God. Jesus lets us understand that sin is nothing to glamorize. But rather that through His power of His love, Christ overcame death and offered us life instead.

 

It is not fun to consider one’s own sin. In the way that we don’t like thinking about how a minor discomfort could be symptomatic of larger problems, it isn’t pleasant to name your sin with the understanding that it could escalate. But Jesus’s act of love in showing us the result of death gives us life the same way that the Israelites received life in the desert. By naming our shortcomings and turning back to God, we are given full forgiveness and new life. Today, don’t be afraid to repent of your sins. Remember that Jesus loves you and desires for you to live in everlasting relationship with Him.

 

Prayer: Dear Lord, please help me to know my sins. I don’t like considering my failures, but I know that your love offers freedom. Jesus today I want to fully acknowledge that I am a sinner who needs your grace. I receive that grace once again and long to come closer to you. Help me Lord to seek you more each day, and to refrain from sin. Amen.

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