For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18 NRSV)
There was once a man named Nicodemas. Nicodemas was a high-ranking member of the Pharisees but he was confused and frightened. The more he struggled to understand, the more confused and frightened he became. Then he heard about Jesus, and he thought that perhaps Jesus could help him. He caught up with Jesus on the outskirts of town.
At one point in their conversation Jesus tells Nicodemas, "No one can see the kingdom of God without being born again." Jesus was speaking, of course, of spiritual rebirth, but Nicodemus was thinking of physical birth. "How can anyone be born after having grown old?" Nicodemas asks. "Can he go back into his mother's womb?" Nicodemas was confused. Jesus simply wasn't making any sense.
Then Jesus reminded Nicodemus of the time Moses and the children of Israel were in the desert. Certainly Nicodemus, a high-ranking Pharisee would understand an illustration from the pages of the Torah. Out in the desert some of the people of Israel were being bitten by snakes. In fact some of the Israelites had died as a result of snake bites. It was such a problem that Moses sought out God for a solution.
God instructed Moses, "Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live." Moses did as God had instructed him. He placed a snake high on a pole. When the people looked at the snake they were healed. They no longer even feared snakes.
Nicodemus remembered the story Jesus was referring to. In the same way, Jesus tells Nicodemus, people will one day look to the cross and live. "Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness," says Jesus, "so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life."
Dear God, as I look to the cross of Jesus Christ, help me to truly see the fullness of life. In Jesus Name, Amen.
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