for March 15, 2015, Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year B, Readings: Numbers 21:4-9, Ps 107:1-3, 17-22; Ephesians 2:1-10, John 3:14-21
The people spoke against God and against Moses...Then the LORD sent poisonous serpents...they bit the people...many Israelites died...The people...said, "We have sinned...pray to the LORD to take away the serpents..." 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..." [Numbers 21:5a,6-7a,8]
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God - not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us..." [Ephesians 2:8-10a]
[Jesus said to Nicodemus] 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. [John 3:14-15]
Even God gets tired of grumbling apparently. After all the grand displays of glory - pillars of cloud and fire, parting of seas, manna (what, no salt and pepper?), the people had no confidence in God's deliverance. Then God sends poisonous snakes and, suddenly chastened, the people begged Moses to pray and intervene for them. God delivers - not an end to the dangers, but relief. Moses, on God's orders, made a bronze snake to hang on a pole. All the Israelites had to do is look up at the snake on the pole and they lived. God is not predictable, but God is faithful. By God's grace we are saved.
We ALL have God's grace. We don't have to work for it - no one does. Have you ever thought or said that old expression: there but for the grace of God go I ? It is well-intended. "There's that poor guy who just got run over in the same intersection I just crossed" - but what you are saying (and maybe unconsciously believe) is: " I have more grace than that guy." But wait, of course you don't really mean that at all. It's just an habitual expression used to reduce our own fear and comfort ourselves against the dangers of life as in: Whew! Dodgedthat! Our lives are filled with danger, there are all sorts and conditions of "snakes" that trap us. God doesn't promise our earthly life will be easy or safe. We just need to remember that John 3:16 isn't just for football games, it is for us in every day: 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. As the Israelites were directed to look up to the pole, Jesus tells Nicodemus that the Son of Man is also to be lifted up. All we need to do is to look to Christ in faith for our salvation, and realize the grace of God flows through us. And, maybe, stop grumbling quite so much.
Thanks to Christina BrennanLee
T'was Grace that taught...
my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear...
the hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares...
we have already come.
T'was Grace that brought us safe thus far...
and Grace will lead us home.
Thanks to People's Prayers, sidebar
Saint Alban Episcopal Mission, Antigua, Guatemala