Daily Readings, Day Eight
October 6, 2017
John 3:11-21 (NRSV)
11 “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
16 “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.
17 “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. 18 Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. 20 For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. 21 But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”
There’s that Jacob’s ladder image again that has been so important so far to John, with Jesus ascending into and descending from heaven.
And there’s our obscure but strangely powerful snake reference of the day. It’s from the old book of Numbers, the non-counting-lists section. The tribes have an infestation of poisonous snakes, Moses begs God for help, and God tells Moses to take the source of their problems, hold it up high, and those who look will live.
So in John’s garden of metaphors, Jesus is also the snake. This human who is God’s word and is light and life and moves in and our of heaven is also death. He becomes the executed by the state. He is the mob-mentality scapegoat mechanism present in the darkness of all societies. He is the Lamb to end all lamb-slaughter sacrifice, the agent of our healing.
Jesus will be lifted up on a cross so that we can look at him – embodying the source of all our grief and pain – and draw life.
This is God’s utterly strange and beautiful love-gift to the world.
It is an old spiritual practice to picture in our mind’s eye, or in a piece of artwork, Jesus at his time of death. Picture Jesus there yourself and ask how it is Jesus could be an agent of your healing or the healing of others today. Sit with what comes to mind for a moment.