Scripture:Lectionary for 3/27 #253. Numbers 21:4-9. Psalm 102:2-3,16-18,19-21. John 8:21-30
Chapter three of John, our Gospel during this time of Lent, refers to the first reading and the event of the serpent or seraph lifted up in the desert to help those who had been stung by it to be healed—a concession and a sign of reconciliation for those who had doubted the God of Moses and Israel. This sign will be the symbol that Jesus uses for speaking of his death on the cross which will be seen as a “lifting up” to return to his Father. There will be three distinct references to the lifting up and we are listening to Jesus give us the second of these sayings.
We know that the Gospel of John is both a book of signs (miracles in the other Gospels) and a book of glory or love in its second part, chapters 13-21. The principal theme of faith is especially strong in the book of signs (chapters 1-12). The signs are given to lead one to believe in the very person of Jesus and what he reveals to us and to all who are believers in him. We are to look up to him in his being lifted up (his being raised up on the cross). Faith always is this trust and belief in the person of Jesus as the word of life, truth, and love.
We are probably a bit like the people in the desert who are becoming weary of the Lenten practices and the journeying with Jesus on the road to Calvary. The text from Numbers tells us the people of Israel were impatient and worn out in their waiting for the Lord to lead them into the promised land and freedom. We are often worn out and lose our patience as we wait for the springtime, sun, relaxation, and Easter. There is never an Easter without Good Friday and that is part of the lesson we hear from John today and from the Book of Numbers. No cross, no glory!
Jesus tells us he must be lifted up if all are to be drawn to himself and to be reconciled with the Father. The prince of this world, the Devil, will be thrown out by Jesus through the events that we celebrate liturgically next week. The “hour” of Jesus is approaching and we must enter into it with faith and love. May we practice holy patience this week and be devoted to prayer and unselfish love for others. Amen.