March 15 – God Loved the World
Jesus said to Nicodemus: “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, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God.
Jesus referred Nicodemus to the story of Moses lifting the serpent in the wilderness because it would have been one with which Nicodemus was very familiar. The story goes that the people complained about being brought into the wilderness to die and cursed the manna the Lord had sent to them, so the Lord sent fiery serpents who bit the people and they died. Moses prayed that the Lord take away the serpents, and the Lord told him to make a fiery serpent from bronze placed upon a pole and the people had to look up to it, and not look down at the serpents, in order to be saved from being bitten (Numbers 21:4-9). Reading this story outside the context of Christ doesn’t make much sense, but when realize we are called to look up at Jesus upon the cross and not looking away towards the serpents trying to lure us away from Jesus, we can see God’s redeeming love and mercy, and we too will be saved. We understand even though the serpents may still be all around us,threatening our lives, the only way to save our life is by not looking away from Jesus upon the cross.
In these verses we read the popular verse, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Christ’s mission was to save us, not to condemn us. He didn’t like to point out our sins, but He did because He didn’t like us making the same mistakes. We have already been condemned through original sin. Instead, Christ came to save us from our sin. We have been judged and punished with death, but it is only through our faith in God and His son, Jesus, that we can have a new eternal life after death in the same way Jesus was resurrected. That is why whenever Jesus talks about His death, He always joins it with the resurrection.
As a people full of sin, we are shamed by light and would rather hide in the darkness. Just like a robber flees from a light into the darkness of night, we also do not want our sins bought out by the pure light of God. Instead of admitting we did wrong, we flee from Reconciliation. When we finally reconcile our sins and do good deeds, it draws us closer to the light of God. We want to be visible for all to see in the light. We need to strive to live in the light, and then we will no longer want to go back into the darkness.
Lent in Action:
Do a good deed today – donate to a charity, help someone who needs your help, etc. Bring the light of God’s love into your life and the life of someone who needs it.
Dearest Lord, Thank you for loving me so much for sending your Son to save me. You have sacrificed so much because of your love for me. I will keep my eyes looking up at Christ on the cross so that I will not be bitten by the serpents trying to take me away from you. In your holy and loving name. Amen.