Journey to Daily Prayer – Day 35
Tuesday in Fifth Week of Lent
“Look and Live.”
What does Jesus mean in today’s John reading when he says, “When you have lifted up the Son of man,” (Jn 8:28)? It’s very similar to what Jesus says earlier in John’s Gospel: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up,” (Jn 3:14), where Jesus is referring to today’s Numbers reading. After God redeems Israel out of Egypt, the Israelites constantly complain. But notice the end of today’s complaint: “we loathe this worthless food” (Num 21:5). What was that “worthless food?” Manna! They despised God’s miraculous bread from heaven! Imagine if someone called Eucharist “worthless food!” And so, God sent fiery serpents to strike them. But when they repented, God commanded Moses to make a bronze serpent on a pole and lift it up, so that they could look and live. Thus, when Jesus speaks of being lifted up, this is what he means: the Israelites were rejecting the true bread from heaven, Jesus (Jn 6:48-58), and were struck by the fiery serpent of sin and death; yet, if they looked at Jesus lifted on the cross, dying for their sin, they would live. It’s a message we need to hear too. Because we also think of Jesus as “worthless food” in our own ways. Perhaps he isn’t as satisfying as wealth, sex, or our careers. Or perhaps he’s too risky to follow with all our hearts, souls, and strength. God knows what he might command us to do! Yet, to truly live is to see everything else as “worthless food,” and to see the Bread of Heaven lifted up on the Cross for our sins, and find life in him—to look and live.
Almighty God, who through the incarnate Word dost make us to be born anew of an imperishable and eternal seed: Look with compassion, we beseech thee, upon those who are being prepared for Holy Baptism, and grant that they may be built as living stones into a spiritual temple acceptable unto thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.