Mar 27, 2023
(Nm.21:4-9; Ps.102:2-3,16-21; Jn.8:21-30)
“From heaven He beheld the earth,
to hear the groaning of the prisoners,
to release those doomed to die.”
As the Lord has said to the Pharisees: “You belong to what is below; I belong to what is above.” And truly, how could we come to where He is unless He reached down to lead us there?
The Israelites show just how much they are of this world below when they reject the food of the heavens in utter bitterness: “We are disgusted with this wretched food!” they say of the manna the Lord has provided. And punishment comes to them in the form of a serpent for their cursing the hand of God.
And the Pharisees are the same. They have the living bread from heaven standing before them, teaching them, yet they cannot grasp what He says and with mockery ask, “Who are you, then?” when He tells them, “I AM.” And so they too “will surely die in their sins” for their rejection of the great I AM.
But yet there is hope. For the Israelites, Moses “make[s] a serpent and mount[s] it on a pole,” and those who gaze upon it are healed from the serpent’s deadly bite. And, of course, Jesus Himself will mount the wood of the cross and be fixed there – and the Pharisees and we who gaze upon our sins (which, as with the serpents, have caused this punishment), we who see what we have done and repent thereof, shall be healed, restored, forgiven.
“When you lift up the Son of Man, you will come to realize that I AM,” says the Lord. And now we look up at Him who has died for us and pray He will take us where He has gone, that our cry will come to Him, that He will regard “the prayer of the destitute” and lift us up to heaven with Him as we share in His cross.
O LORD, you have answered our prayers;
let us be released from death
by looking upon your crucified Son.
YHWH, we are doomed to die; apart from you there is no life, and we have separated ourselves from you by our sin, by our complaining against your goodness toward us. How can one come to your presence on high if he desires but the world below, where is but dust and death? May we hear the call of your Son, who by His Cross would lead us to your kingdom.
Jesus will die. On the Cross He will be lifted up, crucified by sinful hearts. But His death means only life for us, for He is Life itself, O LORD, He is one with you; and that life is more powerful than the imposter death, which fades to nothing before His glory.
Your Son cannot but be raised on high, dear LORD, for He is one with you and dwells ever in surpassing light, to which He would draw all souls. May we indeed recognize He is the great I AM and come to life with Him, separated far from our sin and the poison it brings. Hear our prayer and save us.