"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." - John 3:14-15
An outrageous claim made by an outrageous radical rabbi - no wonder the entrenched religious authority structures of the time constantly tried to kill Him! The brass serpent Moses lifted up in the wilderness (Numbers 21) was the image of the instrument of punishment that the Israelites had received for their sin - which was complaining against God for the way in which He was leading them, and complaining about the provision which He was providing for their sustenance on their journey: manna (in Hebrew: "mah nah," a question: "What is this?").
Yet, because of God's mercy and grace, the very instrument of their punishment became, in the hands of Moses, the instrument of their healing. Jesus likened Himself to that brass serpent. Just like in the days of Moses, God's people were complaining against God for the way in which He was leading them and for the provision He was providing for them on their journey. Jesus plainly told people He was both "the way" (John 14:6) and "the bread of life which came down from heaven" (manna - John 6:33-35).
More outrageous claims! We never DO like the way God does things, nor do we have a natural taste for His way of providing for us - we ask, "What IS this?" Yet by His grace, for "He knows the way we are made, that we are but dust" (Psalm 103:14), Jesus allowed Himself to be made into the image of the instrument of our own woundedness - the original wound, separation from God, and all the subsequent consequences that follow that woundedness - and if we will but realize (come to a conscious realization that we are indeed wounded, and in fact, dying!) we can look upon Him, lifted up, and be healed.
Lord, I pray for myself and for all my friends and loved ones, that by Your Holy Spirit You might illuminate those parts our our hearts that have been darkened by defeat, despair, doubt, and depression. We confess that often we resent both Your way and Your provision, and complain within our hearts about the journey and what You have given us for our nourishment and sustenance on that journey. Open the eyes of my heart, of our hearts, and cause us to see the beauty, the purpose, and the ultimate destination of Your way and to taste your manna and find Your specific, personal answer when we ask of You: "what is this?"
Lord, we confess that indeed we are mere dust, yet You have by Your grace breathed Your breath of life into us, making us a living soul and spirit, giving us the incredible gift of being made in Your image. Cause us to be grateful for this breath, for every breath we breathe we are breathing by Your grace. Open our eyes to those around us, and may the scales of "religious"self righteousness and entrenched, stale, man-made teachings fall from our eyes, and may we be filled with such outrageous love for EVERYONE in our lives, "Believer" and "non-Believer" alike, because they, like we, are made in Your image, and they, like we, are recipients of Your grace. Help us to remember how, in the days of His earthly ministry, Jesus dined with "sinners," hung out with "Pharisees and publicans," and scandalized everyone (including His own disciples) by especially honoring the weakest and most disenfranchised members of society: women and children, "Samaritans," the handicapped, the down and out "losers."
Make us Lord, as individuals and as a Body of Believers scattered throughout the world, as outrageous as Jesus, as willing to take risks, and give us joy on this way and gratitude for Your guidance and provision.