March 14, 2021 - 4 Lent - Deacon Deborah Drake
Moses risked his life many times but listened to the voice of God and led Israel from slavery in Egypt and was now leading them towards the Promised Land. It was a very difficult journey. "The people grew impatient on the way; they spoke out against God and against Moses, speaking cruelties such as, 'Why have you brought us up out of Egypt only to die in the desert. God heard the sinful talk of the people and sent poisonous snakes upon the people and whoever was bitten, died. The people realized they had sinned and begged Moses to pray to God to save them. God instructed Moses to make a poisonous serpent and set it on a pole for all to see. When the Israelites looked to the bronze serpent God instructed Moses to make, they were healed. Have you ever wondered where the “snake on the pole” medical logo or medicine symbol originated from? Most histories of this symbol actually attribute it to Greek mythology. The single snake on a staff being from the healing god Asclepius’ staff and the double snake with wings being from the staff of Hermes. But here we see it in the Book of Numbers.
This event tells us of a remedy for sin being provided through God's grace. All who looked to God's remedy in faith were healed. We have all sinned. Satan, often referred to as a serpent, has bitten every one of us and has, at one time or another, infected us with a poison we can call sin.
Jesus can be our remedy. Just as God provided Israel a healing remedy, God has provided us with a remedy and healing for our sins, God sent Jesus into our world to show us how to live in relationship with God and turn away from sin. Jesus taught us how to be saved from our sins.
Jesus is called son of man. The phrase “son of man” is found many times in the Old Testament scriptures. It means man on the earth with all his weakness and frailty that is inherent in human nature. Jesus takes this title and identifies Himself with humanity. In the New Testament, “the Son of man” is the designation that Christ most frequently applied to Himself while here on earth. It relates Him to the earth and establishes His absolute identification with humankind. Jesus lived our humanity, with all of our strengths and our challenges, he knew what it is like to be fully human.
Have you ever grumbled against God about your circumstances? Most of us get cranky from time to time. Maybe right now you aren’t happy about some difficult things in your life. Perhaps you’re facing financial problems. Maybe you’re experiencing a health problem. Perhaps you’re lonely and praying for a mate.
Or, you may be complaining about the mate that you have! The list could go on and on.
But whether it’s grumbling against God or giving priority to other things besides God, or failing to love others or pride or lust or greed or selfishness, we’ve all sinned more times than we can count.
We in the Episcopal Church use a public form of confession during our church services but The Episcopal Church does have a service for private confession called The Reconciliation of a Penitent and can be found on page 447 in our Book of Common Prayer. These private confessions may be heard anytime and anywhere. When we were kids in the Roman Catholic Church we felt so much better after leaving the confessional where we told our sins to the priest and he forgave us and gave us a few prayers to pray before we left the church, sort of like having a conversation with God and healing the relationship.
Sin is what takes us further away from God, and sin usually means we have not loved enough. The way Jesus led His life here on earth, He was able to show great examples of what love looks like. From feeding those who were hungry to befriending those who were cast out by society, Jesus went above and beyond to help those that needed it the most. He offered them love and hope when society seemed to turn them away. His life was a perfect example of what love in action can do for others and love brings healing.
Jesus’ death is related to the sins of humanity. A multitude of our sins killed Jesus. Jesus died by crucifixion because he could not back away from the way of Love.
His Love for the oppressed, the afflicted, love that would not let religious laws stand in the way of helping people in need. Love that made people question the ways they were living their current lives.
Following Jesus in scripture you will see a focus on healing by doing justice, to love kindness and to walk with God. Jesus was crucified because he loved people more than the human made religious or civil laws.
Scripture reads: “God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” Jesus came into the world not to hurt anyone but to heal our relationship with God by loving one another.
Jesus stood up against the authorities who kept people oppressed, who kept certain people because of ethnicity, illness, gender, religious beliefs or no religious beliefs, economic status, the authorities kept them marginalized and not allowed to freely live their full lives. Jesus saw these actions of oppression as sin against God would not turn his back on the people who were oppressed and marginalized and for this the authorities killed Jesus. Amen.