Simply look

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Cross at sunset

By Tom Wiles | For The Times-Post

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to a pole. All who are bitten will live if they simply look at it!” — Numbers 21:4-9

I’ve always been confused about the medical symbol — a snake wrapped around the top of a pole.

First, I don’t like snakes. Never have, never will. If I come across one, I immediately recoil. Snakes, spiders and sharks; no thanks! One day, I did a little research. Okay fine, internet black hole. It turns out that it is the rod of Asclepius, the Greek god of healing. I think a much better source for this symbol is this story in the Bible.

The people were at it again. They never stopped speaking out against God and Moses. Again and again, God brought swift discipline into their lives. This time, it was poisonous snakes. They were all over the place and the people were getting bit and dying. It’s amazing how quickly deadly snake venom brings a group to repentance! Moses prayed for them and God told him to put a bronze snake on a pole. “Look at it and be healed!”, he told them. This command was one of the few they immediately believed and obeyed.

Jesus was visited by a man one night who was a genuine seeker. Being part of the religious leadership of his day, he was very aware of Moses and all the stories from that time in Israel’s history. He knew the snake story. Jesus took him there to help him understand just exactly who he was. He told him just like Moses put a serpent on a pole, he also would be hung on a pole. All who simply look to him in faith will be rescued from much more than snake venom, they will be rescued from sin venom — a Godless eternity.

Favored

Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!” — Luke 1:26-38

“Um … are you sure about this?”, I asked.

I knew I was going to work on the maintenance crew for the summer, but I wasn’t prepared for this news.

“Yep”, he said, “You’re going to lead this team and make sure all of these critical support areas of the camp are right on track.”

I had never led anything.

This plan didn’t seem like a winning situation. I didn’t know this; I didn’t know that … blah, blah, blah.

None of that mattered I was told. I was chosen and that was the end of it.

I have to believe similar thoughts went through Mary’s mind when old Gabriel showed up with some news for her straight from God.

Mary was a young woman.

She was a “lowly servant girl.”

She was not married, but was about to be pregnant.

None of that played out well in her world.

Yet, she was chosen to become the mother of the “Son of the Most High.”

Qualifications?

Experience relevant to this task?

None.

She was simply God’s choice, favored, and that was the end of it.

Too many times in our lives, we approach a relationship with God completely wrong-headed.

“I’ll be such a good person. God will think I’m a big deal and he’ll really love me.”

Other times, “I can’t believe I messed up so bad. God could never want me or use me for anything special.”

Our mistake is that we are putting ourselves at the center of the story.

It’s not about us.

It’s about him.

Jesus came to deal with all our sin.

Jesus makes us right with God.

Jesus calls us and enables us to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.

It is his favor that matters not our perceived worthiness or unworthiness.

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