Look and Be Healed

Look and Be Healed

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent. Each weekday morning, we’re going to spend a few minutes in a passage in John. Here’s the goal: read it, pray it, share it. Every post will have a passage of Scripture, a short prayer, and a question to meditate on and talk about. In a few minutes every day, we can prepare our hearts for all that God has planned in this season of Lent. 

Read: John 12:20-36
Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. [21] So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” [22] Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. [23] And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. [24] Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. [25] Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. [26] If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

[27] “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. [28] Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” [29] The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” [30] Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. [31] Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. [32] And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” [33] He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. [34] So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” [35] So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. [36] While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” (ESV)

In this chapter, the whole tenor of the Gospel of John changes. Jesus sets his face toward Jerusalem. He begins to focus on his death. He obeys to the very end. Why did he do it? Here, he makes it very clear; “When I am lifted up I will draw all people to myself.” He said something similar earlier in the gospel. In chapter 3, Jesus told Nicodemus that he would be lifted up like the snake in the wilderness.

Here’s what Jesus was referring to. In Numbers 21, the Israelites have just come out of Egypt, but they’re being attacked by fiery serpents! The people confess to Moses and cry out to God to save them. Then God tells Moses to make a bronze serpent, put it on a pole in the wilderness, and anyone who looks at it will be healed. Many hospitals and medical facilities still use this emblem of the snake on the pole as a sign of healing. In this story Jesus is using it as an example of his own death on the cross. If you’re sick with sin, look to him and be healed! No matter what you’ve done, where you’ve been, or how long you’ve been there, look to the Son lifted up on the cross. Anyone who looks to him will be saved, healed, and made new.

Jesus is playing on words, here. He will be physically lifted up on a cross just as he is spiritually lifted up as the Savior of the world. He will be lifted up in the sight of humanity just as he will rise and be lifted up to the right hand of God. He will be crucified on a sign of death, and that very cross will always be remembered as a sign of life.

Father, you sent your son to be like the snake in the wilderness. We look to him and we are healed. Keep my eyes fixed on the cross during this season of Lent. Help me to see my own sin with new clarity and Jesus’ death with new power. Amen

What is Jesus saying through the metaphor of the grain that falls to the ground? Why was the voice from heaven intended for the people standing around?

How would you explain Jesus’ metaphor of being lifted up to someone who has never read the Bible? How could you explain, “look to him and be healed” to someone who does not know Christ?
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