Today’s Scriptures speak to us words of healing. But more than that, they speak of healing us from disease that we have inflicted on ourselves. The children of Israel needed this kind of healing. They had been bitterly complaining about their treatment in the desert, after God had gone to great lengths to rescue them from their captivity as slaves in Egypt. Think about that, would they really rather have remained in bitter slavery than have to put up with some inconveniences as they approached the freedom they had long been promised? But still, they complained, and so they are bitten by seraph serpents and many of them died. But they are healed when they look upon the brass serpent lifted up on the pole, made by Moses.
This prefigures the way God intended to heal the human race through the lifting up of his Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross. We too had been subjected to bitter slavery, and in some sense we continue to be subject to it. The slavery here is slavery to sin, to whatever it is that drags us down, keeps us from God, and makes us miserable, ungrateful, wretched souls. That’s what sin does to us. But we need not die in that miserable state. There is a remedy. We don’t have to look to a mere bronze serpent, because that’s a poor substitute for the remedy God has in mind. Instead, we can look up to Christ, lifted up on the cross for our salvation, and better still, lifted up from his death by the glory of the resurrection.
There’s a lot of lifting up going on. God intends to raise us all up, as he did for Christ. That’s why he created us. He knows that we are still subject to slavery – not in Egypt, of course, but to sin, which is even worse. But thanks be to God, he has provided the remedy by giving his only Son for our salvation.