God's love is real - and for ever!
The readings for this fourth week in the Season of Lent deal with real love and real pain. Cancer is real. War is real. Abuse is real. And still, God’s love is real. No matter how devastating and broken the condition of life, God works for healing, wholeness, and redemption.
Numbers 21:4–9, tells about a hardship in Hebrew history. After escaping slavery in Egypt, the Hebrew people wander in the wilderness; they become impatient and grumble. The storyteller tells how God sent fiery serpents among them and how the same God who has just violently condemned idolatry now directs the building of an idol. Perhaps the visible symbol of such idolatry helps recall the suffering people to themselves and healing results.
In John 3:14–21 Jesus draws on the image of the bronze serpent that brought healing to those who had been bitten in the wilderness. For the writer of the gospel of John, this is a visible sign of Jesus’ willingness to stop at nothing – not even crucifixion – to proclaim God’s healing love. God’s desire is not the condemnation of those who do wrong, but their gracious rescue.
The complicated relationship between sin and suffering can create an additional burden of blame and shame, but God’s steadfast love endures forever. God’s work is healing our fractured hearts, minds, bodies, communities, and nations. How do you see these texts bringing hope and wholeness to a hurting world?
Adapted from Seasons of the Spirit SeasonsFusion Lent - Easter 2018