It is time to say ‘By your holy cross you have redeemed the world’ again. Some of us repeat this particular sentence a few times every year during Lent. But what does this sentence mean to us?
Over three thousand years ago a large group of slaves who had escaped from Egypt were wandering in the Sinai Peninsula. Suffering from hunger and thirst, they cried out against God and their leader, Moses:
‘“Why have you brought us from Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water? We are disgusted with this wretched food!” In punishment the Lord sent among the people seraph serpents, which bit the people so that many of them died. Then the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned in complaining against the Lord and you. Pray to the Lord to take the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people, and the Lord said to Moses, “Make a seraph and mount it on a pole, and if anyone who has been bitten looks at it, he will recover.” Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole, and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent looked at the bronze serpent, he recovered.’ ( Numbers 21: 5 – 9 )
Many centuries later Jesus predicted, “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that all who believe may have eternal life in him.” ( John 3: 14 – 15 ) Jesus was conveying a message to all of us – If you wish to be healed, and saved, and to have everlasting life, you must look up at me, believe me, accept me, and follow my teachings.
As Jesus was the first and the only man who ever found His way to get out of His own tomb by absolute obedience to His Father and by dying on a cross, so we must also be like Him if we want to be healed and saved by obeying the Father and taking up our own cross every day. In other words, if we want to be saved and have everlasting life, we must accept Him on His terms and on His conditions, not on our conditions.
Just like the escaped slaves in the Sinai Peninsula who looked at the bronze serpent to be healed, we need to look up at the Lord who was hanging on the cross if we want to be healed and saved. There are millions around the world, unfortunately, who do not and will never look up at the Lord on the cross.
As Jesus once wept over Jerusalem ( Matthew 23: 37 – 39 ), today Jesus is also weeping over every abortion clinic, every house of prostitution, every ‘wedding’ of both men or both women, every battle field where soldiers and civilians are killed, every home where love does not exist.
There are many evil forces today. They are found on the internet, in the pornography industry, in movies, in newspapers, in magazines, and in the gossip around us which suggest to us that we can look at elsewhere to be saved, that we can find salvation on our own terms and on our own conditions. They are snares and empty promises. The legalization of euthanasia, the killing of those thought to be a burden to themselves and others, is one example. The legalization of same sex marriage and abortion are two other examples.
Many worldly-minded, materialistic, and irreligious people will do anything to make us believe we can look everywhere, except at the Lord who was lifted up on the cross, for healing and salvation.
Do not look at this world for salvation. There is no salvation from anything this world offers. Do not look elsewhere, we will not find salvation anywhere except from Jesus. Always look up at the cross, on the Lord who died to forgive our sins. That is where we will be healed and saved.
Always look at the crucifix and tell Jesus, “We adore you, O Jesus, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world!”