By Alex Florez
Let me get this straight…All the ancient Israelites had to do was look at a bronze snake on a pole and their wounds would be healed? Seriously? That’s it? My impulse here is to think they were getting off way too easily. After all the grumbling and complaining they did in the desert, I would think God would demand a little more from them. Instead, they’re rescued from danger simply by looking at a lifeless object. It seems to me they got a lot more out of this transaction than they put in.
Easy for me to say.
After all, I’ve never experienced the type of deprivation or anxiety that must have come from their journey through the wilderness. As I consider my present circumstances, I feel even more unfit to define what God’s people deserved or didn’t deserve. I’m currently surrounded by fourteen nieces and nephews and eleven adults. To be fair, the scene is utter chaos, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s laughter and games, there are older cousins playing with younger cousins, we all have full bellies, a roof over our heads, and it should be noted that we are not being attacked by aggressive, venomous snakes. Perhaps it was fitting for God to make the path to healing relatively straightforward.
Reflecting on Numbers 21 as a follower of Jesus, it occurs to me that I am not necessarily getting what I deserve either. I have lived a life of inconsistent obedience, lukewarm faithfulness, and slipshod commitment to the day-to-day calling God has put on my life. And yet He has created a direct and very clear path for me to receive His full life, and best of all, an intimate and loving relationship with Jesus.
While the Israelites had to look at a lifeless bronze statue, my requirement is simply to gaze upon the risen Jesus. “The Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life” (John 3:14–15). He may not actually be in the room for me to behold, but because I see Jesus so vividly characterized throughout the entirety of Scripture, I can see the beckoning arms of my gentle Savior very clearly. His invitation for me to receive forgiveness and healing in His presence is not because I have followed the rules adequately or jumped through a series of difficult religious hoops, and it is not because I have impressed Him with my theological knowledge. He calls me to Himself because He is delighted to do so, because it was His intent from the beginning of time.
All I have to do is train my eyes on Jesus each day when I wake up—no matter what kind of day I had yesterday, no matter what kind of day lies unseen for me in the hours to come. The invitation is clear: fix my eyes on Jesus, and live.