Numbers 21:4-9 / John 8:21-30
In life, we will certainly experience sickness and illness, which causes us suffering and pain.
Suffering and pain can be critical enough to cause us distress and lead us into despair and we become more aware of the mortality of our lives.
Even though we may put our faith in God, nonetheless suffering and pain can be powerful enough to shake and erode our faith as we desperately look for a cure.
In the 1st reading, the Israelites faced a mortal predicament from being bitten by fiery serpents. But it was their own doing. They complained against God and against Moses, and fiery serpents were sent against them and the bite was mortal and fatal.
But they repented and pleaded with Moses for his intercession with the Lord. The remedy was simple yet strange - an image of a fiery serpent was put on a standard, and if anyone who was bitten were to look at it, he will live.
As much as we can try to explain this strange remedy by using the example of antivenom as the antidote for a snake bite, we must understand the connection between the Old Testament and the New Testament, in that the New Testament fulfills the prophetic message of the Old Testament.
Hence, when Jesus said that when He is lifted up, then they will know who He is, He was also recalling the episode of the account of the 1st reading, with its strange remedy of the bronze serpent on a standard.
Even for the people who witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus on the Cross, they would have never thought that the Cross would be an instrument.
But we know. So as we contemplate our Saviour on the Cross, let us give thanks to God. For by the Cross and through the Cross, we are forgiven, healed and saved.