Week 1 of Lent | Todd Lake
“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,
that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” (John 3:14-15)
Jesus assumes that we are in a very bad way without Him. We are like people who have been bitten by poisonous snakes and now have death coursing through our veins. We snakebit ones need someone to risk it all to get us the antivenom that alone can save our lives.
Jesus reveals our true condition to us. He says that “whoever does not believe stands condemned already.” There is no more reason to be angry at Jesus for saying this than to be angry at the doctor who gives us a dreaded diagnosis. But when we get bad news, we tend to react first with anger, since it is easier in the short run to live in blissful ignorance of our true condition.
Our modern world denies that we as individuals and as a society are trapped in a death spiral, which in olden times was called “sin.”
C.S. Lewis writes, “The greatest barrier I have met is the almost total absence from the minds of my audience of any sense of sin. … The early Christian preachers could assume in their hearers, whether Jews . . . or Pagans, a sense of guilt . … Thus, the Christian message was in those days unmistakably the Evangelium, the Good News. It promised healing to those who knew they were sick. We have to convince our hearers of the unwelcome diagnosis before we can expect them to welcome the news of the remedy.”
During this Lenten season, we would do well to rekindle in ourselves an awareness of our sinfulness. Jesus cannot heal what we do not allow Him to heal. His first question to those who sought Him out was, “What do you want me to do?” If our deepest response is something like, “Oh, nothing, I’m fine the way I am,” then He can do nothing to help us.
But if we own up to the lust, sloth, greed, anger, jealousy, pride and gluttony that drives us from within and allures us from without, Jesus’ invitation still stands. He invites us to believe in Him so that we “may have eternal life in Him.” Jesus was lifted up on the cross that we might be saved, if that is what we want.
Vice President, Spiritual Development