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Communion Meditations (2022)


Snakes Alive

Originally scheduled for May 15

The LORD sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. So the people came to Moses and said, "We have sinned, because we have spoken against the LORD and you; intercede with the LORD, that He may remove the serpents from us." And Moses interceded for the people. Then the LORD said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live." And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.

(Numbers 21:6-9 NASB)


This passage seems a bit strange to modern Christians. It’s almost as if Moses is engaging in sort of minor idol worship. In fact, what he is doing is establishing a forerunner for Christ — what is technically called a “type.”

A type typically has three functions to perform: first, it unites the Bible, particularly the Old Testament to the New Testament as we see a picture of Christ in this event. Second, the type identifies Jesus Christ for who he really is. And finally, the type is a form of God’s progressive revelation of the Old Testament. He did not tell the ancient Jews everything they were going to need to know at once, but revealed these things gradually. This is one of those revelations.

Of course, something like this needs some confirmation in the New Testament. We find this confirmation in the night in which Nicodemus came to Jesus. On that night, here is what Jesus told Nicodemus:

"As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.

(John 3:14-15 NASB)

So, Jesus confirms this here in John’s Gospel. We see here are three primary characteristics of Jesus the Christ:

First, we see Jesus as the giver of eternal life. There is no other way to the Father but through the Son. Moses made only one snake; there is only one Christ.

Second, Christ is portrayed as the healer of mankind. This is not so much the miraculous kind of healing of individual diseases but the restoration of the relationship we had with God before sin entered the world.

Third, it tells us that Christ must be lifted up. We must put them on display and in particular on display on the cross so that the world will know that grace has come at the price of his sacrifice.



It also reminds us to whom we should be looking. Christ is not just a decorative accent to your home; he should be the center of your life. His guidance should be your guidance; look to him for wisdom, truth and direction.

Finally, Christ is the source of the resurrection to come. As the ancient Hebrews looked to that snake on a pole to be healed and rescued from death, so we look to Christ in communion as the one who will at his return liberate us from the grave.


Ponder these things. Ponder his sacrifice, his truth and the great day of the coming resurrection. Examine the course of your life in this context, then partake in a worthy manner.

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