Snakes. (OK, I just lost half of you to the “gross” factor). Statistics say that most people don’t like them. Most people recoil at the site of them. Most people’s stomach turn when they see their slithery bodies quietly glide in an “S” curve across the landscape. It was the form that the Devil was allowed when meeting with Adam and Eve and it was the instrument of deadly punishment for the God-followers who complained against God in the desert. Remember that story? (Numbers 21).
God rescued His people from Egyptian slavery and set them loose in the desert. After many years, they began to loose their trust that God knew what He was doing and grumbled against Him. As a consequence, God sent snakes (YUCK) to bite the people and many died. As a result, the people turned back to God and He instructed Moses to put the snakes on a pole so that anyone who was bitten, could look at the banner and be saved.
Is it interesting that the very thing that repulsed the people was the very thing that God lifted up as a means for healing. That from which people turned away was now the image to which they would be brought close. The Bible connects Jesus with this story as being lifted up as well (John 3). Today, just as in the Old Testament story, Jesus repulses many but saves some.
So love the snake. Not for it’s eeriness, not for it’s creeping or slithering or dangerous strike. Love the snake for it’s reminder that Jesus saves you from the bite of sin.
(By the way: This image is still the international symbol of the medical profession)