Dear Bethesda,

I spent the last week on vacation. During that time off, I got to spend a few days in Sunriver. The weather was glorious! Clear blue skies and lots of sunshine. Days like that are good for the soul and good for refreshment and rejuvenation. Lots of long walks were taken and it was warm enough in the afternoon that I soaked in some sun in my t-shirt. I needed the natural vitamin D boost as well.

In our scripture for Sunday we hear Jesus say, 14 “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” When the servant was lifted, when Jesus was lifted, the people had to look up to see what was going on. The people had to look at the serpent on the pole to be saved. We look up to the cross to see the one through whom we are saved.

When we are embarrassed, when we are ashamed, when we are guilty, what do we tend to do? We look down, we avoid eye contact, we don’t want to see the one that we have hurt. Now that we have cellphones, we can also spend our time with our heads down staring at a screen instead of looking up and seeing all that is around us. There are also times in life where you choose to “keep your head down,” in hopes that the boss or a teacher may not notice you.

In the presence of the cross, we are encouraged to “look up.” We are asked to recognize what God has done for us through that cross. We are to see that in the cross we have been set free from the guilt of sin and forgiven so that we can live anew as God’s people. This is why I think John 3:17 is so important, 17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” If the cross were a sign of condemnation then we should put our heads down in shame. But the Son of Man has been lifted up so that the world is saved through him.

We all need to lift up our heads; see the sun when it shines, see the Son when he shines out forgiveness. In the presence of the one who is lifted up, we can let go of the embarrassment, shame, and guilt that we may feel. And, experience what God has done for the world that God loves so much. We can look up and see the cross of Christ Jesus the one through whom we are saved and through whom we will be given eternal life.