In speaking of his being “lifted up,” Jesus recalls an incident during the wanderings of the Israelites in the desert. With their patience worn out by the journey, the people murmured (rebelled) against God and against Moses. In punishment, they were bitten by saraph serpents so that many of them died. When the people repented, God ordered Moses to make a bronze serpent and mount it on a pole. When those who had been bitten looked at the bronze serpent, they recovered (Nm 21:4-9).
Jesus says that his own “lifting up” enables people to have eternal life. This will correspond to his crucifixion when he will be literally lifted up from the ground, hanging between heaven and earth. But by God’s design, his suffering and death will redound to his resurrection and glorification, when he will be “lifted up” and given a name above every name (Phil 2:9).
Jesus’ life is like a pendulum, following a descent-ascent schema. He came down from God in his incarnation and will return to God in his resurrection-ascension. As the firstborn of all creation and the firstborn from the dead, he will not return alone. He will draw all things to himself and bring them back to God.
GOSPEL • JOHN 3:7b-15
Jesus said to Nicodemus: “‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus answered and said to him, “How can this happen?” Jesus answered and said to him, “You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand this? Amen, amen, I say to you, we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen, but you people do not accept our testimony. If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”
SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2021,” ST. PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 632-895-9701; Fax 632-895-7328; E-mail: [email protected]; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.