Are you weird? I can tell you how to prove whether you are or not.
Just answer one question…
Do you love snakes? If the answer is yes then I regret to inform you that you are indeed…weird! It’s okay though because you’re among friends! I don’t mind them either.
Every time I think about snakes I remember one instance in particular. It was the first day of an absolutely full Junior week of camp. All the booger-eating munchkins were filing out of the buses ready to wreak havoc on anything or anyone. The staff’s spirit was up, and we were pumped about adventures ahead. The first bell rang and everyone poured into the fellowship to enjoy a hot lunch. Everything was running smoothly, just as it should
.. and then…it happened.
One of the counselors, God bless her heart, let out a blood curdling scream as she scurried her way on top of the table. About ten junior age girls followed quickly behind. Some grabbing on to each other for dear life and others bursting into full sprint out of the dining hall. It was like watching popcorn bubbling out of an old fashion popcorn cart. Someone shouted,
Me and another staff guy quickly channeled our inner Bear Grylls and darted to the rescue. With brooms in hand and determination on our faces, we did everything possible to shuffle out the five foot long black snake. Before we could get it out the door it slithered it’s way up into a bread rack, which contained about a dozen crates one on top of the other. We looked at each other and quickly rolled the bread rack outside. Then came the fun part.
We began removing the bread racks one by one, just waiting for the our reptile friend to come to sink his fangs into us! All the sudden I saw a tail. And yes, you know exactly what I did with it. I grabbed him and pulled him as hard as I could. I must admit that even I was somewhat impressed. Eventually we got all five feet of the snake out of the rack and drug him back safely to the woods. Believe it or not, he didn’t even try to bite us--collective sigh all around.
As I meditated on that story this week, I thought about Jesus’ words to Nicodemus,
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:14-15.
This of course was reference to when the children of Israel were bitten by serpents because they murmured, and “spake against God and against Moses.” (Numbers 21). Many Israelites lost their lives on the account of discontentment and turning against the God who had delivered them. But God in His mercy, instructed Moses to make a bronze serpent, place it on a poll, and put it in the middle of the camp. All who looked at the serpent lifted up, would be healed from their venomous wounds. I think it’s interesting God used a pagan symbol (serpent) as a tool of restoration and salvation. No doubt people questioned the validity of Moses’ task but by his obedience, many were delivered.
This was the story that Jesus recounted to Nicodemus as a picture of what He would do on the cross for all mankind. As the serpent was lifted up, “so shall the Son of man be lifted up.”
The fact of the matter is that all men are bitten by sin. We all have venomous sin nature that is incurable outside of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Wherefore, as by one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” (Romans 5:12)
Romans 3:23 tells us, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Sin, like the Holy Spirit is not a popular topic today. Many skirt around the issue an regurgitate vague statements about there being some bad in the world, but all in all man is inherently good. That couldn’t be further from the truth! Men inherently are sinners. I am sinner. You are a sinner. And a part form Jesus, we can do nothing save ourselves from sin’s curse.
Let’s look at two fundamental truths in regards to sin (And then on to the Good News…literally)
The Penalty for Sin
In the eyes of God, sin cannot go unpunished. Our God is a god of love but He is also a very just god--He is pure and holy. The Bible teaches us that the penalty for sin is eternal damnation in the Lake of Fire.
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
The word death literally means “separation.” The worst part about Hell is not the fire or darkness, but it is the separation from God for all of eternity. This is why Jesus preached on Hell twice as much as He did about Heaven.
BUT here is the good news…
Jesus took the sins of the world on Himself and made way to the Father, “…that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) We do not have to experience Hell, because Jesus in essence took “our Hell” for us!
We must not fail to tell others about the truth of the penalty for our sin, but we should never forget to include the Hope that is in Christ. It is free! Yes, free indeed!
In our next study, we will talk about the second fundamental truth about sin, the power of sin. The beautiful part of a relationship with Jesus, that not only does he save us from the penalty of sin, He has “made a way of escape” from the power sin in our lives.