Lift High the Cross (and the Snake)

A Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Lent

Texts: Numbers 21:4-9; St. John 3:14-21

Grace to you and peace from God our Heavenly Father and Christ Jesus our Lord, the one who brings life everlasting. Amen.

John 3 is undoubtedly one of the most famous passages in the entire Bible – up there with Psalm 23 or I Corinthians 13 (the love chapter read at so many weddings). Jesus’ exchange with Nicodemus gives us both the phrase “born from above,” or more commonly translated as “born-again” (we read that section around this time last year, and during midweek prayer a few weeks ago) and the verse so famous that it has become its own cliché: John 3:16. Our familiarity with that verse from today’s Gospel might only be matched by how strange John 3:14 is: a serpent lifted up in the wilderness? What?

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