THE CROSS, OUR ULTIMATE SIGN OF VICTORY
Meditation for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross
(Num 21:4-9; Phil 2:6-11; Jn 3:13-17)
The Israelites became impatient and spoke against Moses and God. For this, the Lord send fiery serpents among them. Then, the people came to Moses to acknowledge their sins, saying, “We have sinned…pray to the Lord, that He take away the serpents from us.” In answer to Moses’ mediation, God asked him to make a bronze serpent and set it up as a sign; “And if a serpent bit any man, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.” So, the sign that saved them took the semblance of the punishment for their sin!
This ancient sign of the bronze serpent prefigured the sign of the Cross. “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may be have eternal life.” The Cross of Christ became the fulfillment. On the Cross, Jesus bore the burden of our sins, and died for us (Is 53:4). “By His wounds we are healed” (Is 53:5).
So Jesus Christ on the Cross was lifted up as Moses lifted up the bronze serpent; lifted up with the burden of our sins above our fallenness, towering over us with the healing of our wounds by His own wounds. ‘Lifted up’ He became an offering for our sins to the Father. “Therefore, God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name…” That means our eyes must be fixed on him to be healed of the wages of our sins and be reconciled with God; and it is with the eyes of faith that we behold Him. Thus, those who believe in Jesus look upon Him to receive forgiveness of their sins. And the life He gives in return is eternal life. Those who saw the bronze serpent of old later died, but those who behold Jesus crucified will have eternal life!
That is why we exalt the Cross of Jesus; “Behold the wood of the Cross, on which hung the savior of the world…” The Cross that has become our crossover from death to life.
The Cross that crushed the head of the ancient serpent with all his plans to lead the children of God astray.
The Cross that carries us through the crossroads of life.
The Cross, in which we are lifted up and above every fear, pain and sorrow.
The Cross, our ultimate sign of victory.
And through the Cross, we confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.
Fr Jude Chinwenwa Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R
Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church,
Tedi-Muwo, Ojo, Lagos.
Tuesday September 14th, 2021.