As we celebrate Holy Cross Day, we focus on the Old Testament reading and take our devotion from Portals of Prayer.
1 Corinthians 1:18–25
The Lord God sent fiery serpents to the Israelites as punishment for sinning against Him, but when they acknowledged their sin, He provided healing through the bronze serpent. So it is with Jesus. We daily sin against God, but He offered up His Son in our place so we may be forgiven and have everlasting life.
When the people of Israel turned from God in impatient unbelief, He afflicted them with poisonous snakes. Many died. But the Lord provided a remedy for the venom as He instructed Moses to craft a bronze serpent and hoist it on a pole. Whoever had been bitten and looked to it would not die but live (see Numbers 21:4–9). That which brought the Israelites relief looked like the creature that delivered death.
So it is with Jesus. Though He is the sinless Son of the Father, stretched out on the cross He looks like sin and death. He appears in the form of the old snake that lured our first parents away from their Creator, poisoning them with the lie that they would be like God. The Son of Man is made sin for us, that in Him we might have the righteousness of God. Elevated on the cross, His ugliness becomes our beauty. His shame is our glory. His death is our life. We are not repulsed or driven away by the Savior, who hangs cursed and dead. Because elevated like Moses’ bronze snake, He is redemption, the forgiveness of sins, for all who look to Him in faith.
Lord Jesus, lifted up like the ancient serpent, draw my heart and mind to You through the preaching of the word of the cross. Amen.
Devotional reading and prayer are from Portals of Prayer, April–June 2011, April 3 devotion © 2011 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.