CHIP K of thebandwithnoname takes continues his examination of one of the key factors of Christianity, the cross.

Chip Kendall
Chip Kendall

Anybody who's anybody has heard of John 3:16. If you don't know what it says, then you need to either look it up, or find a tack hammer and hit yourself over the head with it, because you need to catch up. What many people haven't heard of, however, are the two verses before John 3:16. They refer to something that occurred hundreds of years prior to Jesus' time. That mysterious cross cast its shadow long before the sun had even peeked at the seedling that grew into its timbers. It's a great picture of repentance from sin and the whole concept of Christ actually becoming sin for us. The story can be found in Numbers 21:4- 9, but since you're probably not going to look it up right this very's a not-so-different version.

The small island contained only one medicine man, and no one had seen him for days. Normally this would be perfectly acceptable, as no one really believed his superstitious mumbo-jumbo anymore. But since the start of the terrifying outbreak of what the natives called the "mjabi" - poisonous creatures too large to be worms yet too small to be considered snakes - the medicine man had suddenly become the most popular person on the island. Covered in hundreds of tormenting deadly bites, the natives refused to move more than a few hundred yards from his hut, and he refused to come out.

Everyone knew why the mjabi had been sent. For years the people had neglected to keep the rituals their ancestors had passed down, exchanging the legends and folklore for a more simple, practical way of life. Now they were merely reaping the penalties for their apathetic, displeasing behaviour in the form of venomous, puss-filled wounds all over their arms, legs and faces. Each bite was a painful reminder of their past mistakes, and now the medicine man seemed to be the only hope for this soon to be extinct people group.

Outside the hut, the smell of death permeated throughout the small crowd. What was taking him so long? Was he concocting a cure or had he simply given up? No one even knew if the man had avoided becoming a victim of the mjabi himself. The harsh frenzy of shrieking and loud groaning slowly became a stale, steady hum of chanting as the natives fell into a deep meditative trance. Surely their sincere prayers of repentance would put an end to this hellish nightmare.

Then it happened. After nearly a week of agonized torturous waiting, the entire tribe stood still as the door to the hut dramatically shook open. At first, a wave of gasps swept through the crowd, as they caught a glimpse of their beloved medicine man. But what he held in his blistered hands, firmly raised above his head, brought an even bigger shock. In time, it would prove to be the antidote they'd never dreamed of. Simply gazing upon it brought newness to their broken bodies, and the bites shrivelled away. Their symbol of healing wasn't a potted herbal plant. It wasn't a bright, flaming torch or even some mighty, powerful sword. Their symbol of healing was a beautifully hand crafted, wooden mjabi.

"And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so I, the Son of Man, must be lifted up on a pole, so that everyone who believes in me will have eternal life." John 3:14-15 CR

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