Jessica Albritton, NextGen Minister LHBC

John 3:9-21
9Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

When I was around 11 or 12 my family went to the beach for vacation. Now I have gotten sunburned many times before but this particular year was the worst I had ever gotten. My entire back was bright red and tight. I could barely move it hurt so bad. That night my mom lathered me up with cool aloe and I laid on my stomach to fall asleep. Around 2 in the morning I felt a pain in my back so sharp that it woke me up. It hurt so bad I couldn’t breathe and I began to hyperventilate. It was the first and only time I ever had a panic attack. I was so freaked out it woke my mom up and she came running out of her room to see what was wrong. She kept telling me that I needed to breathe but I was so focused on the pain and the fact that my heart was beating out of my chest that I couldn’t take a full breath. After a minute that felt like an eternity my mom looked at me square in the eyes and sharply yelled, “Look at me. In the eyes!” I was so freaked out and looking all around that I couldn’t focus. In that moment I  snapped out of my panic, looked at her in the eyes, and was finally able to take a breath. My heart rate slowed and my panic subsided. It’s funny how when I wasn’t focused it was easy to feel out of control, but once I fixed my eyes on my mom I was able to take a breath. 

In Numbers 20 and 21 we read where the Israelites had been wandering in the wilderness after their escape from Egypt. Now the Israelites had a terrible track record for being the posterchildren of pessimism. They had seen the Lord do incredible works time and time again yet they still found reasons to complain. They grumbled about having no water, they complained about the food, and vented about being led to the wilderness to die. Because of the Israelites discontent and disobedience God sent venomous snakes. Naturally the Israelites cried out to God repenting of their sins but the snakes remained. The Israelites wanted the snakes to be taken away but God had another plan, He instead wanted the Israelites to shift their focus from their problems, the snakes, to the solution, the Lord. 

God told Moses, “Make a snake image out of bronze and mount it on a pole. When anyone who is bitten looks at it, he will recover.” Many of the Israelites after being bitten only focused on the pain of the venom pulsating throughout their bodies and for those that did, it resulted in death. But for the ones that shifted their focus and looked to the bronze snake, they were healed. God sent venomous snakes as a punishment for the Israelites sins but He didn’t stop loving them. God showed mercy by providing a way for the people to be healed. 

In John 3:14, Jesus takes this Old Testament event and applies a new twist when He said, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up.” Later in 2 Corinthians 5:21 we read, “He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” We all live in a fallen and a broken world full of the consequences of our sins but the consequences doesn’t infer that God is merciless. God sent His Son Jesus to live a perfect life and die a sinner’s death in order to save us from the punishment we deserve. When we focus on the pain of sin we are on a path to death, but when we shift our focus on Jesus, the savior of the world, we will be forgiven and are reconciled to God. 

What are you focused on today? As the old song goes, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full, in his wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”

Heavenly Father, help me to turn my eyes upon you. When the distractions of this world are overwhelming, help me to shift my focus from the problems I am facing to the solution from my Savior! In Jesus name, amen!

 Matthew 6:33
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”