SNAKE-ON-A-STICK

Of Sticks and Metaphors

Of Sticks and Metaphors

Numbers 21:4-9
© Hilary F. Marckx, all rights reserved

Can you see the simile?
Can you find the allegorical implications?
Are you making the metaphorical connection
between the text of the ancient past
and the text of the not so ancient past
to the event we celebrate at our table?
There are two symbols at work here,
one a referent to the other,
yet also a referent to our present:
one, a snake effigy/idol/bronze savior
to heal a wayward people
who refused to look to God
for their deliverance
from their lostness
and sin and death in the desert,
who chose instead
wonton negativity
and constant carping;
the other a living human to heal
all people
lost and carping in the deserts
of their lives,
who suffer the ills
caused by their own
wrong choices
and consequent separation from God.
The writers of Christian Scripture
and then those who later shaped
it into what we know as the
Canon of Christian Scripture
meant for us to read this Numbers text
and then make the leap from there to
Jesus on the cross,
and then even more forward
to the sands
and dust devils
blowing
across our own hearts
and see that cross overlaid upon
our lostness
and back to that
ancient snake-on-a-stick
and its healing qualities.
The purpose of the early Christian scholars
was to convince us that
Jesus-on-a-cross
was a re-enactment
in a more current time of
that older snake-on-a-stick trick
God did for the Hebrew people,
the one that had worked so well
in that time far past.
Those early scholars
thought that Christians
would be able to,
should be able to,
make the further,
not so metaphorical,
leap to the life offered to us
in Christ if we would choose
to look to the love and healing Jesus offers
instead of to our own shortsightedness,
and draw the correlation,
make the assumption,
that if it worked once,
if it worked then,
it will certainly work again,
now.

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