The Bronze Snake

From Martin Luther:

“Some people imagine that faith is a quality that sticks to the heart on its own, with or without Christ. This is a dangerous error. Christ should be placed directly before our eyes so that we see and hear nothing apart from him and believe that nothing is closer to us than Christ. For he doesn’t sit idly in heaven but is continually present in us. He is working and living in us, for Paul says, ‘I no longer live, but Christ lives in me’ (Galatians 2:20). He also says that you ‘have clothed yourselves with Christ’ (Galatians 3:27). Therefore, faith is an unswerving gaze that looks on Christ alone. He is the conqueror of sin and death and the one who gives us righteousness, salvation, and eternal life.

This is beautifully illustrated by the story of the bronze snake, which points to Christ (John 3:14). Moses commanded the Israelites, who had been bitten in the desert by poisonous snakes, to look at this bronze snake with an unswerving gaze. Those who did so were healed, simply by steadily gazing at the snake alone. In contrast, others, who didn’t obey Moses, looked at their wounds instead of the snake and died. So if you want to be comforted when your conscience plagues you or when you are in dire distress, then you must do nothing but grasp Christ in faith and say, ‘I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s Son, who suffered, was crucified, and died for me. In his wounds and death, I see my sin. In his resurrection, I see the victory over sin, death, and the devil. I see righteousness and eternal life as well. I want to see and hear nothing except him.’ This is the true faith in Christ and the right way to believe.”

-- excerpted in By Faith Alone: 365 Devotional Readings

You are all God’s children by believing in Christ Jesus. Clearly, all of you who were baptized in Christ’s name have clothed yourselves with Christ. -- Galatians 3.26-27 (GWV)

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. -- Hebrews 12.2 (NIV)