Tuesday in the Fifth Week of Lent
Today, Jesus faces the struggle of any teacher–he has told them and told them and they still don’t get it. I can almost see the exasperation on His face when they ask who He is, and he replies “What I told you from the beginning.” We see the same struggle in the first reading. The people–who by this point have seen God liberate them from the power of a major force in the region and care for them in the desert–and they are complaining. Specifically, they are complaining about the food God has miraculously provided for some time, because they are getting tired of it. The lesson of God’s love is not sinking in with them, to put it mildly.
God is a fairly determined teacher, not above shocking His students so that they come to see who He is. In Numbers, the shock occurs when the Israelites are punished with snakes. After, a bronze snake is lifted up for them to look upon and be healed. In the gospels, this comes when Jesus Himself is lifted up onto the Cross for us to look upon and be healed. At this moment, we may recognize both the severity of our sins and the depths of God’s love for us.