Lift High the Cross
Out in the dessert, Moses lifts up a cross-shaped stick. This is the moment of maximum anxiety. The people have reached the end of their own resources. They are lost. They are sick. The are, what Jesus would later call, the poor in faith. They are entering a 12 Step program for irreligious people — which begins with admitting that we are powerless to save ourselves. On the stick is a brazen snake. This drains the last bit of rationality and ‘this is how we do things’ out of the situation. Imagine going down the aisle of your church with a snake on a stick.
The people just have to look at the snake pole to be healed. This is a pretty good analogy to the free nature of God’s grace in Jesus Christ. That’s why the story of Moses and the snake-stick precedes our favorite verse, John 3:16.