Ophidiophobia: The Fear of Snakes

snake1Ever since Adam and Eve listened to the smooth talking serpent in the Garden of Eve, and they were snake bit by listening to his bad advice, people have been wary of snakes.  Evidently a man in San Diego should have exercised a little more caution.

When Todd Fassler was bitten by a rattlesnake earlier this month, he joined the ranks of the other seven or eight thousand people who will be bitten by a venomous snake this year.  Of that number only 5 or 6 will succumb to the poison and die.

Since he was bitten, Fassler has learned that snake bites can be both painful and sickening as well as expensive.  He almost relapsed when he learned his hospital bill came to a total of $153,000.

Some snake bites can take a toll on a person’s physical health, but there is another one that is even more deadly when the discussion turns to spiritual consequences.  The snake bite of sin only has one cure and it is Jesus.

To illustrate this, Jesus, referenced an incident in Numbers 21 when he was speaking to Nicodemus:  “Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness. In the same way, the Son of Man must be lifted up; then all those who believe in Him will experience everlasting life.”

Before you toy with temptation and tinker with sin, you may want to think about the consequences:  The price might be much higher than $153,000.

Under the Cloak of Darkness

into-the-lightHis name meant “victory of the people,” but Nicodemus was living a life of spiritual defeat that left him thirsting for something more.   His religious zeal had left him parched and perched.  The dryness of the religion he had practiced from the time of his birth had withered his soul, and the conundrum of messianic proportions left him sitting in a precarious position.

It was within the framework of this nodus that Nicodemus went under the cloak of darkness to find Jesus and said: “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”

Even though Nicodemus could see the signs he was blind to his sins, so Jesus went straight to the heart of the matter:  “I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Like many people today, Nicodemus thought he had lived a good live.  After all, he was a Pharisee and even a member of the ruling council—the Sanhedrin.  He was no religious malcontent, but he questioned the content of Jesus’ discourse.

If he followed Jesus what course would his life take?  Would it would lead him away from Judaism and the prestige and prominence of his position?  Was he ready to sacrifice everything that he had worked so hard to achieve?

Nicodemus decided to wander away to ponder and pray.  I believe Nicodemus re-examined the Messianic prophecies and they validated the claims of Jesus.

When the third chapter of John comes to a close, Nicodemus is never head of again until Jesus is crucified.  Then he came out of the darkness to identify with Jesus and to prepare the body of His Lord for burial.

Which stage of Nicodemus’ life best describes you?  Is it the under-the-cloak-of-darkness Nicodemus, the closet-Christian Nicodemus, or is it the stand-up-and-stand-out for-Jesus Nicodemus?

Just 5 Words

New-Birth-missionary-baptiiThe sentence consisted of five brief words.  They were common words and each by itself was powerless; however when the five were woven together in a sentence, they communicated an extraordinary truth.

To someone who was as religious as he was the words were startling.  He most likely had excelled at his bar mitzvah.  If his rabbi had graded him, he probably was at the head of the class and an A+ student.

But Nicodemus had the rug pulled out from under him when Jesus said these five words:  “You must be born again.”  Even though he was a Pharisee, a member of the Sanhedrin, and a religious person, Jesus said Nicodemus still needed to experience the new birth.

The new birth is much like your physical birth:  Whatever you need is provided, the pain of the process is felt by another, and someone else does the work.

There is one major difference.  When you were born the first time, you had no choice in the matter; however, the choice is yours when you think of your second birth.

The power, the effort, and the pain of your second birth are not yours, but the choice is:  “For whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13).”

Your new birth is by God’s power, according to God’s plan, and for God’s purpose.  Notice how John expresses this: “To us, the greatest demonstration of God’s love for us has been his sending his only Son into the world to give us life through him. We see real love, not in that fact that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to make personal atonement for our sins. If God loved us as much as that, surely we, in our turn, should love each other (I John 4:9-11)!”

Let me leave you with three questions to keep you thinking:

  • Have you experienced the real love of God?
  • Do people see it you?
  • Do you share it with others?