Friday, March 10, 2017

As Moses lifted up the snake in the desert... / Look to the Son

The Revd Dr John Stott, preaching on John 3, tells the story of The Revd William Haslam, who was apparently converted by his own preaching!

Haslam tells of "a quaint mediaeval illustration of Moses
lifting up the serpent in the wilderness, copied from a
valuable manuscript (Book of Prayers) in the Bodleian
Library at Oxford"

Haslam describes the picture:

the cross or pole on which the serpent was elevated stood in the centre, dividing
two sets of characters, and that there were serpents on one
side, and none on the other.

Behind the figure of Moses, Is a man standing with his
arms crossed on his breast, looking at the brazen serpent.
He has evidently obtained life and healing by a look. On
the other side, I observed that there were four kinds of
persons represented, who were not doing as this healed one
did to obtain deliverance.

(1) First, there is one who is kneeling in front of the cross,
but he is looking towards Moses, and not at the serpent,
and apparently confessing to him as if he were a priest.

(2) Next behind him is one lying on his back, as if he was
perfectly safe, though he is evidently in the midst of danger ;
for a serpent may be seen at his ear, possibly whispering
" Peace, peace, when there is no peace."

(3) Still further back from the cross there is a man with a
sad face doing a work of mercy, binding up the wounds of
a fellow-sufferer, and little suspecting that he himself is
involved in the same danger.

(4) Behind them all, on the background, is a valiant man
who is doing battle with the serpents, which may be seen
rising against him in unabating persistency.

I observed that none of these men were looking at the
brazen serpent as they were commanded to do. I cannot
describe how excited and interested I became ; for I saw in
this illustration a picture of my own life. Here was the
way of salvation clearly set forth, and four ways which are
not the way of salvation, all of which I had tried and found
unavailing. This was the silent but speaking testimony of
some unknown denizen of a cloister, who lived in the
beginning of the fifteenth century, in the days of ignorance
and superstition. But notwithstanding this darkness, he
was brought out into the marvellous light of the Gospel,
and has left this interesting record of his experience.

Like him, I also had fought with serpents, for I began
in my own strength to combat with sin, and strove by my
own resolutions to overcome. From this, I went on to do
good works, and works of mercy, in the vain hope of thus
obtaining the same for myself Then, I relied in the Church
for salvation, as God's appointed ark of safety ; but not feel-
ing secure, I took another step beyond, and sought forgive-
ness through the power of the priest. This I found was as
ineffectual as all my previous efforts. At last, I was brought
(by the Spirit of God) as a wounded and dying sinner, to
look at the Crucified One. . Then (as I have related), I
found pardon and peace. Ever since it has been my joy
and privilege (like Moses pointing to the serpent) to cry,
*' Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of
the world" (John i. 29). *' I have determined to know
nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified ;" that is, to tell
only of the person and office of Jesus Christ our Lord.

John Stott - All Souls, Langham Place - At dead of night - C111 Face to Face (Interviews with Jesus in John's Gospel) – John 3vv1-15

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