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The Fourth Sunday of Lent

Numbers 21.4–9
Ephesians 2.1–10
John 3.14–21

The serpent slithers its way through myth and legend, poetry and art. Too potent a symbol to be ignored, some cultures have worshipped it, while others have feared and loathed it. Freud said predictable things about it, echoed in D. H. Lawrence’s famous poem and in numerous pop-psychology theories about getting in touch with our darker sides.

To the surprise of some brought up on Numbers 21 and John 3, where the bronze serpent on the pole foreshadows Jesus on the cross, the image of a snake twined around a staff had long been a symbol of healing, perhaps of the healing god himself, in (for instance) the cult of Asclepius. And the serpent who makes his first entrance in the third chapter of the Bible remains at least a background figure until he receives his final doom in the third chapter from the end...

Taken from Twelve Months of Sundays Year B by N T Wright

Publisher: SPCK - view more
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