Are you wondering what in the world a snake, a terrarium and Jesus have in common? The answer is they were all in my sermon from yesterday and definitely connected to each other (sort of). Let me explain…
In the last apartment Lindsay and I lived in before coming to GA, we had a terrarium. Do you know what a terrarium is? A terrarium is usually a small fish bowl looking thing where people have a plant growing inside. We had a room in our apartment in Alabama that I called the terrarium. The reason I called it that, was because I kept at least 4 small plants growing in the window almost year round. I grew sunflowers for a while, I grew some herbs for a while, I grew some seasonal little plants for a while… it was beautiful to open the door to that room and see these small little plants.
You may be wondering why I kept the plants in that room and didn’t display them around the house like most people. That is a great question! The reason I had a terrarium room is because our cat has this game she likes to play where at night time while Lindsay and I are sleeping, she goes up to plants or flowers and knocks them over. We wake up to find dirt and water and plant pieces all over the place and Raya acts like she doesn’t know who has done this.
Not only is it a pain having to clean up all this dirt and water and mess, I really like having plants growing around the house, so I am always upset that she has sometimes killed the plant by knocking it over and chewing it up.
If you have a cat or know anything about cats, you know that there is very little you can do to stop a cat from doing something it wants to do. I keep a little water squirter around the house to spray our cat with but that barely stops her from doing whatever she wants to do. She wanted to knock over the plants, so she did.
So, we had a terrarium in our apartment. I kept the door shut, our cat was NOT allowed in there, I barely even let Lindsay in there!
(she looks sweet in this picture with the Bible in all, but you see the plant behind her…)
But not matter how much love and attention I gave these plants, they would always eventually die. I gave them their own room, they had a whole terrarium to thrive in, but eventually they would grow to big for the pot I had them in and I had nowhere to plant them, so they would die or just stop growing.
Despite my best efforts, I could only provide temporary life for these plants. That is similar to the passages of scripture for this week from Numbers 21:4-9 and John 3:14-21. In Numbers, the people are dying because they have been unfaithful and are being bitten by snakes. Moses is instructed to make a bronze snake that the people could look at and be saved.
Here is the thing though, even though they were saved temporarily, all of them eventually died. Maybe not then at that moment from a snake bite, but no one from 1200 BC (or around there) is still alive on earth today. Even though Moses was able to build something that gave them life, it was only temporary.
Then we have our passage from John. In John, Jesus tells Nicodemus and us too that if we believe in him, he will not give us temporary life, but eternal life. That is the main difference for us to remember today, that our best laid plans, anything we can do is not enough. Only in Christ do we have life eternal.
No terrarium or bronze snake will give us eternal life. While we may be able to make a way for ourselves for a while, our own path eventually leads to death.
I was able to provide life to those plants for a while, some for months and months, but eventually my best efforts led to death.
Moses was able to save some of the Israelites but eventually, they all died.
Jesus, on the other hand, offers us eternal life if we will just believe in him.