This is a sermon from Zion Lutheran Church in Belleville, IL, delivered by Pastor Jin O Jeong, an assistant pastor for the Korean congregation.
"They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”
Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.
The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived."
"As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
"'Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.'
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God."
Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
In many respects, there seems to be obvious differences between Korea and America.
One of these differences is the price of healthcare. It is a well-known fact that the hospital bills in America are some of the most expensive in the world. Recently, one of our church members, who does not have health insurance, had to have an endoscopy and blood test done. The total cost for all her examinations was $7,000. Usually, the cost of childbirth in the US is approximately $10,000.
For this reason, the health insurance premium in the US is relatively higher than that of Korea. It is no wonder then that an estimated 20 percent of the nation’s population are without health insurance.
The situation is far worse for Koreans living in the United States. According to a public survey, about 75 percent of Koreans have no health insurance.
It is not easy for them to go to the hospital when they are sick. Even if they get treatment, the bill drives them into bankruptcy.
After Obamacare took effect on January 1st, 2014, many Koreans were fortunate to have health insurance through the program. However, a lot of Koreans still do not have health insurance.
Today's reading from the Old Testament shows that the people of Israel complained and complained about everything, and were dying from a deadly serpent’s bite.
However, God heard Moses’ prayer, and gave them an answer.
Instead of removing the serpents, He gave them salvation from the serpents.
God ordered Moses to duplicate one of the serpents in bronze and place the bronze serpent on a pole. Moses did as God commanded and everyone who looked at the serpent on the pole survived the snake bite.
Our lives are full of sin, poisonous serpents that the devil, the world, and even our own sinful nature send against us. Like a cancer cell, sin destroys our soul and mind, and has continues to increase within us. Sin leads us to be frustrated and discouraged. To heal this serious illness, people are looking for money, power, and pleasure, but they fail to find it, as there is no treatment in this world for it.
So then, who and what can be done about these sins?
From today's Gospel reading, we can see that there is only one who can heal this illness: His name is Jesus Christ, the one who died on the Cross. And the cross is identified with the bronze serpent set on a pole.
Jesus Christ on the Cross is like a spiritual doctor for us. He can cure all diseases: sin, suffering, and pain. He can also heal, not only preexisting conditions, but also the present and future conditions, all of which are free of charge.
He also has promised to give us eternal life as proclaiming the Kingdom of God. This is called “Jesus Care.”
In the book of John, it says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
By delivering up his only beloved Son on the cross, God paid for “Jesus Care”.
In order to redeem sinful humanity, God paid for all treatment by delivering up suffering and the death of His Son in the grief of love.
So then, what can we do for salvation? Do our good works, or our good will, help us to earn our salvation? No.
In Ephesians 2:8, Paul said: “By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” In other words, ‘Jesus Care’ is free. The entire cost is free. It is only by God’s grace that He gives us this great benefit. Salvation is not from us; it is simply a gift of God. All we need is faith. And ‘Jesus Care’ enrollment is quite simple. If we believe that Jesus Christ died and rose again for us, we have ‘Jesus Care.’
Now, while we observe the Lent season, let us deeply meditate on this great love of God. Let us take part in the suffering of Jesus Christ. Let us proclaim this for the unbeliever: “Come and enroll in ‘Jesus Care’. It is free. There is no kind of insurance like this on Earth.”
May the peace of God that transcends all understanding keeps your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.
Reverend and Doctor Jin O Jeong is an assistant pastor for the Korean congregation at Zion Lutheran Church, Belleville, IL. He graduated from Luther University and received a Ph.D from Yonsei University. He was also a Research Fellow at Hebrew University and Visiting Scholar at Yale Divinity School. Tel: 618-920-9311 Email : firstname.lastname@example.org