The First Reading speaks of the time Israel complained and poisonous serpents attacked them. They came to Moses and repented saying: we have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you: pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us. God commanded Moses to make a poisonous snake and set it on a pole. Those bitten by the serpents would not die if they looked at it.
Jesus referred to this incident in the Gospel today, repeating the phrase: you will die in your sin, three times. The last time he mentioned this he said You would die in your sins, unless you believe that I am he. They could not imagine God would become man. Yet, Jesus will prove his humanity when he dies on the Cross. Jesus said: when you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realize I am he, and that I do nothing on my own, but I speak these things as the Father instructed me. And the one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him.
Jesus shows us what it means to believe in him: to hear what he says and to do what pleases the Father. The Israelites spoke against God and Moses, in spite of what God had done for them. Because of their impatience, they sinned against God. For us, we believe what Jesus says. We cannot pick and choose what we want to believe. It is an all or nothing deal with Jesus. We either believe him or not because he speaks what the Father tells him.
Obedience is proof of our faith in Jesus. If we do not obey everything Jesus says, we do not believe him. Believing all he says is different from doing all he says. We are imperfect human being and will fall short of his expectations. When we do, we turn back to Jesus and look at our sin and believe he is God, who saves us. Israel looked at the cause of their death and they were saved. Jesus says when he is lifted up, we will realize he is! When we come to Jesus and lift him up, let him rule our lives, then we will know who he is. This should lead us to believe him and obey him.
Lord, raise yourself in my life. Let me see you, and look at you so I can realize you are my God who saves me.