Commentary on the Gospel of

Paulson Veliyannoor, CMF - Claretian Publications Philippines

Christ as Serpent

In many ancient cultures, serpent was often portrayed as a symbol of healing and life. Modern medicine has as its logo the Rod of Asclepius with snake around it. In some instances, the Bible too presents serpent as life-giving, though we seem to miss it due to the ‘Genesis effect.’ When fiery serpents killed Israelites, Yahweh asked Moses to make an image of a serpent and raise it on a standard, so that anyone bitten could look at it and be healed. Jesus borrows the same image for himself and declares that when he would be lifted up, the world would know who he truly is. St. John Chrysostom, in his 37th homily on the Fourth Gospel, underlines this comparison. A lead sarcophagus in Jerusalem, from the early Christian period, shows a cross with serpent feet. Hence, the question to ask ourselves: Which figure of snake do we look at: the venomous one or the redeeming One?


write comment
Please enter the letters as they are shown in the image above.