John 3:14-15 “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
Continuing in the book of the Gospel of John, we see the Lord Jesus continue telling Nicodemus about salvation in the Son of God.
Jesus just finished foretelling Nicodemus about when He will ascend up to heaven, and letting him know that only He that came FROM heaven, will be able to return to Heaven. It should be noted that this is speaking about going to heaven by one’s own power, not anything to do with salvation and going to heaven once one dies.
In today’s verses Jesus refers to the time when the Lord has Moses create and lift up a symbolic serpent in the midst of the camp of Israel, so that they could be saved from a plague that was happening. Read below in Numbers 21:5-9:
“And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.
And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.
Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.”
We can see in that set of scripture how the people sinned against God and against God’s minister (yes, complaining can indeed be a sin, especially complaining against the blessings of God and claiming that God and His minister is wicked by way of bringing them out of bondage just to kill them instead of deliver them from slavery), and because of it they had to pay the consequences in the form of “fiery serpents.” These were not snakes that were engulfed in flames, but rather serpents with a brazen color to them. We see Moses was told to make a fiery serpent, and the serpent was of brass (the brazen color is described at times as “fiery”), not engulfed in actual flames. As the people sinned against God, and paid the price, they cried out to the Lord, and the Lord had Moses create a serpent and put it on a pole. When the people looked upon it, if they were bitten by the snakes, they would live. Why the Lord did not simply heal them all but rather requested a symbol and they had to look at it, is much for symbols and examples. The people needed the reminder that they had sinned against the Lord or else they would be as spoiled/entitled children who never had to be corrected. Some might call the serpent on a stick, an idol. However, that is not true as the people did not worship or adore it. They simply had to behold it. The serpent represented the punishment for their sins. And so they had to behold that punishment, while reminded that they deserved such punishment upon themselves. It was when they would acknowledge such, that the Lord would heal them. It is quite similar to repentance. Unless someone acknowledges their sin and know they deserve hell, they will not receive forgiveness.
Moving back to today’s verses, let us read how the Lord Jesus told Nicodemus that just as Moses lifted the serpent before the people, the Son of man would likewise be lifted up so that whoever believes in Him would not die (the second death, spiritual damnation in the Lake of Fire), but would live. Again, He uses the title referring to His status of Mediator/Spokesman for mankind—remember that the scriptures specifically refer to various titles in specific verses and settings because they have specific implications and meanings so it’s important to consider them.
This is referring to, once again, a future event so Nicodemus would understand when it came to pass. Jesus was likewise lifted up before the people, on a cross, crucified. He stood as a representation of the punishment the people deserved in death. Note though that this is not meant to be an exact example where people simply need to “behold” the Lord on the cross. Otherwise, we would be damned who were not able to be right there while He was on the cross. Instead, this is simply an example of being lifted up as representation of what we deserve. And this time the people must believe, which is an internal action rather than a physical directing of the eyes. Many modern “evangelists” often oversee the fact that salvation is an inward matter and not just a “say a sinner’s prayer, write your name on a card, and you get a free pass into heaven!”
Let’s not forget the huge price that Jesus paid for us, to deliver us from our own destruction due to our own sins against the One who made us!
I love you dearly and thank you for reading! I pray that you are continually blessed by the Lord each day and all you do for Him is blessed with favor! Remember to keep the brethren in your prayers each day!
Love always in Christ Jesus,
Your friend always,