“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:14-15

As “the teacher of Israel” (v. 10), Nicodemus would have been familiar with the story of the serpent in the wilderness recorded in Numbers 21:4-9. The people of Israel were travelling from Egypt to Canaan and although they had experienced God’s goodness and miraculous provision each day of their journey, they became discouraged by their hardships and began to speak out against God and Moses. When God punished them by sending deadly snakes into their camp resulting in many deaths, they came to Moses in desperation asking him to plead with God to remove the serpents. God directed Moses to make a bronze serpent and put it on a pole and promised that those who looked at it would be healed of their deadly snake bite.

This incident with Nicodemus occurs early in the ministry of the Lord Jesus and it is remarkable to see that Jesus is subtly predicting His own death on the cross, though Nicodemus couldn’t have understood it then. But from our vantage point, we can clearly see that when Jesus says He will be lifted up in a similar way to the serpent, He is speaking of the cross.

But the purpose of His death is that we might have life, eternal life. The Israelites of old were perishing because of God’s judgement on their sins; we, too, are under God’s condemnation because of our sins (John 3:18). The only way to avoid that judgement is through the death of Jesus. He insisted that His death was necessary for our life– the Son of Man must be lifted up.

It certainly must have seemed strange to the Israelites to think that by looking at a serpent on a pole they could be healed, but it was an act of faith, a clear response to God’s revelation and promise. And those who believed God’s word looked and lived.

In the same way, Jesus promises us that if we by a definite act of faith put our trust in Him, we will not perish but have eternal life.

For faith to be effective it must be in a worthy object. Perhaps you feel that your faith is small but as long as that faith is directed to the Lord Jesus, who is worthy of your trust, you can be sure of receiving His promise of eternal life.


By admin