skip to Main Content
Email Us! 414 S. Main St. Sherwood, Michigan 49089

John part eight

John 3:14-15 “14And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life.” (NLT)

One of the amazing things about the Bible is how the Old Testament & the New Testament are interwoven together.
They compliment one another… they do not contradict each other.
I love to look for the truth about Jesus in the Old Testament.
For example, when I read the story of Elisha telling Naaman to go to the Jordan River and dip himself 7 times in order to get rid of his leprosy…
I see how the process of sanctification… that 2nd work of grace after we are saved when the Lord slowly & gently reveals sin in our lives which still remains & then removes the junk from a willing heart… a repentant heart… a heart wanting to be free of that junk.
And while it can happen in an instant, most of the time the process of our heart & life being purified by God is a process…
We have to go back to the river… we have to go back to God… time & time again until He can fully cleanse us of the leprosy of sin like Naaman was cleansed of his physical leprosy…
In this conversation between Nicodemus & Jesus that we started last week, Jesus is trying to explain to Nicodemus that we must be born again.

And in these 2 verses I just read, Jesus is referring to a story from Numbers 21 about their journey from Mount Hor.
Numbers 21:4 “Then the people of Israel set out from Mount Hor, taking the road to the Red Sea to go around the land of Edom. But the people grew impatient with the long journey…” (NLT)
Someone in the back seat hollered, “Are we there yet?”

Numbers 21:5 “…and they began to speak against God and Moses. ‘Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die here in the wilderness?’ they complained. ‘There is nothing to eat here and nothing to drink. And we hate this horrible manna!’” (NLT)
Can we just stop there?
Have you ever complained to God about the circumstances of your life?
I think we all have at one time or another…

I want to take this opportunity to caution us all about complaining about something or someone God provides for you.

         Just coming through Thanksgiving & a day we set aside in our country to be grateful & thankful is the antidote to grumbling & complaining.
You cannot have gratefulness & complaining in your life at the same time.
It just can’t happen.
On Thanksgiving, the devotional I receive via e-mail from Dr. David Jeremiah talked about how the Apostle Paul instructed us in…
I Thessalonians 5:18 “In everything give thanks…” (NKJV)
Notice it doesn’t say we are supposed to give thanks for everything… but in everything give thanks.

In every situation in life there are reasons to give thanks.
When the famous preacher Charles Spurgeon was robbed on the streets of London, his wife asked him why he was so thankful. He said he wasn’t thankful that he was robbed, but he was thankful the robber took only his money and not his life and that the robber got away with very little. Finally, Spurgeon said, ‘I’m thankful to God that I was not the robber.’
         The Israelites did not have the same mindset that the Apostle Paul instructs us to have.
They were complaining about what God was providing them… manna.
It was likely a light bread God had prepared for them.
And they complained…
Numbers 21:6 “So the Lord sent poisonous snakes among the people, and many were bitten and died.” (NLT)
Matthew Henry in his commentary indicates that these were fiery serpents… “inflaming the body, putting it immediately into a high fever, scorching it with an insatiable thirst.”

If you recall, in v.5 they were just complaining about having nothing to drink.
Well, God sends them a thirst no water would quench.

Numbers 21:7 “Then the people came to Moses and cried out, ‘We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take away the snakes.’ So Moses prayed for the people.” (NLT)
Notice that they don’t want to talk to God about the situation… they ask Moses to pray for them…

Why didn’t they pray for themselves?
Whenever you are not right with God, you’re not going to be likely to want to talk to Him… but you might ask someone you know is right with God to pray on your behalf & that’s what the Israelites did.

They ask Moses to ask God to take the serpents away…
Well, Moses is a good shepherd for his flock & he talks to God on their behalf.
As a pastor, I have to believe he didn’t want to do that…
They hadn’t listened to him…
They hadn’t listened to God…
And now they want him to fix it…
They had just been complaining about Moses…
And now that the chips were down, they ask him for help.
Let’s not overlook this… isn’t it challenging to help people who have mistreated you?
Imagine how Moses must have felt when he tried to lead & help these people… & all they do is question him & murmur against him… & then they want him to fix what they had caused by not listening to him…

As they say in Kentucky, “If that don’t beat all!”
But Moses is a godly man & he obliges… he talks to God on their behalf…
Wouldn’t you have loved to have heard that prayer?
“Yeah Lord, it’s me… You’re not going to believe this one… well, you will because You’re God so you already know what is going on… but I’ve got a situation down here… yeah, it’s these knuckleheads again… yeah, I know they didn’t listen to us, but they wanted me to talk to You about this serpent situation… they’re very sorry… & they’re real thirsty… I gotta say that was a nice touch, Lord! Anyway, will you please help them?”

And here’s what happens next…
Numbers 21:8-9 “8Then the Lord told him, ‘Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to a pole. All who are bitten will live if they simply look at it!’ 9So Moses made a serpent out of bronze and attached it to a pole. Then anyone who was bitten by a snake could look at the bronze snake and be healed!” (NLT)
Can we jump back to Nicodemus for a moment?
If you remember from last week, Nicodemus was not just a religious leader of the Jews, he was a leader of the religious leaders.

There is absolutely no question he would have been familiar with the Old Testament like the back of his own hand… & he would have known this story Jesus was referring to.
Some commentaries indicate that Jesus referring to these verses in Numbers is what really helped Nicodemus cross the finish line of faith.
         And Jesus really helps Nicodemus connect the dots in…
John 3:14 “… as Moses lifted up the bronze snake… so the Son of Man must be lifted up.” (NLT)
Let’s try to connect the dots together…

In both the story of the bronze serpent being lifted up & Jesus being lifted up on the cross we see that death was the punishment for sin.
In Numbers, death was the punishment for complaining against God & in the New Testament, if we have sin in our life we are under the punishment of death.
In both the Old & the New Testament, God provides the remedy…

This teaches us…
Sin is everywhere… & affects everything
Human history is filled with the presence of sin…

From the beginning in the Garden of Eden with Adam & Eve all the way to the end of time in Revelation…
In Numbers, those serpents were everywhere.
If you look around our world, sin is everywhere.
And, if you think about it the consequences of sin is everywhere as well.
When the snakes bit the Israelites, the venom would fill the entire body & that person would be racked with pain & fever.
Because of Adam, we too have been infected with the sickness of sin.
And like the venom, it affects every part of our life.
         If you give in to temptation or you comprise your integrity in one area of your life… I’m here to tell you that it will affect every other area of your life.
And, none of us is immune…
Romans 3:23 “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (NLT)
            So, we’ve all blown it… we’ve all sinned…

This teaches us not only is sin everywhere but…
Sin is too powerful for us, but not for God
God didn’t give the Israelites a recipe so they could whip up an antidote for the venom.

There was nothing that they could do to save their lives.
The answer could only be found in God.
You can see people in our world everywhere trying to come up with their own antidote to the venom of sin.
But, the solution can only be found in Christ.
We must LTJ… look to Jesus.
That’s what the Israelites had to do… it was pretty simple…
All they had to do was look to the pole…
And all we have to do is look to the cross…
the place where Jesus bled & died to take away our sin.
For some people that is too easy…
I can see where it would be hard to accept…
When God really convicts you of sin & you realize how far you are from Him & how much you have sinned against Him…
The guilt from the venom fills your body & racks you with an inescapable pain…
So, you think there has to be more to it than just agreeing with God about your sin…
Shouldn’t there be a huge penalty?
That’s what we would do if we were sentencing each other…

We’d throw the book at each other…
That’s probably what Moses wanted to do with the Israelites, but that’s not what God wanted to do.
This story teaches us…
Sin is everywhere & affects everything…
Sin is too powerful for us to deal with but not too powerful for God…
Sin’s solution is singular
The only solution to sin was for Jesus to be lifted up on the cross.
There was a huge penalty for your sin & mine…
But we didn’t have to pay the penalty…
It was paid for us…
That is what grace is all about…
And let me tell you, if there had been any other solution, God would have done it, but there was not another way to redeem us.
Jesus had to be lifted up…
It was the only way for us to be saved…
The bronze serpent was the only way for the snake bitten Israelites to be saved…
Jesus is teaching Nicodemus that He (Jesus) is the only way to be saved.
And isn’t it interesting that the way the Israelites were saved from the venom of the snake in the O.T. was to look @ a snake on a pole!
If you’d been bitten by a serpent…
& that bite was taking your life…
would you ever want to look @ another serpent?
I doubt that would have been the cure we would have come up with.

The serpent on that pole reminded them of their sin.
And when they looked @ that serpent, they were freed them from the sting of the serpent’s bite.
And in the N.T., Jesus became sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of Christ.
He became our curse…
When we look to the cross, we see our problem on the cross.
Though Jesus lived a sinless life, we see Him covered with the sins of the entire world.
And it was our sin who put Him on that cross.

But, here’s the great news:
         Anyone can be saved
There is an unconditional pardon for sin
Everyone has blown it, but anyone can be saved! That is good news!
Notice that in Numbers it said that “…all who are bitten will live if they simply look at it!
Notice in John 3:15 …everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life.
Anyone… from anywhere…

It was unconditional…
Anyone who was bitten could live if they would look at the serpent.
It didn’t matter which of the 12 tribes of Israel you were from…
anyone could be healed…
And Jesus is saying the same thing to us…

John 3:15 “…so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life.”
Everyone…

Everyone has sinned so everyone can be saved…
Everyone has been bitten so everyone can receive the antidote…
         There are people all around us who have been bitten with the sickness of sin & they are dying…
Romans 3:23 told us that “all have sinned…”
But Romans 6:23 tells us “the wages of sin is death”.
In other words, “Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death.” (The Message)
         And we try to do a lot of things to help people when what they really need is the cure for sin.

Let us point them to the cross… the cure…
If we don’t talk about what it means to be lost in church or with those we know, we are letting them die of the snake bite without pointing them to the cross…
What if people go their whole life without knowing the cure?
What if people go their whole life in & out of church without ever being pointed to the cure?
The only cure for our sin is the cross…

         Dear ones, being saved is not complicated but at times we make it complicated.
It all boils down to this…
If you understand that you have a problem in your life & that problem is sin…
And you realize that you are a sinner…
The only way you can be forgiven of that sin is to look to Jesus Christ on the cross as your crucified substitute…
Ephesians 1:7 “He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins.” (NLT)
And looking to Him, be born again.

Back To Top