“No one has ever gone up into the presence of God except the One who came down from that Presence, the Son of Man. In the same way that Moses lifted the serpent in the desert so people could have something to see and then believe, it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up—and everyone who looks up to Him, trusting and expectant, will gain a real life, eternal life.” ~John 3:13-15 (The Message)
This week I am taking a break from my discourse on humility to share with you what Jesus said in the 3rd chapter of John’s Gospel. Actually I’m gonna focus on the part where He says “just as Moses lifted the serpent up in the desert…etc.” And since we are post Resurrection Sunday I think this is fitting for this week. So without any further ado…
A few Sundays back (at Trinity Alliance Church) Pastor John Mol gave one of his usual intense sermons and its basis can be found in this verse, “You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3) Pastor John conveyed to us that God always has His eyes on us even when we don’t. Whenever we feel rattled by the world around us we need to look up at our God and not out across our horizon as it is obscured by our circumstances. Pastor John also said that we tend to look around at earthly things for peace as they come and go when we can find constant peace by looking up to our God. Good stuff to rest on a Sunday with…then came Monday morning’s drive to work.
While I was at my first red light I pressed the “POWER” button on my truck’s CD player and I hear a voice say “John Chapter Three”. The narrator goes on, then Nicodemus chimes in and then Jesus speaks. Then I hear verse 14-15, “But even as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Now I hit the back space button and take another listen, then another. I say to myself “Jesus was always a Deuteronomical teacher” and then I thought about that brazen serpent on a pole and what it was meant for. Turn with me to Numbers 21:9, “And Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole. And it happened that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he looked upon the serpent of brass, he lived.”
The story here is like it always is in this part of The Bible. The people complained about Moses, manna, and what they thought was aimless wandering around. So in order to teach those rebellious Israelites, who murmured and complained a lesson, God sent fiery serpents into their midst to punish them. Then God told Moses to put a bronze serpent on a pole, with the promise that whoever looked up at it would live.
Hmmm…Look up. Pastor John said to look up. Hmm, anyway back to Jesus and to borrow a bit from R.C. Sproul.
If I take what is read in Numbers 21:9 and apply it what I come up with is even though you are receiving punishment for your disobedience you must look up to receive mercy. And God promised it so it has to be for real. And this is where Jesus is at…and the word “must” has to be discussed. Jesus said “so must the Son of Man be lifted up and the use of the word “must” carries a double meaning here. First in the sense of exaltation because He is The Son of The Most High God and the second is Christ’s death on the cross, His resurrection, and His glorification together reveal the glory of God. The word “must” points to God’s sovereign purpose. The crucifixion was the keystone of God’s eternal plan to save His people.
Now when we look at verse 15 in John 3 we see the same kinda promise that the Israelites got back in Numbers…all you have to do is believe, LOOK UP, receive mercy and live. But wait!!! This is New Testament stuff and we’re under grace so now we get to add eternal life. Why? Because of John 3:16-17, “For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him.” Total promise!! Oh and by the way, the cross is not responsible for God’s love; rather it was His love which conceived the cross as the one method by which we could be saved. Tozer said that. LOOK UP!! Amen?
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) is married with two adult children (you may remember them from summer staff) and serves on the Deacon Board at Trinity Alliance Church in Cologne NJ
Click Here to Download our 2016 Daily Bible Reading Plan
Daily Quote: “The work of Christ on the cross did not influence God to love us, did not increase that love by one degree, did not open any fount of grace or mercy in His heart. He had loved us from old eternity and needed nothing to stimulate that love.” ~A.W. Tozer.
This Week’s Verse to Memorize:
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3 Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah ~Psalm 46:1-3