I’ve heard very few sermons about the brazen serpent that Jesus refers to in John 3:14. However if you search the numerous commentaries and sermons pasts you can find much said. What is the significance of this seemingly obscure verse?
“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)
Do you remember the Old Testament story Jesus refers to? Most likely reading the Book of Numbers is not high on your list so here’s the story:
“They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!’ Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, ‘We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us.’ So Moses prayed for the people. The LORD said to Moses, ‘Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.’ So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.” (Numbers 21:4-9)
So what is Jesus trying to teach us? Plain and simple…faith. If you believe, you will live. Notice that Moses did not write that everyone who had been bitten were saved; he wrote anyone. Surely no one bitten by the snake would scoff at an obvious remedy with scorn? You do understand human nature better than that, do you not?
Do not some of your unbelieving friends scoff at your obvious transformation after receiving Christ? Charles Haddon Spurgeon explains it this way:
“The remedy of the bitten Israelites was a brazen serpent; and the remedy for sinners is Christ crucified. ‘Stuff, nonsense,’ said some of the children of Israel, when they heard that a brazen serpent lifted up on a pole was to be the means of their cure. Many of them laughed in the jollity of unbelief—absurd, ridiculous; who ever heard of such a thing, how can it be? A serpent of brass lifted up upon a pole, to cure us of these wounds, by being looked Upon! why all the skill of the physicians cannot do it; will a glance at a brazen Serpent do it? It is impossible! This much I know, if they did not despise the brazen serpent, there be many that despise Christ crucified. Shall I tell you what they say of him? They say of him as they did of the brazen serpent. Some Wise one said—’Why it was a serpent that did the mischief; how can a serpent Undo it?’ Yes, and men will say, ‘It was by man that sin and death came into the World, and can a man be the means of our salvation?'”
Another brother in Christ and I are currently in conversation with an atheist, or an unbeliever as he self-describes himself. He scoffs at God and Christ as an imaginary friend; he is very adept at using mockery as are all atheists.
What shall we do with such a man? Pray, pray that the miracle of salvation breaks through such a wicked and hard heart. It is wickedness that causes such mockery and hardness that causes spiritual blindness and pride. It took repentance from the Israelites to look upon the raised serpent; it takes repentance for us to look upon the Cross. In both cases sin has caused God’s judgment and our deaths, both physical and spiritual. If we will look upon Christ, whom became sin for us, and we acknowledge and trust in that sacrifice, we will be saved.
If you believe, you will live.
NOTE: One of you forwarded Friday’s devotional and a man emailed me asking to be added to the devotional list. While I saved his address I failed to add him to the list. I am currently migrating from one computer to a new one and so I’m not sure who contacted me. So I pray that man will contact me again and I will immediately add him to the list. Thank you.
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Copyright © 2010 David Jeffers