“No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” John 3: 13-15 (ESV)
One again, the Israelites were complaining, forgetting the goodness and provision of God. He had only delivered them from 400 years of slavery and sustained them with food and water…IN A DESERT!!!! How quickly they had forgotten, so God sent serpents to attack the Israelites. When overcome by this danger, they cried out to Moses, once again, to intercede for them. God, in His mercy, told Moses to make a bronze snake and place it on a pole. Whoever looked upon the snake would be healed. Moses obeyed, and the Israelites were saved. Numbers 21:5-9
Fast forward about 1,500 years to the conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus. Jesus had been “outed’ as the Son of God and baptized by John the Baptist. Nicodemus, a member of the ruling court in the Israel community, paid Jesus a visit one evening to find out more information about the claims being made about him, especially the many baptisms now being performed by Jesus.
Jesus explains himself to Nicodemus, and the meaning of baptism, by referring to the incident of Moses and the bronze snake. If anyone should have understood the significance of this Moses story and been able to recognize the fulfillment of prophecy by Jesus, it should have been Nicodemus! He had spent years studying the Torah and would have been like all the Jews, awaiting the Messiah. After all, the Israelites were finding themselves again enslaved by a foreign power, not Egypt as in Moses’s day, but the Roman Empire. However, just as the Israelites were too sinful and self-focused, so was Nicodemus and most of the Jews.
They couldn’t see that Jesus, the Son of Man, would take on the full sin of mankind and become like the serpent, the symbol of sin and separation. He would then be placed on a pole, the cross, to pay the ultimate price as man’s perfect and final sacrifice. Just as the Israelites who returned to faith in God by looking to the bronze serpent, would not die, so all those who look to Jesus as their true sacrifice, will be saved.
Fast forward to 2018. Where do you find yourself today? Are you like the Israelites in the desert? Do you find yourself grumbling and complaining because you have forgotten about God’s mercy and His provision that lies all around you?
Are you like Nicodemus, so set in your own way of righteousness and knowledge of God’s Word that you are missing the freedom and grace that God has set right before you?
Today, let’s set our eyes in the direction of hope. Don’t look outward or inward to find your peace and provision. Instead look upward to the only One who can truly provide peace!