If I Be Lifted UP
4 Nicodemus said to Him, “how can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?
5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again,’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from of where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “how can these things be?”
10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and you do not know these things? 11 Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our Witness. 12 If I have told you earthy things and you do not believe, how will you belief if I tell you heavenly things?” 13 No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so much the son of man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
The Pharisees and the priests often spoke of heavenly things as though they were the authority on such matters. Christ starts off His next point by saying, “Hey how can you understand heavenly things? For no one can understand heavenly things since no one has ascended to heaven. But, there is one that is called the Son of Man who has been in heaven and has come down to this earth, therefore He and He alone can explain these heavenly things to you.” Nor was Christ speaking of his returning to heaven after his resurrection.
Jesus did not allow himself a moment to take a breath. He continued to talk, keeping the spell bound Nicodemus thinking instead of speaking. Jesus continued by saying, “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.”
This statement must have caused Nicodemus to sit up and take notice. Jesus was referring to an event that took place while the Israelites were wandering for forty years in the wilderness.
It was another one of those many times that they rebelled against God by complaining. In brief, because the people wished to return to Egypt God withdrew his protection. The area in which they were traveling thru was full of poisonous serpents. Without God protecting the people the serpents made their way into the camp and began biting the people causing many to become sick and die.
The people seeing the error of their way, asked Moses to beg the Lord to forgive them and take away the serpents from among them.
God directed Moses to make a brass serpent in the resemblance of the fiery serpents that had infected the camp and set the brass serpent on a pole. Then, when the people by faith looked upon the fiery serpent that was lifted up they would be healed from the deadly effects of the serpents that had infiltrated the camp and bitten the people.
Nicodemus was very familiar with this story. He along with the people that had been bit by the fiery serpents well knew that there was no saving power in the snake made of brass. They further understood that the brass snake that was hung upon the pole also represented Christ. Therefore, as the likeness of the serpent, made in the image or the likeness of the destroying serpents was lifted up for their healing, so One made in the likeness of sinful flesh was to be their redeemer. The one lifted up, would be none other than Jesus Christ.
Many of the Israelites regarded the sacrificial service as having in itself virtue to set them free from sin. God desired to teach them that it had no more value than that serpent of brass. It was to lead their minds to the Saviour. Whether for the healing of the wounds or the pardon of their sins they could do nothing for themselves but show their faith in the Gift of God. They were to look and live when they gazed upon the brass serpent, and they along with us today are to look upon the uplifted Christ to receive healing from our sins.
Therefore, all those that look upon Jesus, Who took upon Himself the likeness of one (Adam) that caused the sin problem, then we upon looking at the uplifted Saviour and by faith believe in his redeeming sacrifice, should not parish but have eternal life.
In our next post, we will explore the most popular scripture in the entire Bible (John 3:16) and learn what it is really telling us.