March 14, 2024

Jesus Spares Us From Death

Numbers 21:4-9; John 3:14-16

“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

—  John 3:14-15

In John 3, Jesus teaches that the strange story about a bronze snake in Numbers 21 points to him and his work of healing. Jesus saves us from sin and death. The book of Numbers includes many stories about the Israelites’ complaining to God as they trekked through the wilderness. In Numbers 21 they complain again about the food. And in this case God punishes them for their rebellion and disobedience. Like many Bible stories, this one continues with a plea for forgiveness, and God provides a merciful response. But the response is very unusual. God says, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole. Then whoever looks at it can live.”

The bronze snake that Moses made represented a sort of antidote to the venom of the snakes that were biting people. Looking to the bronze snake that was lifted up spared the people from death. Jesus brought up this old story while he was teaching about the work he had come to do. Jesus came to save us from the death we brought on ourselves by sinning and rebelling against God. Lifted up on a cross for our sake, Jesus died to pay the price of our sin. And when we look up to Jesus in faith, believing in the power of his sacrifice to save, “we may have eternal life in him. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Jesus, thank you that we can look to you in faith and be saved. Amen.

About the author — Kent Van Til

Kent Van Til was a missionary in Costa Rica. He taught theological ethics both there and in the USA. He is the author of four books. The most recent is a spiritual biography of his grandmother entitled, "A Name for Herself: A Dutch Immigrant's Story." Kent likes to fish, hunt, make music, and entertain his grandchildren.

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