“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up.”
As Jesus and Nicodemus talk together, Jesus speaks of a time when the Jewish people were in the desert making their way to the land God had promised them. They bitterly complained about their situation and, at one campsite, poisonous snakes bit many of them, and many people died. When they cried out for help, God told Moses to make a bronze snake and lift it up high on a pole for everyone to see. All the people had to do was look at the bronze snake and they would be healed. (See Numbers 21:4-9.)
“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,” Jesus said. As we can guess, Jesus was referring to his death on a cross. He had come from heaven, and that made him extraordinary. But in coming to earth to give us new life, he had to die. “In him was life” (John 1:4), but soon he would lay down his life to free us from the curse of sin and death (John 10:14-18, 27-28).
He had to die in order to save us. There was no other option, for death had us in its grip; death was our greatest enemy. Jesus had to defeat death in order to free us from it. And to do that, Jesus had to enter into death, in our place—and break out of it alive.
Like the children of Israel in the wilderness, we must look to him and be saved!
Will you do that?
Gracious Savior, we know what you had to do. Help us to do what we must—that is, look to you and believe in you—to be freed by you. Amen.
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