“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.” (John 3:14-15)
The viper struck you before you even saw it. You immediately felt the searing pain of its venom. It flows like fire through your veins toward your heart. You know you only have minutes to live. You know very well how quickly and painfully the venom dispatches its victims. You’ve already witnessed its excruciating effects on some your friends and family.
Suddenly, someone bursts through your door. “We’ve found a cure,” he shouts. He opens the curtains. “Just look out your window,” he exclaims. “There’s a guy holding the bronzed likeness of one of those snakes on a stick. Just look at that snake on the stick and you’ll be cured!”
Would you look?
The truth is, you actually have been bitten. We all have. The serpent that bit us is the devil. The venom coursing it’s way to our hearts is sin. We were bitten the moment Adam bit the forbidden fruit (Gn. 2:17; 3:1-24; Rm. 5:12-14).
However, our plight is a little different than those Israelites bitten by snakes in the wilderness (Num. 21:14-9). The difference is this. They knew the moment they were bitten and they knew death would soon follow. We are generally unaware we have a problem.
This is why Jesus points the problem out to us in His conversation with Nicodemus recorded in John chapter three. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but to save it . . . whoever does not believe stands condemned already . . .” (Jn. 3:17-18).
Did you catch that?
The reason Jesus didn’t come to condemn us is that we were condemned already. The snake had already bitten us. We were about to die. There was no cure. There was no hope.
But, there was love. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16).
Jesus is our “snake on a stick.” He was lifted up on a cross to die for our sins. He didn’t have any sin of His own (2Cor. 5:21a). But He became our sins on the cross and died in our place for those sins (2Cor. 5:21b). When we “look” to Him in faith, believing that His death is sufficient to cure our sin and death problem, then He becomes our righteousness, and, therefore, our cure (2Cor. 5:21c). And, as Jesus was raised from the dead to eternal life, we, too, will be raised to eternal life (Jn. 3:15; Rm. 6:4).
Just one serpent’s bite will kill you. You were born already bitten. But, there is a cure. Jesus Christ has been lifted up. One look towards Him will save you.
Will you look?
© Paul R Downing