Have you put your faith in the one who has proven that he is faithful over and over? Jesus had to be lifted up on the cross in order to create the opportunity for our eternal life decision. And we have the choice to look to him in faith and embrace eternal life…
4 They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; 5 they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”
6 Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. 7 The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.
8 The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.
14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
When Jesus is speaking to the Jewish leader Nicodemus, in John 3, he refers back to this story from Numbers 21. They both know the story well. They have both grown up in the synagogue and they have been blessed with the oral tradition of sharing these stories from generation to generation to make God’s name great among his people. They have a common language.
The bronze snake was an object of faith which God provided for the people: if they looked up to the snake, their snake bites would not kill them.
This was a lesson in having faith. Mixed in, of course, was a lesson to stop complaining about their circumstances. Israel was in this situation because they were grumblers. They lacked the faith in God that he had earned (as if God has to earn our faith) by being soooooo faithful to them year after year since God heard their cries back at the beginning of the Exodus story. God has proven himself over and over and the people responded with a lack of faith. And we’re just like them…
The only explanation for that response is a navel-gazing self-centredness which focuses on our feelings and circumstances and not on the one who has proven to be the master of our circumstances and who is able to calm wind and waves with his own voice.
Jesus predicted his own death in his discussion on this with Nicodemus. The Son of Man must be lifted up. Jesus had to be lifted up on the cross in order to create the opportunity for our eternal life decision. We have the choice to look up to him in faith as he sacrifices for us or ignore him and live with our sin and the effects of sin, which are eternal death.
That’s Jesus’ offer. And he uses this story from Numbers as his jump-off point to clearly make the case to Nicodemus. Which brings me back to you and me… Have you look up to Jesus in his sacrifice for you? Have you put your faith in the one who has proven that he is faithful over and over? Eternal life is offered for you. Accept Jesus by faith today.