Just before Jesus delivers the most famous verse in the Bible, John 3:16, he references an Old Testament story about a bronze snake.
“And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.” (John 3:14-15 NLT)
The story is found in the book of Numbers chapter 21. It seems to me when I read the whole account of the Israelites wilderness travels that they are just like us… a representative sampling of all mankind. As the story goes, they, for the most part, don’t trust God. (And, when I say for the most part I mean, like three out of over a million! I write about that here!)
The Israelites don’t trust the very One who had proven himself with miracle after miracle, the One who protects them from the heat of the sun in the blazing hot wilderness by being their shade day after day, the One who is their light by night, the One who feeds them day after day with manna (a.k.a. elvish lembas bread) and water from the rock (there is a really cool video documenting the finding of the rock that was split)… and yet, they still didn’t trust him.
They were trying to get away from the very God who surrounded them every day. Because of their rebellion and sin, the devil has an in. Poisonous snakes come through their camp. Many are bitten, many become sick and are dying. Moses is told, “Make a bronze serpent and put it on a pole. Everyone who comes and looks intently at this bronze serpent will be healed.”
I’ve heard sermons about the bronze representing judgement and the serpent the curse, so here is an illustration of the curse being judged. Jesus says in effect, “I’m just like that! Come to me look intently at the cross. Consider what was accomplished there and you will be healed of your snakebite of sin.”
The following picture is for my mother-in-law who adores all the cuddly cute snakes of the world… even more than puppies if you can believe it (hehe!):
and I couldn’t pass up throwing in this photo of a puffy faced puppy who had a run in with a snake: (Reminds me of my dog, named “Salvation”, who died saving my life from a rattle snake I was face to face with a long time ago.)
So, Jesus has saved us. Let’s all take a big breathe and give a sigh of relief. <Ahhhh!>
It’s over. Done. Finished. Accomplished. Time to celebrate!
Jesus endured the cross to free you from all your sin! You are now free to walk away from those deadly snakes and stop playing in the snakepit. Snake (sin) hunters, you are free to live your life joyfully instead of chasing down every last snake in your own life or in others. We can now point people to the cure instead of fussing over each others festering snake bite wounds. Rejoice in the cure and turn your eyes upon Jesus!
Scripture from Hebrews 12 to meditate on:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. 4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” 7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. 12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.