“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.’”Numbers 21:8
Jesus’ words in John 3:16 might be the most famous words in all of Scripture: “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.” Today’s reading is the backstory to the two preceding verses: “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life” (John 3:14-15).
There in the wilderness, God’s judgment came against sinners in the terrifying form of snakes sent in to destroy. But God provided deliverance. A bronze snake was lifted up in their midst, and anyone who looked at it was saved. Jesus says in John 3, “That was about me.” This becomes clear in light of the cross.
The snakes sent in to destroy represented the consequences of our sin (Romans 3:23). But God’s Son came down from heaven into our midst to be lifted up in our place, bearing the full weight of sin’s consequences on His shoulders. Whoever looks to Him will be saved. Turn to Him today!
“We must turn our eyes to the brazen serpent, Christ crucified.”
(Martin Luther, 1535)