14 And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,
15 so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.
John 3:14-15 (NLT)
If I do not insert the above verses, I am sure the religious people will jump in and accuse me of blasphemy. How can we call Jesus a snake? After all, snakes in the Bible were viewed negatively. Being called a snake is an insult, not compliment. Yet Jesus himself tells us to see him as a snake, particularly the bronze snake that Moses lifted on a pole in the wilderness. What is he up to? In this article, we shall attempt to understand his words and find out how we can benefit from it.
In the above verses, Jesus was referring to an event in the past. Let us look into them.
4 Then the people of Israel set out from Mount Hor, taking the road to the Red Sea to go around the land of Edom. But the people grew impatient with the long journey,
5 and they began to speak against God and Moses. “Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die here in the wilderness?” they complained. “There is nothing to eat here and nothing to drink. And we hate this horrible manna!”
6 So the Lord sent poisonous snakes among the people, and many were bitten and died.
7 Then the people came to Moses and cried out, “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take away the snakes.” So Moses prayed for the people.
8 Then the Lord told him, “Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to a pole. All who are bitten will live if they simply look at it!”
9 So Moses made a snake out of bronze and attached it to a pole. Then anyone who was bitten by a snake could look at the bronze snake and be healed!
Numbers 21:4-9 (NLT)
Here is the short version. Throughout the journey to the Promised Land, the Lord had been providing for his people. He gave them the necessity, riches and victories over their enemies. However the Israelites were still quite ungrateful. Instead of giving thanks to God, they were looking to things to complain about. Their sin had caused God to sent poisonous snakes out. Many people were bitten and died.
Those who were still alive begged Moses to pray for their healing. Moses did. The Lord told Moses to make a replica of a snake and attach it to a pole. Anyone who looked at it will live. Moses used bronze to make the replica. Thus the bronze snake.
What does that mean to us? Those Israelites faced a serious problem due to their sins. Their problem was in the form of poisonous snakes attacking them. God told Moses to make a replica of the snake and attached it to a pole. In other words, a representation of the problem was at a pole. Why pole? So that it can be lifted up high. Many people will be able to see it. Anyone who looked at it will live while those who looked elsewhere will die.
What has that got to do with Jesus? The pole represents the Cross. When Jesus was crucified at the Cross, he was lifted up for all to see. The Bible tells us the wages of sin is death. Since Jesus has no sin, he could not have died. The only way he can experience death is to take on all our sins with him when he was at the Cross. When Jesus was at the Cross, he was like the bronze snake that Moses lifted up in the wilderness. Jesus, at when he was at the Cross represented all our sins. In the wilderness, the Israelites who looked at the bronze snake were immediately healed from the effects of the snakes’ poison. Likewise today when we “look” at Jesus at the Cross we will be immediately healed from all the effects of our sins.
How do we benefit from this? Jesus is the solution for all our sins. Are you troubled by sins? Do you find your sins to be to powerful for you to overcome? Fear not. Jesus wants you to turn to him. Instead of looking at your sins and focus on them, Jesus wants you to look to him. Focus your attention on him. At the Cross, Jesus became your sins. When he was crucified, all our sins were crucified with him. Once we are fully aware of this truth, we can overcome all sins because we know that sin has no power over us. Sin has been crucified with Jesus at the Cross. To look at Jesus is to believe in him. The result of that is eternal life. When God says eternal life, it is not limited to our hearts pumping for eternity. It covers lives of riches, health and prosperity in every area forever.
This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.