“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up” – Jesus (Jn. 3:14)
What in the world is Jesus talking about?
In Numbers 21, we find God’s chosen people in their typical cycle of sinning and then being disciplined by God. This cycle so characterized Israels history that, if it wasn’t so sad, it’d almost be comical. This time they were complaining about being released from their Egyptian captivity (of all things), and the fact that they didn’t have anything to eat or drink, and that they didn’t like the heavenly manna that God was continuing to provide daily. I know that’s hard to relate to, ’cause we don’t really struggle with complaining today…hmmm. So anyway, God at this point decides to get creative and sends poisonous snakes among the Israelite people. Numbers tells us that many people were bitten and died as a result. Pretty serious stuff. Well, the people of course immediately recognized and admitted their sin before God. So God, in His grace, made a way for the people to individually recognize their sin, repent and be healed. God told Moses to make a bronze replica of the poisonous snake and put it up on a pole. All that these hopeless people had to do was look at the snake on the pole, and they would be healed.
In John 3, we find Jesus, in the dark of night, having a deep theological discussion with Nicodemus (a Pharisee, who was really seeking some answers). In the process of gently chiding Nicodemus, for not making much of an effort to understand spiritual insights, Jesus explains his purpose and mission on earth in terms that might resonate a bit more clearly with Nicodemus (who would have claimed to have been knowledgeable in all things “Moses”). Jesus says, “No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven. 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.” Wow! Jesus was claiming to have the power to save people from death in the same way that the people bitten by poisonous snakes were saved. But he was saying so much more than that. Jesus speaks of something infinitely more important…eternal life.
What if you had a pole with a bronze snake on it, and you knew without a doubt that if people would look at it they would be saved from death? Man, I’d take that pole with me everywhere! It’d be leaning up against the wall next to my table at Starbucks. I’d strap it on the back of my motorcycle and take it with me everywhere. It might feel a bit strange at first, but the weird stares and questions from people would only encourage me to explain it’s meaning all the more.
Lifting up Christ
If you’re a believer and follower of Christ, you are, in essence, walking around with a pole that has a bronze snake on it (potentially anyway). You’re filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. You have the ability to lift up Christ before hopeless people. You have the ability to draw people’s attention to Christ by how you live, what you say, and how you respond to hopelessness.
What’s your plan?
How do you plan to bring hope to a person with none? Today, or this week? Do you know anyone who has lost hope? That might be the first step. If your life is so insulated that you never come into meaningful contact with hopeless people, you’re completely missing God’s purpose and mission for your life. Don’t take my word for it. Just read the gospel of Matthew. You’re going to have to make some pro-active decisions if you plan to have opportunities to invest in those who are without hope.
Let us work together to educate and uplift…please share with me some of the ways that you purposefully lift up Christ before hopeless people.