John 3:14-15 Num. 21:4-9 THE NECESSITY OF LOOKING TO JESUS
In an earlier text Jesus informed Nicodemus that one must be
born again in order to enter heaven. Nicodemus inquired if a man
must could enter again into his mother's womb in order to be born
again. Jesus said that it was not necessary to re-enter mother's
womb because the new birth is not a physical birth; it is a
spiritual birth. Nicodemus then inquired how such a spiritual
birth is possible.
In our text last Sunday Jesus did not answer that question.
Rather He informed Nicodemus that what He said about the new
birth should be believed simply because the message is from God.
One should not have to understand what God has said before he
will believe what God has said.
However, in our text today, Jesus proceeds to answer the
question. Keep in mind that the question is, "How can these
things be?" or, in other words, "How can one be spiritually born
again so that he will go to heaven?"
I. The brazen serpent lifted up on a pole
V. 14, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the
wilderness...," In order to illustrate what He is talking about
Jesus refers to an event that took place while the Children of
the way. And the people spake against God, and against Moses,
Wherefore have ye brought us up out of
wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water;
and our soul loatheth this light bread."
land, but instead of being appreciative of Moses, their leader,
and thankful to God for His providential care, they griped and
complained against both Moses and God. They accused both Moses
and God of bringing them out into the wilderness in order to
starve them to death. God had miraculously provided them with
water in a desert area, but they were ungrateful. God had also
miraculously given them manna from heaven, but they were
By their complaints they sinned a grievous sin and God was
angry. He was angry and He punished them sorely for their sin.
Num. 21:6, "And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people,
and they bit the people; and
much people of
to punish the people of
fiery serpents among them to bite them. The term "fiery
serpents" was used for two reasons. First, the serpents had a
fiery look. They had brilliant red blotches all over them. The
red blotches look much like fire. Thus they were fiery in their
The second reason they are called "fiery" is because of their
fiery bite. Their poison caused a very painful burning
sensation. It was as though the person who has been bitten has
been set on fire.
God sent the fiery serpents into the camp of
numbers. People were bitten by the hundreds and thousands.
People were dying by the hundreds and thousands. This was no
ordinary punishment. This was a terrible ordeal. But keep in
mind that they brought this punishment it on themselves by their
Sin always brings a terrible punishment. When Adam ate the
forbidden fruit, his sin brought a terrible punishment. When we
sin our own sin brings terrible suffering to us in this life.
But worst of all, those who die without being born again, without
salvation, without being born again, will suffer most all. They
will spend eternity in the fires of hell. The burning pain from
the serpent's bite, was but a foretaste of what it would be like
to die and go to hell.
Num. 21:7, "Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We
have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against
thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us.
And Moses prayed for the people." The people, who had been so
angry at both Moses and God came to see the error of their ways
and they went to Moses and begged him to ask God to take the
Apparently Moses wasted no time in going to the Lord and
asking Him, if He would, to please take the serpents out of their
camp. But the Lord did not immediately grant that request.
Instead He provided a remedy for the situation. Num. 21:8, "And
the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it
upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is
bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live." God instructed
Moses to make another fiery serpent. This serpent was to be made
This serpent would have no poison. It would never bite
anyone. It would never cause pain. It would never cause death.
Instead, this serpent would be the means of their healing. It
would take away their pain. It would take away the danger of
death. Moses was to put the serpent of brass on a pole and set
it up in the middle of the camp so that it would be easy for
everybody in the camp to see. Then when anyone was bitten by a
serpent, he could look at the serpent on the pole and live. He
would not die.
Nobody would be forced to look. Everybody was told about the
serpent and was promised that if one would look, he would live.
That was the promise of God. The choice was up to the person who
was bitten. He could choose to look and live or he could choose
not to look and die.
Moses made the serpent of brass as God instructed and put it
on a pole in the middle of the camp. Num. 21:9, "And Moses made
a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass,
that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent
of brass, he lived." The fiery serpents were still in the camp
and people were still being bitten. But now there was a remedy
for the bite. Moses had made the serpent of brass and had put it
on a pole so that all could see.
When any person was bitten, and many were, he was faced with
a choice. He could look or he could say, "I don't believe all
that stuff." He could refuse to look. But God's record stands.
Everyone who did choose to look lived. Everyone who refused to
believe and refused to look at the serpent on the pole died very
quickly. Of course, once a person died, it was too late to look.
Pretty soon he would be buried.
II. Jesus to be lifted up on a pole
Jesus explained to Nicodemus what this means concerning the
new birth. (V. 14), "...even so must the Son of man be lifted
up." Just as many of the
fiery serpents, even so every man has been bitten by that old
Serpent called "the Devil." Each and every man, woman, boy and
girl has been bitten by the Serpent Satan and Satan has injected
the poison of sin into us all. The Bible says that we have all
sinned and come short of the glory of God. Adam sinned and
through him the sin nature has entered us all. Yet we not only
have the nature of sin within us, but because of that nature we
have all committed sin. We have all sinned repeatedly. We have
committed all manner of sin. We have sinned in our thoughts. We
have sinned in our speech. We have sinned in our hearts and we
have sinned in our conduct.
Brethren, the penalty of our sin is very severe! The end
result of our sin would be to spend eternity suffering the
penalty of our sin. We would feel a painful burning sensation,
but the pain would not be from a serpent's bite. The pain would
be from the very fires of hell and it would never end.
But Jesus said that even as Moses lifted up the serpent in
the wilderness and put it on a pole so that all could look and
live, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up. He was talking
about Himself. He must be placed on a pole. He must be nailed
to a pole and lifted up even as that serpent of brass was lifted
up by Moses.
In effect, what Jesus was telling Nicodemus was this: He who
had no sin would suffer the penalty of sin in order that those
who were guilty of sin could be set free from the penalty of sin.
He would die so that the guilty could live.
now get this point. Just as the guilty
could look to the serpent and live physically, even so, the
unworthy guilty sinner may look to Jesus and live have eternal
life. He can look to Jesus and be born again spiritually. He
can look to Jesus and be saved from his sin. He can look to
Jesus and be saved from the dangers of hell. He can look to
Jesus trusting Jesus to be his Savior and to take care of his
V. 15, "That whosoever believeth in him should not perish,
but have eternal life." That is God's promise. God has promised
that the guilty sinner can look to Jesus and have eternal life.
He can be saved from the terrible consequences of his sin. He be
born again! He can enter the
Nicodemus had asked, "How can these things be? How can a man
be born again without re-entering his mother's womb? How can a
man be born again spiritually without being born again
physically? How can a man be born again so that he will stay out
of hell and enter into heaven?
Jesus answered that question. As Moses lifted up the serpent
of brass in the wilderness and put it on a pole, even so the Son
of man, the God-man, the Christ of God, must be nailed to a pole,
and lifted up. He must be put on a pole to suffer so that the
guilty sinner can be spared from suffering. The One without sin
must suffer on the cross so that the one guilty of sin can enjoy
the glory of heaven. Whoever will look to Him by faith and will
live. Every person who looks to Him will be saved. Everyone who
looks to Him will be born again. No one who looks to Him will go
to hell. Everyone who looks to Him will enter the
and go to heaven.
Some of us have already trusted Jesus as our Savior. I have.
I trusted Him when I was sixteen years of age. Many of you have
already trusted Him as your Savior. Yet there may be someone
here this morning who has never called upon Him for salvation.
That someone may be you. You know that you have sinned. You
know that you have been bitten by the Serpent Satan and that you
have the poison of sin in your system. It is my responsibility
to inform you that unless you look to Jesus to be your Savior
that you can never make it to heaven. It is also my
responsibility to inform you that Jesus is well able to save your
soul and that what He is waiting for is for you to look to Him in
faith, trusting Him as the God-sent Savior. If you will look to
Him, He will save you. If you will look to Him, you will live.
me ask you a question. If you had been
had been bitten by one of those serpents, would you have looked
to that brazen serpent on the pole? What is even more important,
will you look to Jesus to save you from your sin? Will you do it