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

Israel were in the wilderness.  Num. 21:4-5, "And they journeyed

from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of

Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of

the way.  And the people spake against God, and against Moses,

Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the

wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water;

and our soul loatheth this light bread."

    The Children of Israel were on their way to the promised

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 Israel died." In

order to punish the people of Israel for their sin, God sent

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 Israel in large

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

serpents away.

    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

of brass.

    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 Children of Israel were bitten by 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.

    But now get this point.  Just as the guilty sinner in Israel

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

soul's need.

    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 kingdom of God!  He can go to


    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 kingdom of God

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.




    Let me ask you a question.  If you had been in Israel and you

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

right now?