The Day Jesus Became Like A Brass Snake

Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to John chapter 3. Last Sunday night we spoke on “We Must Be Born Again”. Jesus had a member of the Sanhedrim (the Ruling Elders of Israel) come to visit by night, a man by the name of Nicodemus. Nicodemus was, according to Jesus,

John 3:10 … a master of Israel …

The word Jesus used to describe Nicodemus was master, the Greek διδάσκαλος didaskalos, or a “Master Teacher”. When Jesus told Nicodemus that he had to be “born again”, Nicodemus was confused. But Jesus clarified it. He said,

John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Those who enter God’s Kingdom, whether on earth or in Heaven, must be spiritually born into it.

The Holy Spirit of God must work a work in your heart if you will be born into God’s Kingdom.

Only God Can Make A Child Of Adam A Son Of God

No one can make themselves “born again”. Those who are “born again” are born “not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13). New Birth is spiritual – it comes through the Holy Spirit of God. Jesus said:

John 6:63 It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit, and they are life.

Word Study: It is the Holy Spirit that quickeneth, the Greek ζωοποιέω zōopoiéō, {pronounced dzo-op-oy-eh’-o}, which means “to give life, to make your born again”. As Jesus spoke, He spoke through the power of God the Holy Spirit. As Jesus did the miraculous, He did this “by the finger of God” (Luke 11:20), “by the Spirit of God” (Matthew 12:28). Jesus is speaking Biblical truths through the power of God the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells us that It is the Spirit that gives spiritual life. The flesh cannot do this. There is nothing that fallen man can do to bring the “new birth” or “being born again” into his or her life. “It is God Who quickeneth (gives life to, causes you to be born again) the dead” (Romans 4:17). The Apostle said in another text:

Romans 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

It is faith in Christ that saves the lost. It is the power of the Holy Spirit – moving based on that faith – that the believer is “born again” or quickened. It is “the Holy Spirit that giveth life” (2 Corinthians 3:6). The Law cannot give life. Our works cannot give life. The Law of God – the sacrifices and the feasts of Israel, the shadows of clean and unclean – this Law is good, but cannot save. The Law only points out our need of salvation. The Bible says:

Galatians 3:21-26 if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. 22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

It is faith in Christ and His Word that brings salvation from death and damnation. Upon faith in Christ, the Spirit moves, and causes the believer to be born again. Only the born again go to Heaven!

God’s Son Is Giving A Divine Eye Witness Account

John 3:11-13 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? 13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

Please pay particular attention to the pronouns Jesus uses in this section. Jesus starts out speaking in first person singular, I say unto thee”. But then He switches to plural pronouns, saying We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen. Some believe that Jesus was speaking of Himself and John the Baptist, but I don’t think so. In verse 13 Jesus notes that He and He alone has both ascended up to heaven and has come down from heaven. Jesus is telling us that He alone is an eyewitness of that which He is saying. So who is the We Jesus is speaking of? He is speaking of the Godhead – Father, Son, and Spirit. Dr Thomas Constable notes:

Jesus here claimed to be the “Son of Man” (of Daniel 7:13-14) who had come “from heaven” to reveal God to humankind (see John 1:51).”

It is Jesus Who – as the Word of God – “was in the beginning with God, and was God {the Son}” (John 1:1). The source of Jesus knowledge is not what another Rabbi has said, but what is true, directly from the Throne of God. When Jesus uses the pronoun “We”, He is equating Himself to God. Jesus Christ is God, God in the flesh. Jesus is eternal, preexistent God, co-equal and co-eternal to both Father and Spirit.

Nicodemus thinks he is speaking to another Rabbi, another Didaskalos. Jesus is so much more.
Jesus is GOD, Manifest for us.

J. Oswald Sanders wrote, “If Jesus is not God, then there is no Christianity, and we who worship Him are nothing more than idolaters. Conversely, if He is God, those who say He was merely a good man, or even the best of men, are blasphemers. More serious still, if He is not God, then He is a blasphemer in the fullest sense of the word. If He is not God, He is not even good.”

Billy Graham said, “Jesus Christ is God in human flesh, and the story of His life, death, and resurrection is the only Good News the world will ever hear.”

Jesus is God become Man, Perfect Man, Sinless Man. God the Father says to God the Son:

Hebrews 1:8 … Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom.

Jesus Christ is God the Son. As He speaks to Nicodemus – and us – He is relaying the plan of Heaven to this fallen earth. But Nicodemus still doesn’t understand. So Jesus tells Nicodemus the true Bible Story of ..

The Day A Snake Saved Israel

Very few people like snakes. I like them dead. But Jesus now tells the story – a familiar story to a Bible Teacher like Nicodemus – of the day a snake saved Israel. Jesus told Nicodemus:

John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

To understand this story you have to go to the Book of Numbers. God had led Israel out of Egypt by a mighty hand. Israel walked through the Red Sea as if on dry land (Exodus 14:29), and God, in love with His people, was going to given them the land of Canaan. As Israel got to the borders of Canaan, they decided to send spies into the land. The spies returned, and the majority brought back a faithless report to the people. “There we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers” (Numbers 13:33).

Though saved, unbelieving Israel would not enter the blessed Promised Land. Unbelief and failure to obey God brings a loss of blessing.

God told that generation of Israel in Numbers 14:23, “Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice; 23 Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it”.

Israel like a backslidden child wandered aimlessly. Their wanderings are recorded in Numbers chapters 13-36.Rather than learn from their wandering, Israel continued to rebel against God’s leadership. The Bible says that

1 Samuel 15:23 Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.

The idea that a believer saved by grace can freely walk on God is ludicrous! Once saved, we become God’s possession (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), and God’s children (Galatians 3:26). God punishes His children. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” (Hebrews 12:6).

In Numbers 20 God led Israel to Kadesh, where Miriam (Moses’ sister) died. Moses mourned the death of his sister. But Israel continued in unbelief. They murmured against Moses because there was no water there. God told Moses to:

Numbers 20: 8 … Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.

This is a picture of the resurrected Christ. The Apostle Paul wrote, “{our fathers, Israel} drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4). The Rock that Moses was to speak to represented the risen Jesus, the One Who promised whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life”. (John 4:14). Moses was to SPEAK to the Rock that was Christ. Instead, Moses STRUCK the Rock. Though water came out (for God is gracious, and God is good), God told BOTH Moses and Aaron:

Numbers 20:12 … Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.

Disobedience and faithlessness, even in Moses and Aaron, causes a loss of blessing. At Mount Hor Aaron died, and Eleazar his son became High Priest. As we come to Numbers chapter 21, the Canaanites attacked Israel. The Bible says:

Numbers 21:2-3 Israel vowed a vow unto the Lord, and said, If thou wilt indeed deliver this people into my hand, then I will utterly destroy their cities. 3 And the Lord hearkened to the voice of Israel, and delivered up the Canaanites…

Israel should have been pleased, and should have been full of praise for the Lord. But once more, the way became hard. The Bible says:

Numbers 21:5 … 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 Wages Of Sin Is Death. Here Come The Serpents!

Our God is gracious and long suffering. But to turn away from honoring God, to mock Him and His leadership, is to play with fire. God heard the words of Israel. The Bible says:

Numbers 21:6 And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.

The Lord sent fiery serpents”. Why did God send “fiery serpents”? God does nothing by accident. God sent punishment and trials in many different ways.

  • When David numbered the army of Israel, God sent a pestilence that killed 70,000 people (2 Samuel 24).
  • When Miriam, Moses’ sister, mocked Moses’ wife, God caused leprosy to fall on her (Numbers 12:10).
  • God caused the earth to open up and swallow those who tried to overthrow Moses (Numbers 16:32)
  • God brought ten plagues on Egypt (Exodus 7-12), from turning the Nile to blood to the death of the firstborn.

God could have sent any punishment to Israel He wanted. Why send poisonous snakes?

The Bible tells us that:

Romans 5:12 by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned …

The one man that brought sin into the world was Adam. And Adam’s fall was prompted by the temptation of Satan in the guise of a snake. Satan had fallen from Heaven, leading a revolt against God. Satan is defined in

Revelation 12:9 … And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world

It was Satan in the form of a serpent who tempted Adam and Eve to sin. Adam was supposed to obey God and lead his family. Instead, he disobeyed God and obeyed that Old Serpent Satan. The Israel that God saved from Egypt was supposed to be following their Savior, and honoring Him with their lives. Instead of this, they were murmuring, complaining, and blaspheming God. They said, our soul loatheth this light bread, speaking disparagingly of the manna that God in grace gave them. The Bible tells us that:

Romans 6:23 … the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Unconfessed sin and rebellious living brings with it a just wage, and that wage is separation from God and death. Man in the Garden of Eden listened to the serpent, and brought sickness, sweat, suffering, and sadness into the world. What better way to focus Israel and the truth than to use serpents – poisonouns snakes – the wage for their disobedience. The Bible says,much people of Israel died. God told Israel, and us,

Deuteronomy 8:5-6 … as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee. 6 Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him.

Suffering woke Israel up. The Bible says:

Numbers 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.

God sent the serpents to get Israel’s attention. He could have sent anything as a plague, but sent the serpents. Moses prayed, “Lord, we repent! Take away the serpents”. God could have taken away the serpent with just a wish.

The Brass Serpent Represents Jesus Christ

Numbers 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.

Moses was not to take a dead serpent and put it on a pole. This would do nothing. Moses was to make a serpent of brass, and set it on a pole. Those who were bitten by the poisonous snakes (symbolic of sin) were to looketh upon the brass serpent and they would live. There was no power in the brass serpent. The power was in their faith in God. God told them to “look, and live”, and if they did that, they were healed.

As Jesus speaks to Nicodemus, He uses this brass serpent to describe what He will do on the Cross of Calvary. Jesus said:

John 3:14-15 … And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

How are we saved from Satan, that Old Serpent, and the snake of sin that he brings to the world? We look upon Jesus and believe. We look at Jesus, Who died for our sins. Moses made a serpent of brass and put it on a pole. The serpent of brass looked like but really wasn’t a serpent. But to look on it was to live. When Jesus went to the Cross, He looked just like any man would look. Jesus didn’t look special. Yet Jesus was like that brass serpent. The Bible says that Jesus Christ was “in the beginning with God, and was God” (John 1:1-3). The Bible says that Jesus Christ came into this world through a virgin birth, a miraculous birth. The angel told the virgin Mary that:

Luke 1:35 … The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

The Apostle Matthew wrote,

Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Jesus Christ walked this earth as God with us. He was perfect in every way. Jesus is the “Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus Christ was,

Hebrews 4:15 in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Jesus had to be sinless in order to make payment for our sins. Jesus, like the brass serpent, was nailed to a tree.

Hebrews 9:28 Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many …

The Lord Jesus, like the brass serpent of Moses, would be “lifted up” on the Cross of Calvary. As the brass was made to look like a serpent, Jesus Christ – eternal God in human form – was made to look like us who are sinners. He was made a curse so that we could be blessed.

Galatians 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

Jesus was made a curse for us when He was lifted up on Calvary on that cruel cross. The Bible says:

2 Corinthians 5:21 {God the Father} hath made {Jesus} to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Israel was saved by looking at the brass serpent, faithfully doing as God said so as to be blessed. We today are saved by looking at Jesus Christ on Calvary. We look to Jesus Christ for salvation, believing that He and He alone is God’s method to save. There is no possible salvation to anyone outside of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

John 3:14 …. even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

Jesus knew that He had to die for our sins. He would say later in His ministry:

John 12:32-33 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. 33 This he said, signifying what death he should die.

Salvation comes when we recognize that we have been “bitten” by sin, and that we need the Savior. When we look up at our Brass Serpent, Jesus Christ the Lord, obediently looking at Him in faith, we are saved. We are saved by looking at Jesus on the Cross, by believing that He died for our sins.

It is Grace that saves, not our works. We look up to be saved. Just as Israel was poisoned by their sin, apart from Christ we are poisoned creatures. Sin poisons us. Self poisons us. We have no life within. We violate God’s Law without guilt, for we are bit by the snake of sin. Baptismal water will not save us. Water did not save Israel that day they were punished by God. What saved Israel is the same thing that saves us. We must have faith in our God. We must receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We have God’s promise:

John 3:15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

Jesus Christ did not come to this earth to give us more of earth’s riches, He came to this earth to give us eternal life. I pray that you know Him as both Lord and Savior! May God through His Spirit and His Word move your hearts to love Jesus this very day. Amen and amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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