God so loved the world

The Miracles of Jesus

March 14, 2021

Fourth Sunday in Lent

John 3:14-21

I’ve never been a lover of snakes. On the other hand, my grandson Keegan likes snakes and is working towards breeding them to sell.

Whenever I think of snakes, I think of the first Indiana Jones movie. In “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” Jones first came into contact with a boa in his friends’ plane. “I Hate Snakes,” Indiana Jones said. Then he literally fell into an underground cavern with thousands of them. Of course, when he did fall in the cavern, he did locate the Ark of the Covenant. ūüėä

In today’s devotion, we encounter a very familiar passage, John 3:16. What we seem to miss is the two verses before that.

Let’s take a moment and read the passages from John 3, as Jesus speaks with Nicodemus.

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†“And¬†as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man¬†be lifted up,¬†that whoever believes¬†in him¬†may have eternal life.

 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

The serpent Jesus refers to is a direct reference to Numbers 21:5-9:

“And the people¬†spoke against God and against Moses,¬†“Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and¬†we loathe this worthless food.”¬†Then the¬†Lord¬†sent fiery serpents among the people, and¬†they bit the people so that many people of Israel died. And the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the¬†Lord¬†and against you.¬†Pray to the¬†Lord that he takes away the serpents from us.” So, Moses prayed for the people.¬†And the¬†Lord¬†said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.”¬†So,¬†Moses made a bronze¬†serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.”

  • In the book of Numbers, it says that the people spoke against God and Moses. One would think that this was not grumbling once in a while. The people became quite outspoken, and their faith in God and His prophet Moses became weak.
  • The rest of the story is pretty straightforward. God got mad, sent snakes into the camp, and a lot of Israelites died.
  • Suddenly they realized they had messed up. The Israelites knew they needed God’s help and Moses’ leadership.
    • How often the same thing happens in our own lives. We get impatient waiting for God to answer our prayers, so we complain, grumble and sometimes even turn away from God.
    • But one cool thing about God; when we ask for His help, when we ask for forgiveness, He acknowledges us and gives it to us.
  • So, God instructs Moses to set a bronze serpent on a pole. If anyone got bit by a snake, all they had to do is look at the bronze serpent and live.

Let’s look at Jesus’ analogy to the bronze serpent again.

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”

Think about what Jesus is saying here.

  • The snake was lifted up on a pole
  • Jesus was lifted up on a cross
  • Everyone who looked at the snake had faith that it would heal them was healed.
    • The keyword is faith. The snake didn’t heal the people; God’s grace and the people’s faith healed them.
  • Everyone who looks at Jesus in faith is saved.
    • In this case, we are saved from our sins
    • Because of our faith and what Jesus did for us, we are saved from eternal death and now know we will enjoy life everlasting.

Yes, God so loved the world that He sent His only Son. And remember, God sent Jesus for one reason, to save us. Sure, he taught us, healed the sick, raised the dead, and showed love and empathy to all. But, ultimately, Jesus came to save. Not just you and me, but through faith in Jesus, everyone can be saved.

Dear Jesus. We know that you came to earth for one reason, to save us. Thank you for your sacrificial love, which, combined with our faith, has freed us from eternal damnation and opened the gate of eternity for us. Amen.

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