John 3:14-18 “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in himshould not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
Romans 5:8 “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Jesus is having a late night meeting with “a ruler of the Jews.” While Nicodemus is totally bewildered about a multitude of things, Jesus sets forth to give light on the most important; “Ye must be born again” (vs.3). Of all the issues of life, the most important is man being in right relationship with God, and this is only by means of the new birth; “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (vs.5). In order to give enlightenment to Nicodemus’ confusion (see vs.4), Jesus contrasts a past event out of Numbers 21, to God’s means of salvation in the present; both being the result of man’s sin. In contrasting the two, Jesus makes this statement; “even so must.” Jesus is telling us that it’s a necessity that certain events of the past be duplicated in the present if the same outcome is to be achieved!
There is the necessity of lifting; as Moses lifted up the serpent . . . even so must the Son of man be lifted up.” In the wilderness, the people developed a rebellious spirit toward God and His servant Moses. The repercussion for their sin, was the deadly venomous bite of the serpent; “and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:15). Multitudes of people were dying and they cried out to Moses, who interceded to God in their behalf. God’s answer was “Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole” (Numbers 21:8). Just like the serpent had to be “lifted up”, so Jesus Christ had to die upon the cross; “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32). Speaking to the saint at Philippi, Paul said, “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8).
There is the necessity of looking, “when he looketh upon it, shall live” (Numbers 21:8). It was not just enough that the cure be provided; the cure must be procured by looking! In spite of the fact that “serpent of brass . . . put it upon a pole” stood in the midst of the camp, seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day, yet multitudes died from the venomous bite because they failed to look. The act of looking revealed the attitude of the heart; it was an expressing of faith in the spoken Word of God; “And the LORD said unto Moses” (Numbers 21:8). It is not enough that Jesus has been lifted up, though it’s a necessity! The sinner must look to Christ as the only means of salvation; “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Paul said, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). God said, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else” (Isaiah 45:22).
Jesus is clear about the matter; if Nicodemus is to be in right relationship with God, which can only be accomplished by means of being “born again”; there must be the Saviour’s lifting and the sinner’s looking; it’s a necessity! Jesus said it thus, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son (the lifting), that whosoever believeth in him (the looking) should not perish, but have everlasting life ( the living)” (John 3:16).