Lent 4b March 18, 2012
John 3:14-21 Snake on a Pole
v "Pick up your cross and follow me"
§ Sometimes the very things we are asked to do by God
¨ seem like follishness to the "world"
¨ like crawling under a table...
The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. (1 Cor1:18)
v The cross is foolish.
§ It was the most humiliating and excruciating form of capital punishment.
§ It was not only to punish the offend-ant
¨ but also to strike fear in the onlooker.
§ The cross is foolish. it's weird. it doesn't make sense.
v Our text today is from John 3.
§ When I say: John 3:16 - what do you say?
¨ Can you quote vs 17?
¨ And, what comes before it?
They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”
Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.
The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived. (Numbers 21:8, 9 TNIV)
v First time I read this passage... When I finished - all I could say was "WEIRD"
Ø People grumbling
Ø God sends snakes.
Ø The snakes bite people. Some people die
Ø People pray that they be taken away
Ø God tells Moses to Make A Snake
§ WAIT! What?
¨ Make an image?
§ Did he really just say that?
¨ Difference here from the "Golden Calf" = God told him to do it.
· it wasn't on our own basis... but God's.
Here we find 3 things:
1. Snakes - a reference to the GARDEN
2. God doesn't remove the snakes.
3. God does PROVIDE salvation = life.
1. A REFERENCE to the GARDEN
· The image of the snake - draws our attention to the serpent in the garden.
· The serpent in the garden, was cleaver - and deceitful - and was "killing" the people.
· The serpent told Eve : “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. (Genesis 3:4 TNIV)
2. GOD DOESN'T REMOVE THE SNAKES
Ø The Israelites were discouraged
Ø The Israelites were grumbling
§ about food
§ about being out in the "wilderness"
§ about being bitten by snakes.
Ø They prayed that God would take away the snakes.
§ They wanted their discomfort changed.
§ They thought the only way to be saved is for them to go away.
Ø In our own lives:
§ We often pray that God would remove the pain, discomfort, death...
§ We often pray that our lives would be easier.
3. GOD PROVIDES SALVATION
God provides... LIFE
Ø He doesn't remove the snakes... the potential for being bitten.
§ but he provides a way to live.
§ he provides Life.
§ We find in this Old Testament text:
¨ In the midst of the pain, God provides life.
In our Gospel Text
Jesus says: " as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life. (John 3:14, 15 NLT)
v While our desire may be the removal of the aches and pains, and the fear of death....
Ø God provides LIFE.
§ Everyone who believes in Christ will have eternal life!
The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. (1 Cor 1:18)
v The story of Moses - doesn't make sense.
§ Lots of Old Testament stories don't...
v But, In God - all things are new.
Ø While the message of the cross is foolishness to this world - IT IS the power of God - to us who:
a) look up b) turn from our selfishness
c) pick-up our cross d) and follow HIM.
Jesus doesn't put a lot of requirements upon us...
simply look up to the cross.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 TNIV)
v This passage from John 3:14&15, has so many implications for who we are.
§ In the midst of our pain - God is there.
§ When we want life to be different - God provides
§ What we want to happen, may not happen.
Ø But what we receive will be better.
Ø If we believe - we will have eternal life.
This passage speaks to the power of the RESURECTION.
The historical story in the OT
The transformational one in Christ JESUS.
While God doesn't remove the snakes.
God DOES PROVIDE salvation = he provides LIFE.
Just as Moses lifted up the snake…so the Son of Man…
As you go: Lift your eyes. Look to God above, and believe.
Go and Love.