For God So Loved The World
9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”
10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? 11 Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven,that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so, must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (John 3:9-21, NKJV)
3:9-13 Not Understanding, Not Believing
Nicodemus still doesn’t accept it. He is refusing to understand; he is refusing to believe. Notice that up until this point; Jesus has patiently answered his questions, yet the conversation turns almost confrontational now. Why is that? Because the Lord can work when there is no belief, but not when there is unbelief. And there is a difference between the two.
If today you’re having trouble believing what the Bible says, ask yourself, “Am I just not understanding what it says, or am I just refusing to accept what it says?” If you’re not understanding, then your difficulty is no belief, and the Lord can work on your heart. But if you’re refusing to accept it, your difficulty is unbelief, and until you’re willing, God can’t speak to you.
3:14-16 The Serpent In The Wilderness
Some of the greatest words in the entire Bible are found in these three verses. Jesus says:
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, (John 3:14)
Nicodemus knew exactly what Jesus was talking about, though you may not. Detailed in the Old Testament book of Numbers is a strange story:
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 our soul loathes this worthless bread.” So the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, and many of the people of Israel died.
Therefore 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 take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten when he looks at it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was if a serpent had bitten anyone when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived. (Numbers 21:5-9)
Amazing, isn’t it? All they had to do was turn their heads to look at this thing, and they would be healed! Bronze in the Bible is a type of judgment. The serpent in the Bible is a representation of sin. The standard was a wooden pole with a crosspiece to hold up the flag of an army or tribe. So here we have a picture of sin judged on a cross. If anyone would merely look at it to be healed from the effects of this judgment, they will live! This is exactly what Jesus did so that all who looked to Him to be saved would be saved!
The Only Provision
Now you may read the story of the serpents in the book of Numbers and ask, “Why did God only make one way to be cured? Why was there only one bronze serpent on a standard? Why didn’t God just cure everyone at once?”
The answer to all those questions is, “God did something for them that they didn’t deserve, and you’re dogging Him for the way He did it? You should be thankful that He provided a way of escape at all!
We are trapped in a life of sin; and God loves us so much, that He has sent a helicopter to rescue you. Are you seriously going to reject it because you’re not comfortable with there only being one way of escape?
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
If you believe in Jesus Christ, you will be rescued. This is the only form of rescue that God, in His perfect judgment has provided. For God so loved the world.
Jesus did not come to judge you; He came to save you from the judgment that you’ve already brought upon yourself. How have you brought judgment upon yourself? Because your deeds are evil. They have fallen short of the perfection and righteousness of God. Jesus isn’t condemning you for that; He’s trying to save you from it.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
Won’t you accept the gift of eternal life that Jesus Christ offers you?