“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”
People don’t tend to have very many good snake stories. If the story is any good, it’s probably only because the snake itself was horrifying. Or maybe it’s a good story because someone was victorious over the terrifying—and hopefully short-lived—tyranny that the aforementioned snake had over their land or their house.
Since almost the very beginning, we have had reason to be wary over the rule of the serpent.
Victory and Venom
Genesis 3 seems to have set that precedent. This narrative recounts the serpent, the temptation, and the fall of all mankind. But there is a neat story tucked away in Numbers 21 about the Israelites’ victory over their enemies, though it’s shortly followed by their unfortunate, ungrateful demise.
The people’s complaints about the Lord’s provision over their lives is then followed by scores of poisonous snake bites. We then witness the merciful means by which God heals all who would look upon the image of a bronze snake, which Moses lifted up for their lives to continue, that they would find miraculous healing by faith in their powerful God.
Lifted Up for Life Everlasting
Christ alludes to this account in the deep darkness of night. Here, Jesus meets with Nicodemus, the Pharisee bringing his curiosity straight to the Son. It seems like an out of place story to tell just before the famous verse that is John 3:16. But Jesus knew what He was doing here.
Just as God, by means of a bronze snake, made a way for the Israelites to find life and healing, so does the Father make a way through the Son, lifted up for life everlasting in His name. It’s through this understanding of His sacrificial nature, despite what the people truly deserve, that the good news of the gospel becomes clear.
A Better Story
Jesus is the better Moses, the Savior having done more than simply heal us from the venom of a deadly snake. He heals us from the eternal death and destruction we deserved through His once-and-for-all, victorious sacrifice.
This has got to be better than any snake story you’ve ever heard.
Take a moment to reflect on what it means for Christ to have purchased life everlasting on your behalf. Thank Him for the work that He did for you to be healed and made whole from the death you deserved. Consider those in your sphere of influence who are not yet walking in the light of this truth. Ask God for an opportunity to share of the hope that you have in His name.