Jesus: The Serpent in the Wilderness

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up. John 3:14

The Serpent in the Wilderness was a sign of the people’s sin. It was a brass sculpture of a snake that was placed on a pole so all could see. Israel rebelled by speaking against God and Moses. The people were complaining, “There is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread” (Numbers 21:5). Of all their sin, perhaps ingratitude was the worst, for the Lord had given them manna–Bread from Heaven–and Israel called it “worthless bread.” “So the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died” (Numbers 21:6). It was after the serpents began killing the people that they repented for their sin. God instructed Moses to make a brass serpent and put it on a pole. “Everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live” (Numbers 21:8), He declared. The snake was a sign of their sin, and looking at the serpent was an outward evidence of repentance. When Jesus was lifted up on the cross, Jesus became our sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). Just as Israel was saved from physical death when they looked upon the sign of their sin, so our looking upon Jesus is our looking on the sign of our sin.

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