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The Message of John (Lesson 10)
The Bronze Serpent | John 3:15
"Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life."
The story of the bronze serpent is found in Numbers 21.
The Israelites were traveling in the wilderness from Egypt to the Promised Land when many of them were bitten by poisonous snakes and died. In response to their cries for help, the Lord told Moses to fashion a bronze serpent and place it on a pole. Those who were bitten could look at the bronze serpent and be healed.
In John 3, Jesus draws a parallel between the bronze serpent and himself, stating that just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. This passage foreshadows Jesus' death on the cross and highlights the fact that just as the Israelites looked to the bronze serpent for physical salvation, we look to Jesus as our Savior for spiritual salvation from the venom of sin.
The bronze serpent symbolizes the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross for the salvation of his people and underscores the kindness of God's grace. The Israelites were bitten by the snakes as a result of their rebellion in the desert and did not deserve to be healed. Yet, the Lord had mercy on them, offering them healing as a gift.
Similarly, salvation is not earned through our own works but is received through faith in Jesus, who was sin-bit for us so that we can be forgiven and reconciled to God through his blood. There are no hoops to jump through or tasks to complete; all we have to do is look and believe.
What is the story of the bronze serpent in the book of Numbers?
How does Jesus apply that story to himself?
How does the bronze serpent serve as an example of God's grace?
In what ways does the story of the bronze serpent challenge assumptions about deserving or earning salvation?
How does the concept of looking and believing relate to receiving salvation?
Are we called to look upon Jesus just once or many times? Explain.
A Suggested Prayer
We confess that we have sinned and that we are in need of your salvation and thank you for sending Jesus to take on our sins, and to die on the cross in our place. Even as the Israelites looked to the bronze serpent on the pole, may we look to Jesus and his cross as our hope. We trust in you, and we give you all the glory and honor.
In Jesus' name we pray, Amen