And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up.
The Lord Jesus had a wonderful way of meeting with people at their point of need. He offered living water to the Samaritan woman at the well and promised that He would become in her a fountain of living water springing up unto everlasting life. To the hungry crowd He was the Bread of Life. To the lost He was the Good Shepherd. To the sick He was their Healer and to the disciples He was Christ, the Son of God.
But to Nicodemus He was an honoured Rabbi, a teacher from God, for he recognised that no one could perform the miracles that Jesus did unless God were with Him. But under cover of darkness this respected teacher of Israel came to learn from Jesus. Yet the truths that he was to hear, dumfounded him – provoking a series of questions. How can a man be born when he is old? How can God’s Spirit give birth to spirit? How can a righteous teacher such as I neither enter nor see the kingdom of God?
But as with the woman; the hungry; the hurting and lost – Jesus met his specific need. He used the book of Moses and the wilderness wanderings as a startling picture. As Moses raised the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up – so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish – but will have eternal life.
Oh, Nicodemus knew how a plague ravaged the camp of Israel, due to their rebellion. He knew how the great prophet of God lifted up a bronze serpent on a wooden pole.. so that anyone who was bitten by the snake would look on the bronze effigy, and live.
This learned teacher of Israel knew that Moses represented God’s Law.. the serpent stood for sin and death, and the bronze metal was illustrative of God’s judgement. Though he could not have understood the poignant significance of what was to happen on Calvary’s cross, in the days to come – Nicodemus must have recalled this conversation, when the sinless, Son of Man was cruelly lifted up on the cross, as the Law required – so that all who were bitten by the curse of sin could look – and live.
He could not have understood there and then, that the full weight of all humanity’s sin was to be poured out over Jesus. Nor could he have known that full fury of the wrath of God would rain down upon His own beloved Son, for all his guilt too. Christ met Nicodemus at his point of need, as He does with all who come to Him, for Nicodemus was one of a race of guilty sinners who were in need of a redeemer.
Christ patiently started to open the eyes of this blind leader of the blind, who himself must come to terms with the truth that the penalty of the Law for ALL – is death. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness – Jesus too must be nailed to the tree so that all who look to Him in faith, will be saved. But those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of Jesus.
We will never know when Nicodemus finally came to an understanding of what Christ was teaching him, when he came to Jesus by night. But he probably began to be aware that the justice of God demanded that one Man die – so that others might live.
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