Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lifted Up - John 3:14-21 (Part 1)

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,
even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;
that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life.
For God so loved the world
that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him
should not perish, but have eternal life.
God did not send the Son into the world
to condemn the world, but that the world
should be saved through Him.
He who believes in Him is not judged,
he who does not believe has been judged already,
because he has not believed in the name
of the only begotten Son of God.
And this is the judgment,
that the light has come into the world,
and men loved the darkness rather than the light;
for their deeds were evil.
For everyone who does evil hates the light,
and does not come to the light,
lest his deeds should be exposed.
But he who practices the truth comes to the light,
that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”
(vs 14-21)

How wise we would be to take these eight verses and hide them in our hearts. They contain the richest meat of the gospel and the most satisfying wine of God’s love. As I meditate on the truths contained here I am overwhelmed at the fact that these verses have served as the bridge upon which multitudes and myriads have crossed over from death to life. Here the love of the Father, the gift of the Son, the dark and blinding nature of sin, and the necessity of believing on Christ are plainly proclaimed. And it is through this very proclamation - “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life”- that millions throughout the ages, as many as the sands on the seashore and as many as the stars in the heavens, have embraced Christ as their Lord and Savior.

There is much to dwell upon here and I will probably spend several days feasting upon this grand banquet. May we pace ourselves, savoring every morsel rather than gorging ourselves and missing out on the pleasure and purpose of this grand meal!

In verse 14 we are pointed to the necessity of Christ being “lifted up” on the cross as a propitiation for our sins. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so MUST the Son of Man be lifted up.” Christ references the time when the bronze serpent was lifted up in the camp of the Israelites in order to save them from the plague of serpents (Num 29). Their sin had brought about a great trial and the only hope for a cure and for salvation was for them to look in faith upon the serpent fashioned of bronze as it was lifted up in the camp. Here is a picture of Christ and in John 3, Christ makes it perfectly clear that the bronze serpent is a shadow and type which He will fulfill.

Ryle writes: “The brazen serpent, lifted up in the camp of Israel, brought health and cure within reach of all who were bitten by the serpents. Christ crucified, in like manner, brought eternal life within reach of lost mankind. Christ has been lifted up on the cross, and man looking to Him by faith may be saved.”

He goes on to challenge us with these words: “The truth before us is the very foundation-stone of the Christian religion. Christ’s death is the Christian’s life. Christ’s cross is the Christian’s title to heaven. Christ “lifted up” and put to shame on Calvary is the ladder by which Christians “enter into the holiest,” and are at length landed in glory.

“It is true that we are sinners – but Christ has suffered for us! It is true that we deserve death – but Christ has died for us! It is true that we are guilty debtors – but Christ has paid our debts with His own blood! This is the real Gospel! This is the good news! On this let us lean while we live. To this let us cling when we die. Christ has been “lifted up” on the cross, and has thrown open the gates of heaven to all believers.”

Friends – Christ was lifted up for us! Look to Him. Look only to Him. Look always to Him. For whoever looks to Him, whoever believes on Him will in Him find eternal life.


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