for-god-so-loved-the-world

John 3:16. The most famous scripture in the New Testament, maybe the entire bible. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. God loved the world, the whole world. He so loved the world that he gave his only unique Son, so that whoever should believe in him should not perish but have the everlasting, eternal life. It’s so familiar, so ingrained, so commonplace, that it’s in danger of becoming an empty cliche and part of a simple, easy “salvation” equation. But it leads right into John 3:17…For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. This is not simply part an equation for getting to heaven when we die. Jesus did not come to condemn “the world”, but so that “the world” might be saved through Him. He came to save the world, our world, the world we live in, the world he created and called good.
Before we get to John 3:16-17, we have to go through the the strange metaphor Jesus makes in John 3:14-15 – And 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.

a-plan-for-peace
We know that Gods intention is to save the world, not condemn the world. We know God intends to save the world through his unique son Jesus Christ. We know that at the center of God saving the world through Jesus there is the cross upon which Jesus was crucified. But the question here is…HOW does the cross save the world?? Jesus gave us some of his own thoughts in the matter in the metaphor above he shared with fellow Rabbi Nicodemus.

bronze-snake
Moses lifting up the serpent in the wilderness is a story from Numbers chapter 21. Jesus uses this story in a comparison to his own upcoming crucifixion. So we need to take a look. WHY would Jesus make this comparison??

manna
Then the people of Israel set out from Mount Hor, taking the road to the Red Sea to go around the land of Edom. But the people grew impatient with the long journey, and they began to speak against God and Moses. “Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die here in the wilderness?” they complained. “There is nothing to eat here and nothing to drink. And we hate this horrible manna!” Let’s just say this – this is the story of sinners sinning. They are marching around the wilderness, trying to get to the promised land. But they get out into that wilderness, and find that life is hard. They begin to complain and grumble against Moses and God, basically accusing God of not being good. They want to go back to their old life, even though their old life was miserable. And we hate this horrible manna! They even complain about the bread of heaven sent by God to sustain them in their journey. Can you just hear them grumbling and complaining?? As David the psalmist would later describe it, “They make their tongue sharp as a serpent’s, and under their lips is the venom of asps.” Psalms‬ ‭140:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬.

sharp-as-a-serpents
So what happens next? The snakes came! So the LORD sent poisonous snakes among the people, and many were bitten and died. Then the people came to Moses and cried out, “We have sinned by speaking against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take away the snakes.” Moses, can you help us please??!! Amen and Hallelujah to that. I don’t like the thought of being attacked by poisonous snakes!
So Moses prayed for the people. Then the LORD told him, “Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to a pole. All who are bitten will live if they simply look at it!” So Moses made a snake out of bronze and attached it to a pole. Then anyone who was bitten by a snake could look at the bronze snake and be healed! Is this not a strange story??

ama_logo
The Israelites are complaining against God and his provision of the bread of heaven. You could say their sin was in their mouths, could you not?? The poisonous snakes coming and biting them was representative of who they had become. The poisonous snakes seem to represent their own sin. So God commanded for a replica of their sin be made, and when that replica was held up high they could see their own sin, and simply by looking at it they could be healed. And notice, it does not say pardoned or forgiven. Surely they were forgiven their sin the midst of the healing, but if you go to someone dying from a snakebite and tell them their sins are forgiven, that might be well and good but what they really need is physical healing. They were sinners who were sick because of their sin. And as Jesus told us himself – “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins —he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.”” Mark‬ ‭2:9-11‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Jesus often describes himself in terms of healing, but almost never as a lawyer. When asked why he spent so much time with sinners, did Jesus respond “It’s the guilty who need a pardon?” No. He said “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭9:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬. The sick need a doctor, and this was much more how Jesus described himself. As Western Christians, we see our primary problem as being guilty before God and in need of a pardon. There is truth here, but we at least as much need healing as forgiveness. We’ve lost sight of how Jesus spoke about sin. We are not just guilty, we are sick. Salvation is not something that simply happens to our status, it’s something that happens to us. We have been bit and poisoned by our own sin. It’s not enough just to be pardoned, we need to be healed. As we all know from personal experience, we can be forgiven, yet still sick with our sin.

son-of-man-lifted-up
The serpent on a pole is still the symbol of the medical profession. A serpent lifted on a pole, and all who look on it are healed. And 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. As we gaze upon Jesus, as we see our sin when we look at him upon the cross, we can then be healed of our sin. Because our whole system is broken. If our system does that to God when he comes and walks among us, we need to see that and turn from it. “He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed.” ‭1 Peter‬ ‭2:24‬ ‭NLT‬‬. In his conversation with Nicodemus, this is the story Jesus tells. The serpent on a pole, those who look at it are healed. The serpent on the pole is like the a man lifted upon a cross. Jesus says that as those who looked on the serpent will be healed, those who look upon the son of man, upon Himself, upon the cross will be healed.
The sinners in the wilderness only had to look at the snake raise up to be healed. Jesus says if we will only look to him in faith, with belief, upon the cross, we will be healed.

our-sin
When we look at Jesus upon the cross, what do we see?

 

“And 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. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

‭‭John‬ ‭3:14-17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/jhn.3.14-17.esv
“Then the people of Israel set out from Mount Hor, taking the road to the Red Sea to go around the land of Edom. But the people grew impatient with the long journey, and they began to speak against God and Moses. “Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die here in the wilderness?” they complained. “There is nothing to eat here and nothing to drink. And we hate this horrible manna!” So the LORD sent poisonous snakes among the people, and many were bitten and died. Then the people came to Moses and cried out, “We have sinned by speaking against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take away the snakes.” So Moses prayed for the people. Then the LORD told him, “Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to a pole. All who are bitten will live if they simply look at it!” So Moses made a snake out of bronze and attached it to a pole. Then anyone who was bitten by a snake could look at the bronze snake and be healed!”

‭‭Numbers‬ ‭21:4-9‬ ‭NLT‬‬

http://bible.com/116/num.21.4-9.nlt

John Lewis

Advertisements

13 thoughts on “Seeing Our Sin

    1. I mean that Jesus came not just to offer forgiveness, but healing. And for Jesus, healing was at least as central to his ministry as forgiveness. And until I came to Christ and actually got into his word and got to know him, I never knew that, never heard that. All I ever heard was I need to “get saved” so I can go to heaven when I die. Which is all well and good, I’m all for it. But we also need healing from our sin. I work in a recovery ministry in my church, and people come in, really work their program, accept Christ’s forgiveness, “get saved”, now they are forgiven their sins and going to heaven when they die. Which is awesome, great, fantastic. Yet they are still often sick with their sin, and relapse into their addictions. They are still living in hell on earth.

      Or the marriage rocked by infidelity. There can be true forgiveness of that sin between spouses, but without the healing that can only come through Jesus Christ, there’s still a very high likelihood that that marriage will still end in divorce. Not because there was not forgiveness, but because there was never healing of the broken relationship.

      I mean that from the cross he offers us forgiveness and healing. There is no hope for the world outside of Jesus Christ. There is no plan B. There is no saving of the world. Jesus is the one who compares his crucifixion to the serpent on the pole, so that all who look upon our sin that put him up there might be healed of that sin.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t know this may be a matter of semantics. I believe that yes I am forgiven of all my sins, yet I have a remaining sin pull, which I will struggle with and have to fight until I reach the other side. I believe this tension, keeps us from being prideful, and dependent on Christ. In fact, it’s throughout the epistles, how we must put off and put on, mortify the deeds of the flesh. Colossians 3:5+, Romans 7, Galatians 2:20. Those who have truly been regenerated, given a new heart, will strive to live for Christ, not perfectly because we will always have the sin pull.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Perhaps its because we are constantly growing into a new nature and we actually never reach that perfect phase. The most important part is that God, through Jesus, never ‘sees’ our sin anymore and thus, we are declared, “Not guilty”. To me, that is the really important part.

          Liked by 2 people

        2. No, we will never walk perfectly, though may we strive to. As we strive, we will grow in that direction. As I grow in my faith and walk, as I grow closer to Him, I find my healing from alcoholism, gambling addiction, etc. But as I find healing from these sinful conditions, I compare it to a whack-a-mole game, now I’ve found I struggle with anger (which I never did before. Because I had alternative ways if addressing). As I am healed of my anger, I might find I struggle with pride and/or arrogance, vanity, greed, a variety of other defects. I am being healed, but I must struggle with my sickness bit by bit, hopefully I am much farther than I was 10,,5, 3 years ago, and continue to grow until I go to join with Him in paradise, and ultimately at his second coming when the new heaven joins the new earth, God dwelling again with man in the creation he called good and sent just son to save. Which can never happen without the healing Jesus brings when he is lifted upon the cross….to save and not condemn.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. I was talking to my husband about this this morning before church. Yes, we are always going to be plagued with a sin-pull. In fact, I was remembering reading from one of the Puritans that we are using in a study, who says that even our struggle with sin is a grace from God, and works for our good. The book is All Things Work For Good by Thomas Watson, written in the 1600s.

            Liked by 2 people

  1. Of course we know that Jesus saying that the man’s sins are forgiven. It was done, but of course, the Pharisees protested it because only God can forgive sin, secondly, it was something tangible that could be proven it was done, so he told the man get up and walk. That they could see. Jesus had the power to do and did both.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The Pharisees had no problem with the forgiveness of sin itself, but they had procedures. There was a protocol to be followed marked by sacrifice, by blood, officiated by the appointed priests. Jesus got them out of sorts because he was going around just freely forgiving sins, no blood, no sacrifice, just ‘your sins are forgiven!’

      Liked by 2 people

      1. They did have a problem with proclaiming he can forgive sins, because that was blasphemy to them because Jesus was acting as God. And so he asked which is easier? Anyone could say your sins are forgiven, and we wouldn’t know different, but to tell someone to walk who hasn’t been able to walk shows the power that Jesus had for them to see. Mark 2:5-11. Furthermore, there is no focused teaching on healing by the apostles. Jesus performed miracles to vindicate his claims about himself and his teachings and the apostles performed miracles to confirm they were sent by God.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s