What do you and a snake bite victim have in common? Jesus answers a religious professor clearly but shockingly. (and I think he has something for us too)
v.14: The connections between this verse and the preceding verses are two. First, Jesus moves from an explanation of the new birth in terms of the categories ‘water’ and ‘spirit’ used by Ezekiel (cf. notes on 3:5) to a narrative passage, the well-known account of the bronze snake in the desert (Nu. 21:4–9). That bronze snake on a pole was the means God used to give new (physical) life to the children of Israel if they were bitten in the plague of snakes that had been sent in as a punishment for the persistent murmuring. By God’s provision, new life was graciously granted. Why then should it be thought so strange that by the gracious provision of this same God there should be new spiritual life, indeed ‘eternal life’ (v. 15)? Second, the deepest point of connection between the bronze snake and Jesus was in the act of being ‘lifted up’. Moses lifted up the snake on a pole so that all who were afflicted in the camp might look and live. In the same way, the Son of Man must be lifted up. The Greek verb for ‘lifted up’ in its four occurrences in this Gospel (cf. 8:28; 12:32, 34) always combines the notions of being physically lifted up on the cross, with the notion of exaltation. This is a theological adaptation of the literal (‘to lift up’) and the figurative (‘to enhance’) meanings of the verb. Even Isaiah brings together the themes of being lifted up and being glorified, and this in the context of the suffering servant (Is. 52:13–53:12, esp. 52:13 LXX).191 If Jesus is the ‘one who came from heaven’ (v. 13), how shall he return? The Synoptists think of the crucifixion and the exaltation as temporally discrete steps; John makes it clear that Jesus’ return to the glory he had with the Father before the world began (17:5) is accomplished by being ‘lifted up’ on the cross. It is this exaltation that draws people to him (8:28; 12:32). If in v. 13 the Son of Man is the revealer, the one who came down from heaven, here he is the sufferer and the exalted one–but it transpires that it is precisely in the matrix of suffering and exaltation that God most clearly reveals himself in the person of his Son. The theological connection between resurrection and exaltation is not infrequent in the New Testament (e.g. Acts 2:32–33; Rom. 8:34; Eph. 1:20; 2:6; Col. 3:1; 1 Pet. 1:21). John goes farther, and theologically ties together the crucifixion, the resurrection and the exaltation. – D.A. Carson
Martin Luther called John 3:16 “the gospel in miniature.”… “Nicodemus, the new birth is possible because of the great, boundless love of God.” That is the thrust of the words “God so loved the world.” This great love brings a great result: “That whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”… Jesus’ illustration about Moses is great not only because it tells us what the great necessity is, but because it suggests what the necessity is not. It would have been quite natural for the Israelites to attempt to concoct an antidote to counteract the poison. They could have occupied themselves trying to find a cure for the venom, and some of them would have been pacified right into death with the hope that a cure was imminent.
Similarly, in our own lives we sometimes try to eradicate the “venom” with hopeless rites and chastenings. The Israelites could have vowed to be more careful the next time, but there was no next time. –Kent Hughes
About the Lord’s Supper
Who should take part in communion at Goshen CRC?
[T]hose who are truly sorrowful for their sins, and yet trust that these are forgiven them for the sake of Christ; and that their remaining infirmities are covered by his passion and death; and who also earnestly desire to have their faith more and more strengthened, and their lives more holy; but hypocrites, and such as turn not to God with sincere hearts, eat and drink judgment to themselves. *
The Apostles’ Creed I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, our Lord— Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit. I believe a holy catholic** church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. AMEN.
* Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 81 also 1 Corinthians 11. We believe that this should describe every healthy Christian. If you have questions about this, or want to change to meet this description, please see a pastor or an elder, we’d love to help you grow closer to Jesus together.
**The word “catholic” comes from the Greek katholikos, which means universal, wide ranging, whole. Not to be confused with “Roman Catholic” or sometimes capitalized ‘Catholic’. As Christians we “commune” (e.g. we are part) of the larger body of Christ spread out geographically and throughout time. (A form of this creed was written in 390 AD)