These verses refer us back to one of the most unique stories in the Old Testament. In the book of Numbers, we find the Israelites in rebellion against God. God sent a plague of deadly serpents, called fiery serpents, simply because fire, or a fever, that ultimately led to death, was the predominate result of their bite.
The people cried out for mercy and God instructed Moses to make a brass serpent, put it on a pole, and hold it up in the midst of the camp. Those who looked up at the serpent were healed. It was as simple as that.
Why not develop medicine? Why not require them to work for a cure? It would have given them all something to do and would have satisfied every natural instinct of the heart to work on behalf of its own cure.
The fact that they were not told to make a human remedy is indicative of the greater fact that there is no human remedy for sin. Nothing but death awaited them unless God provided the remedy.
That incident in Israel’s history became a prefiguring of Jesus Christ on a cross, lifted up, who became wicked sin for us. Salvation, spiritual healing, re-birth comes from simply looking at Him, and, in that look, believing that hope comes only from trust in Him.
My friend, you can join a society, a church, sign a pledge card, go through Bible lessons and catechisms, give money, get baptized . . . and die without God. We have been bitten by sin, and it is a mortal wound. Is there hope?
Look – on a wooden pole – a cross is the dying Savior. He descended from heaven, so that he could be raised up on a cross.
Taken from "Reborn - The Declaration (John 3:1-15)" by Wisdom for the Heart Ministries (used by permission).