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What is the meaning of John 3:14?

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Ricky Berger answers the question "What is the meaning of John 3:14?" on Seeking the Lost - International Radio.

Radio transcript for July 26, 2008

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In John 3:14 Jesus talks about how He will be lifted up like the serpent that Moses lifted up in the wilderness. What is the meaning of this verse and what serpent is Jesus referring to?

The verse commonly referred to as the â??Golden Textâ? of the Bible is John 3:16. Many will read this one verse out of the Bible and never look to see what is said before or after John 3:16. However, it is important that we read the verses before and after to keep from taking one verse out of context. In John 3:14, Jesus said He will be lifted up in the same manner as that of the serpent that Moses lifted up. Jesus is referring to a time when Moses and the Israelites were in the wilderness which is recorded in the book of Numbers. Once again the Israelites were complaining to Moses about God and food. Itâ??s amazing how God was continuing to take care of the children of Israel, and yet they had the audacity to complain. We look back and say how can you complain when God has been so good to you? While all the time complaining ourselves. There is much to be learned from Moses, Israel, and the serpent.

In Numbers 21:6-9 God sends fiery serpents among the people of Israel, because of their continued complaining. These serpents were poisonous and many of the people were dying after being bit by one. Upon coming to realization of the error of their murmuring and complaining the Israelites admitted their sin and begged Moses to plead with God on their behalf. Moses did so and God told him to make a fiery serpent of brass and put it upon a pole. This serpent was to serve as a remedy for all who had been bitten. If anyone looked upon the brass serpent, he would live. Not doing so would result in death.

Could you imagine being an Israelite who had just been bitten? Would you rush to look at the brass serpent upon the pole, or would you put it off for something â??more importantâ?? Would you look at the one Moses constructed, or would you be satisfied with a substitute? Would you say I have enough faith that the serpent will heal me without looking or simply say a prayer to be healed? I believe the answer would be the same for all reading this. No doubt if you had been bitten by a serpent and you know death is going to surely come, you would do exactly what Moses said to do. There would be no substitute serpent or way to be healed that would be good enough to convince someone whose life depended on it.

Now lets remember that Jesus related a part of His life to this serpent. He said â??And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted upâ? (John 3:14). Christ was lifted up when He was crucified. Just as the Israelites needed a remedy from the bite of a serpent, we need a Redeemer (Galatians 3:13) from the bite of sin (Romans 6:23; 3:23). Christ was lifted up on the cross to shed His blood for our sins (Matthew 26:28). Just as the Israelites had to obey to be healed, we must obey to obtain forgiveness (Matthew 7:21). Once again we ask, are you willing to become a Christian or is there something â??more importantâ? that needs to be taken care of first? Are you willing to obey the Lord and be added to His church (Matthew 16:18; Acts 2:47), or will you be satisfied with a substitute church not built by Jesus (Acts 20:28), one He will destroy on the last day (Galatians 1:6-9)? Will you say my faith is sufficient, or will you have an obedient faith (Acts 6:7)? Will you do what the Bible says to do in order to become a Christian (2 Timothy 3:16-17)?

It is our prayer that you obey the Lord today (2 Corinthians 6:2).

And now let's listen to what the Bible says about how to become a Christian

Is there something that I must do to become a Christian? Has this thought ever cross your mind? You are not alone in your search for the Truthâ?¦many others have asked the same question today and even in Bible times. After hearing the gospel in Acts chapter two, a group of people asked â??Men and brethren what shall we doâ?? (Acts 2:37). So it is likely that you today are asking the same question! The answers are given in the Bible. We are taught by the gospel of Christ that we must hear the gospel (Romans 10:17-â??So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of Godâ?); We must also believe in Christ (Mark 16:16 â??He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damnedâ?. We must repent of our sins (Turning away from sin and turning to God) Luke 13:3,5. We must confess the good name of Christ as the only begotten Son of God (Matthew 10:32, 33; Acts 8:37) and we are to be baptized for the remission of our sins (Acts 2:38). When we obey God through obedience to the gospel, we have obeyed that form of doctrine (Romans 6) and Jesus adds us to His church, the church of Christ. We have become a â??Christianâ?. We become a Christian the same way that others did so in the book of Acts. The same process that makes us a Christian makes us a member of the body of Christ, the church of Christ. We must live a faithful Christian life even if we must die for Christ (Rev. 2:10). What a great life it is when we become a Christian! We become a new person with new goals. Paul described it as a â??new creationâ? (II Cor. 5:10). We would like to study with you more in your search for Truth and desire to become a Christian. We would like to mail you our free Bible Study lessons so that we can study the Bible together. Please write down our contact information that will be given in a few seconds.

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