Summary: 2nd in series of 5 on John 3-4. When I see a movie or hear a young person talk about the "circle of life" I really can’t help but think of Nicodemus – an intelligent and perceptive man who really want to understand about life. He is the man who came to

From Mortal to Immortal

A Study of John 3-4

The Circle of Life

Have you heard of the “circle of life”?

What do you think of when you hear about the "Circle of Life?" In an unofficial and unscientific survey I’ve conducted during the past week most people think of the "Lion King" when they hear this phrase.

It was the wise old Lion King himself who taught his young cub that there is a great “circle of life” extending backwards into a connected past and reaching into the present.

Not that the movie “Lion King” has any sort of lock on the “circle of life” idea. The writers of this movie script simply reflected the secular religious faith of our present day culture. In this pantheism of faith everything is connected. Everything. The hills, the forests and all of nature are all a part of us and we are part of them in a great “circle of life”.

Julia Butterfly Hill advocates for the protection of the earth and the preservation of trees. In 1996 to dramatize the loss of the redwood forests she moved into and lived for 768 days in a tree she named “Luna”.

While the preservation of our natural resources are important and good what I find especially interesting was her philosophy of life. During the months and years living in the canopy of this tree she talked to it. Julia would hug the tree and ask for forgiveness from the tree for all the harm humanity has caused the forests. She would grasp a limb and connect with the tree while she prayed her prayers to the tree.

It is really a form of pantheism and reincarnation all rolled together. They focus on spiritual realities but leave out the author of life.


From the day we arrive on the planet

And blinking, step into the sun

There’s more to see than can ever be seen

More to do than can ever be done

There’s far too much to take in here

More to find than can ever be found

But the sun rolling high

Through the sapphire sky

Keeps great and small on the endless round

It’s the Circle of Life

And it moves us all

Through despair and hope

Through faith and love

Till we find our place

On the path unwinding

In the Circle

The Circle of Life

It’s the Circle of Life

And it moves us all

Through despair and hope

Through faith and love

Till we find our place

On the path unwinding

In the Circle

The Circle of Life

This view of life is very spiritual… and defective

When I see a movie or hear a young person talk about these kind of things I really can’t help but think of Nicodemus – an intelligent and perceptive man who really want to understand about life. He is the man who came to Jesus at night seeking wisdom and understanding.

What he got was the mystery of birth. Jesus said, “You must be born again.” Nicodemus said, (I’m paraphrasing here)… “Huh? – I don’t get it. How can you be born twice?”

Jesus responds to this with two important observations – valuable to us today:

John 3:10-11 (The Message)

Jesus said, “You’re a respected teacher of Israel and you don’t know these basics? Listen carefully. I’m speaking sober truth to you. I speak only of what I know by experience; I give witness only to what I have seen with my own eyes. There is nothing secondhand here, no hearsay. Yet instead of facing the evidence and accepting it, you procrastinate with questions.

1st: The wisdom I’ve given you is clear and evident

Physical gives birth to physical and spirit gives birth to spirit. If you don’t get this how will you understand the really hard things?

2nd: I’m telling you things that only I can reveal to you

This is not something you can understand on your own. It is the revelation of God through me.

The Circle of Life

The Circle of Life has a beginning

The birth of life

God dreamed it, imagined it, planned it, designed it, engineered it, and created it and then breathed into it the breath of life. Adam and Eve were made in God’s perfect image. Can you imagine what life was like? I really can’t. I want to see it some day on the instant replay of EVN (Eternal Video Network).

The Garden of Eden was a paradise unlike anything imagined on this earth. The animals filled the earth and the relationship between God and his creation was perfect. When God’s hand took the dust of the earth and fashioned human kind he breathed into it beginning the circle of life.

The “circle of life” has an end

But this wonderful circle of light and harmony was broken by the introduction of doubt and desire – the result of the venomous bite of the lowest and most reprehensible of creatures – the snake.

It was an angel named “Lucifer” (light) who came to Adam and Eve in the form of a serpent and suggested that God was keeping them from something really wonderful. It was this serpent that created doubt and then desire. And it was in this doubt of God’s love for them and in their desire for personal pleasure without regard for their love for God that they ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

The “Circle of Life” has been Ruined by the venom of sin

On that day the snake of sin bit them. The glorious life they were intended to live with God in this beautiful place was shattered and broken by the wedge of doubt and desire – sin. It didn’t even survive one generation before the circle of life was broken at a place, a time, and a soul that was ruined by a snake.

Life was stained, darkened and broken by something neglectful, selfish and loveless – Sin. Life is still broken today because the snake bites us all.

We are all Snake Bite Victims

Romans 5:12-13 (The Message)

You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we’re in—first sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death. That sin disturbed relations with God in everything and everyone, but the extent of the disturbance was not clear until God spelled it out in detail to Moses. So death, this huge abyss separating us from God, dominated the landscape from Adam to Moses.

Over and over

Every Child born

Since Adam and Eve life has been procreated until the world has been occupied and covered with nations and peoples.

Every time a baby is born a new life begins – perfect and innocent – until the venom of the serpent enters through the twin fangs of doubt (of God) and desire for self-pleasure). The serpent’s bite is deadly every time and in every life.

Like a recording that starts and gets too the same place and skips. Like computer that reboots only to get to the same place in the program where it is corrupted and crashes – again and again

But there is hope for healing

There is an anti-venom

God does not leave us lost and dying

To understand this we need to read from Numbers 21:4-9. In this rather obscure passage there is a strange story of snakebite, death, and healing.

Numbers 21:4-9 (NCV)

The Bronze Snake

4 The Israelites left Mount Hor and went on the road toward the Red Sea, in order to go around the country of Edom. But the people became impatient on the way 5 and grumbled at God and Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt to die in this desert? There is no bread and no water, and we hate this terrible food!”

6 So the LORD sent them poisonous snakes; they bit the people, and many of the Israelites died. 7 The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we grumbled at you and the LORD. Pray that the LORD will take away these snakes.” So Moses prayed for the people.

8 The LORD said to Moses, “Make a bronze snake, and put it on a pole. When anyone who is bitten looks at it, that person will live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it on a pole. Then when a snake bit anyone, that person looked at the bronze snake and lived.

The symbol for the medical profession is a snake on a pole

Healing comes from looking at the serpent on a pole.

The Bible is filled with narratives that leave us going, “huh? What is that all about?” Here is one such story about the children of Israel wondering about in the wilderness. It is only a few verses long with no explanation.

It isn’t until centuries later that Jesus tells Nicodemus that God knew exactly what he was doing when the snakes came into the camp.

Listen carefully to the words of Jesus…

Jesus is our hope

John 3:14-17 (NCV)

14 “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert the Son of Man must also be lifted up. 15 So that everyone who believes can have eternal life in him.

16 “God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life. 17 God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world guilty, but to save the world through him.

The serpent has bitten us

Sin is not a play thing

We think of sin as kind of a dark entertainment. Las Vegas was called “Sin City” in the 50’s and the 60’s. Today it is marketed as a new venue for family vacations.

Listen, you can dress the snake up and you can change the name of his venom but it is still deadly.

Several years ago I read the story of good and moral man who on a business trip decided to visit a bar where “sin” was promoted like chocolates in a candy story. It was warm and pleasant and after he went back to his motel he said – nothing happened. So on the next trip he went again. And again until he became ensnared and trapped by it’s deadly coils. Then, and only then, did he feel the venom of the snake in his flesh.

My dad has told the story of the snake and frog

It seems that the snake and frog got trapped on an island in the middle of a flooding river. The snake couldn’t get across without the frog’s help and begged the frog for his help.

The problem was that the frog was the normal food for the snake and he was a bit distrusting of the snake. They had a conversation that went like this.

“Do you promise not to bite me?” said the frog? “Of course”, said the snake. If I were to bite you then we would both die!” “Ok, then”, said the frog. “If you promise.” “I promise”, said the snake.

And so the frog let the snake climb up on his back and they started across the river. About ½ way across the water the snake bit the frog and in agony the frog feeling paralysis of the venom and beginning to sink said, “You promised you wouldn’t bite me if I took you across the river.”

The snake said, “I couldn’t help myself. It’s just my nature.”

Do not be deceived – the sin is deadly

Do not be deceived the bite of sin is deadly. Death is the result. The stain of sin darkens the soul and sours the sweetness of life.

Sin is not something you can manage or control. Its end is your death – period. No exceptions. Its progress is sure. Its outcome is never in question.

But there is a healing available

Moses lifted a snake on a pole

Snake lifted up on the pole. Those who looked on it were saved. Those who did not perished.

Understand this simple fact. The people were not annihilated… they simply perished.

This OT story was set up to be an illustration for Nicodemus 2000 years ago and for us here in this room today.

Jesus said that he would be lifted up like that snake on a pole

The serpent was lifted on a pole. He was the creature that bit the people hung up on a pole a symbol of death became an instrument of salvation.

When Jesus was crucified he became sin. He took on himself the entirety of Sin. He became the snake in the sight of God and the instrument of sin became the instrument of salvation.

Jesus became sin and was lifted high on a cross.

Jesus on the Cross demands a response. Look to the cross and you will not perish.

There is something about the candlelight that draws the eye. There is something about Jesus that pulls us near him. There is warmth, his acceptance, and his love.

Put your faith in Jesus and the circle of life is restored as a gently warm glow of light and life.

Follow him. Stay in his light and let him heal your life. Nothing else will ever satisfy you or save you.

Tell others about the cross so they will not perish

We are a people with a mission

We who have found our way home live to Help people find their way home.

We have a story to tell…

Starts here where we help people find their way home.