Summary: God’s Son’s purpose in His life on earth was to be lifted up on the cross.
THE SON OF MAN MUST BE LIFTED UP
John 3:14-21 - March 11, 2002
14Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
16"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but who-ever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness in-stead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."
Dear Christian Friends and Fellow-Redeemed: When we look at life, we could make a list of those things that are necessary. For each of us that list might be long, it might be short, and would have different necessary things on it. Certainly, one of the things necessary in life is oxygen so that we can breathe and live. Another necessary thing would be food and clothing and drink and all of those mundane things of the world. We might not think as Jesus thinks. For Him it was necessary that He die. We heard it in our Gospel lesson this morning. Jesus tried to prepare his disciples that He would face death. In the Gospels time and again, He told them His going to Jerusalem would mean pain, suffering and finally death itself. He also reminded them of His resurrection. For Jesus, this was necessary. For mankind and us and all generations to come this too was necessary as our text says, "the Son of Man must be lifted up."
We are told that here in John. We are told it in Luke where Jesus tried to prepare His disci-ples. "And he said, ’The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life’"(Luke 9:22). It was necessary that He would be killed. There was no escape for Jesus. We can be thank-ful because there was no escape for Jesus. But it meant there was an escape us, escape from the punishment for our sins, escape from Satan himself, and escape from even death. So we turn to what the Lord says to us in the Gospel of John using His words as our theme, "The Son of Man must be lifted up." In other words He must be put on the cross and face death. The Son of Man must be lifted up I. For the world’s salvation and II. As the light for believers.
In the third chapter of John, this is the account of Nicodemus coming to Jesus and asking Him very important questions. Nicodemus was a ruler of the church council of the day. He came to Jesus at night so others would not make fun of him. He came to Jesus wondering if this Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ, the Messiah who had been promised in the Old Testament. As we look at this third chapter of John, Jesus tells him, "Yes, He is", and He tells him that a man must be born again of wa-ter and of the Spirit. Nicodemus doesn’t understand this. Jesus says to him, "You are a teacher of the law. You are a teacher in God’s house, and you do not know these things?" You have to re-member that Nicodemus had in his mind earthly things, more than spiritual things.
So we come to our text and these familiar words where Jesus tries to get Nicodemus to stop thinking which such an earthly mind and concentrate on those things that are necessary, those things that are spiritual. He does that first of all by using an example from history that Nicodemus knew. Our text begins: "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life. Nicodemus knew the history of the chil-dren of Israel. He knew that they wandered in the wilderness; and at one time when they grumbled and complained, the snakes came and bit the children of Israel and they died. They were saved when Moses, under God’s direction, raised up the bronze snake. Yet, it is so strange--how can look-ing at this inanimate object, this idol if you want to call it that, a snake made out of metal, save any-body. Yet, they did. Those who looked at it were saved, and they did not die. It happened because God caused it to be so.