Summary: This is a motivational passage that describes what happens when people look to Jesus and infers what happens when they don't.
The Junior Bible Quiz Sermon Series
What prophesy did Jesus make to Nicodemus concerning His atoning death?
Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. (John 3:14,15)
Purpose: This is a motivational passage that describes what happens when people look to Jesus and infers what happens when they don't.
How I would introduce: Jesus refers back to the passage in Numbers 21:4-9 when the Israelites were grumbling against God and Moses because they didn't have enough food and water despite the fact that they had already been delivered from Egypt and had already been miraculously taken care of since. Human nature wants life to always be better. People want more. Ingratitude is one of the curses of humanity. To be human is to be angry with God for not serving his creators well enough. And, to be human is eternally “terminal”. Only Jesus can save people from themselves.
I. The Crucified Christ Reminds us of Who We Are.
1. There is some debate whether Jesus should be portrayed on the cross the way Catholics do, or to have an empty cross to remind us that he rose from the dead. Jesus seems to suggest that the Catholics have the right idea. Jesus on the cross reminds us of what we are capable of. We kill innocent people. We kill people who call us to repent of wickedness. We are prone to jealousy, greed, and strife. The snake reminded the people of the consequences of ingratitude against a loving and proven God. Jesus reminds us of our response to the love of God. We need to be reminded or else we will convince ourselves that we are inherently good.
2. Biblical support: Numbers 21:1-9. The people grumbled against God. They grumbled against God in spite of having lived the incredible evidence of his love and concern. Who does that? We do that.
3. The point: We are the same fallen people we read about in the book of Numbers. We are the same fallen people who put Jesus on the cross. Go watch a little league baseball game or youth soccer match. Watch how people in America grumble that we don't have enough while people around the world go hungry. We are that people.
II. The Crucified Christ Invites all People to be Saved
1. Both the snake and Jesus Christ were displayed in public. This is significant because humanity tends to reserve the good things for those who deserve it. (that is, who have the money to pay for it.) Jesus was made public because he was meant for the salvation of all people. He isn't a secret cure. He doesn't seek a secret society. He was displayed in public for all people to see.
2. Biblical support: “For God so loved the world that he sent his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him might not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) All are fallen. All are invited to be saved from the curse that is inherent in all people.
3. The point: Jesus is meant to be proclaimed publicly. His death and why he died is meant to be told in public. The more the story is told behind closed doors and only at certain times the less Jesus is displayed and the fewer people can be saved. The work of salvation is a public thing.
III. The Crucified Christ Gives Life.
1. Whoever looked at the snake was healed from the venom of the snakes. Looking to Jesus does the same. The longer people live, the more bitter life makes them. The more the mistakes of youth catch up to them in some way. People are their own worst enemy. Looking to Jesus, that is, following his ways, is the path to healing. Following the ways of Jesus brings recovery.
2. Biblical support: Jesus' instructed one person who had been crippled since birth to stop sinning before something worse befalls him. Looking to Jesus is more than an instant healing. It is a lifestyle of turning away from the debilitating habits of humanity and adopting the way of life that Jesus taught.
3. The Point: If you follow Jesus, your life will get better. Your relationships will improve. Your health will improve. Your decisions will be wiser. You will get smarter. Your mind will work better. Your emotions will mature.
How to conclude: Your life will be better by looking to Jesus. You are the same kind of person who grumbled against a loving and providing God. You are the same kind of person who can be saved from that. There is a difference between life before Christ and after. Now is a good time to make the change