He Is The Way
Read John 3:13-15 (ESV)
“No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”
What does the serpent in the wilderness have to do with Jesus’ death on the cross?
I have often heard the complaint that Christians are too narrow minded when it comes to how we get to heaven. I hear things like, “If there is an infinite God, there must be infinite ways to get to Him.” But I say, if there is an infinite, supreme, all-knowing God, then He must be the only One who has the power to decide how people come to Him and only He must know what He decided.
But He didn’t keep the knowledge of this decision to Himself. Instead, He came down to us, made a way for us to get to Him, and gave us very clear directions on how to get there. He is the Way (John 14:16).
In today’s passage, Jesus continued His conversation with the intrigued but reluctant Jewish leader, Nicodemus. Jesus had just told Nicodemus that no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless they are spiritually reborn. Nicodemus was a Pharisee and prided himself on his religious activity and personal piety. He believed that because he performed good works, he would get to heaven.
But that’s not what Jesus said. Jesus said (and I paraphrase here), “Look, I came down from heaven so only I know the way. No one else has even been there.” Then He used an illustration that Nicodemus should have been familiar with—the serpent in the wilderness incident—to explain how He was going to make a way for people to be saved.
Numbers 21:5-9 tells of the people grumbling against Moses. He brought them out of Egypt, yes. But they were hungry and thirsty. God had even provided manna, bread that literally fell from the sky and yet, they were not content. As discipline for their ungratefulness, God sent poisonous snakes into their midst. Many people were bitten and died.
The people suddenly realized that, in their complaining, they had sinned against God. They asked Moses to pray to God on their behalf to take away the serpents from among them. Do you see what happened here? They realized their sin, repented, and understood that only God could save them.
God told Moses to make a serpent out of bronze and set it on a pole. Anyone who was bitten by a snake was supposed to look at the serpent on the pole. Then, they would be healed. God didn’t provide an infinite number of antidotes for the snake bites. Instead, He provided only one way to be saved. The people either had to do it God’s way or perish.
Jesus knew that He was going to be lifted up on a cross in order to pay the penalty that mankind owed for their sins. He came down from heaven to make a way for us to be with God. But we have to do it His way. We have to look to His sacrifice for us on the cross and trust that because of His sacrifice, He will save us. He is our only antidote for the poison of sin that is spreading through our bodies. We have to do it God’s way or we will perish. Forever.
We all have a choice to make. We can do it God's way or keep trying to create our own way. But think about it—who would know better than anyone else how to get to the Kingdom of God? Why trust our eternal souls to our finite human ideas and speculations when God Himself has told us what we must do? Look to Jesus on the cross, believe in Him, and be saved forever.
Jesus, You are the only Way! I know that it is only by Your work on the cross that I can be saved. I look only to You for eternal life. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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