In verses 13 to 15 He says,
No one has ascended to heaven but he who came down from heaven.
and, in verse 14 he says,
At this point, when Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus, the cross has not yet happened. So, He speaks to Nicodemus about something which is in the scriptures and, again, He’s appealing to Nicodemus because Nicodemus should know this, because he should certainly know the Torah, the 5 Books of Moses, and he should know about this incident which is in Numbers chapter 21 verses 4 to 9 concerning the bronze serpent which we’ll read now.
This is when the Israelites are trekking through the wilderness and they’re getting a bit tired of life in the wilderness, and they’re grumbling and moaning to God, and God sends judgment upon them in the serpents which bite them.
Let’s read it. Verse 4:
Moses made a bronze serpent and put it on the pole and so it was that, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when they looked at the bronze serpent they lived.
There they are moaning about the ‘worthless bread’ and the conditions, and God actually gets a bit fed up of hearing their moaning and he sends the judgment in with these serpents that bite them. And the serpents that bite them begin to kill them.
So, they cry out to God and say, ‘We’ve sinned, help us Lord.’ And God tells Moses to make a representation of the serpent, a bronze serpent, and put it up on a pole and hold it up so that when the people look at the serpent, they’re going to be healed from the serpents’ bites.
What’s the significance of that? They look to the bronze serpent and the serpent represents the thing which has bitten them. They’re saved from the snake bites when they look to it.
Of course, the serpent in the scriptures has an association with Satan and with the one who tempted Eve right back at the very beginning. Serpents are always associated with something evil.
Therefore, you have something evil which comes upon them and then they look to this representation which is also of the serpent, and they’re healed.
What could that mean? What’s Jesus talking about? How is Jesus connecting this to Himself?
If you think about it, you may ask: ‘What happened when Jesus was on the cross?’
Jesus on the cross became the sin offering through whom we can receive forgiveness.
It says in 2 Corinthians 5.21,
All of us are bitten by the snake, the serpent. Whoever we are, we have this association with sin. And each one of us has fallen short of the glory of God. None is righteous. No, not one.
Jesus came. He was totally righteous. He became sin on the cross. On the cross, God put the sin of the world upon Jesus so that all of the sins were put upon Jesus, and He became the sin offering.
As we look to Jesus, so our sin is forgiven, and we can look to Jesus who becomes now the representation of sin despite the fact that He’s the holy One in order that we can be forgiven and redeemed.
We look to Him at the cross and He is lifted up from the earth.
John chapter 12 verse 31 says,
And Jesus was on the cross, He took the punishment for our sin, and He became sin that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Therefore, Jesus is telling this story from Numbers to Nicodemus and points you to what was going to happen at the cross a couple of years down the line from when He is talking to him.
It says in John’s Gospel, in chapter 19 that, following the Crucifixion, Nicodemus with Joseph of Arimathea went to Pontius Pilate to ask for the body of Jesus to be taken and put in the in the grave.
John chapter 19 verse 31 says,
So, at the very point of the crucifixion of Jesus, two very significant people, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, who were both members of the Sanhedrin, both believers in Jesus, went and asked to put His body in in a new tomb, give Him honour and respect in His burial. The honour and respect which He didn’t get in His death.
And because they put Him in that tomb, on the third day, the stone rolled away, and we had the glorious event of the resurrection of Jesus.
Then, we have this very interesting little detail in Isaiah 53 verse 9. It says,
It says that Jesus should have been thrown into the pit with all the other criminals, but He was taken down and put into this new tomb with the rich in his burial.
You have two men here, Joseph of Arimathea, a rich man and Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, a powerful religious man who honoured Jesus in this way.
And whether Nicodemus saw himself in this scripture I don’t know, perhaps he did. But in this amazing way, this scripture was now being fulfilled through Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, the rich people who put Jesus in that tomb.
Therefore, Nicodemus no doubt became a follower of Jesus. We don’t know anything more about him, there are only three mentions of Nicodemus in the Bible, this one in John 3, John 7, and the one John 19.
I guess he became a follower of Jesus in the early church but as I say, we don’t know any more about him. Yet he understood verse 16 that
And the most well-known verse of the Bible summed it up.
Why did Jesus come to suffer, to die, to be the punishment for our sin. The expression of God’s love for each one of us?
That we know that God so loved the world, that He loves you, He loves me, He loves every person in the world, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, should not go to darkness, to hell, but have eternal life and go to heaven and be with Him forever.
If you believe in Jesus, that’s what your destiny is.
Hopefully everybody here does believe in Jesus, everybody listening on the internet hopefully believes in Jesus.
If not, now is the day of salvation! Now is the day to repent and believe the Gospel, to put your trust in Jesus and to receive eternal life through faith in Him.