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September 19, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“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 (NIV)
Sometimes, certain things HAVE to happen in order to accomplish what we set out to achieve. For example, in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the shield surrounding Scarif HAD to be disabled in order for Jyn Erso, the film’s protagonist, to transmit the Death Star’s plans to the rebels.
In today’s verse, Jesus tells Nicodemus in order for mankind to have eternal life, He, the Son of Man, HAD to be lifted up. Nicodemus likely did not comprehend the full scope of Jesus’ words, but today we know He was telling the soul-searching Pharisee that He needed to die so He could be sacrificed for the sins of all mankind.
Our sin stood between us and eternity with God; it was the infinite gap separating humanity from our Creator. Why? Because the “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23 ESV). And the only way to atone for sin was through sacrifice. But the yearly temple sacrifices weren’t cutting it. These offerings didn’t cover the full debt for our sin. They simply covered the accrued interest for the year, but never even made a dent on the principal balance owed (Hebrews 10:1–18). In order to pay this debt entirely, the sacrifice of the perfect Lamb of God, the Son of Man, was required.
You see, had Jesus simply come and lived a perfect sinless life, but not given His life, those who believe in Him would not have their sins paid for; thus, we would not have eternal life. It all hinged upon this. In God’s plan for our redemption, Jesus HAD to give His life.
It’s interesting that Jesus used the snake in the desert as His allusion, because there are some striking similarities! First, their purpose was similar. The snake was given to save the Hebrews from temporal death; Jesus was given to save us from eternal death. The manner of the cure was also similar. The people of Israel had to look upon the serpent to be healed just as we have to look to Jesus to be saved from our sins.
I want you to see this, because just as Jesus had to die to atone for our sins, we HAVE to believe in Him to have eternal life. If we don’t, His atonement will not cover us. There is no way around this; there is no other way to have eternal life (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). I pray we believers have the courage to share the truth of God’s plan for redemption with others.
DIG: Read Hebrews 10:1–18, John 3, and Jonah 3.
DISCOVER: Have you ever shared the plan of salvation with someone? Have you boldly shared God’s truth and the way to heaven as Jesus did or as Jonah did? Have you ever run away from sharing His plan, like Jonah did initially? What led you to run away? What made you apprehensive?
DISPLAY: Tell someone this week about God’s plan for redemption. Pray and ask the Lord to give you the strength and boldness to proclaim His truth, because this truly is a matter of life and death.
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.