Nicodemus pt 2; The Brazen Serpent and the Son of Man

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Sermon Outline:

1. The Witness (v. 11)
2. The Need for Faith (v. 12)
3. The Son of Man (v. 13)
4. The Brazen Serpent (v. 14)
5. The Plan of Salvation (v. 15)

Sermon Text:

John 3:9-15

9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

Sermon Notes

The Brazen Serpent and the Son of Man
Nicodemus’ curiosity in Jesus may have been excited by the reports made to the Sanhedrin because of the answers and testimony given to the priests, Levites and Pharisees by John the Baptist (John 1:19-34), Jesus’ cleansing of the temple (John 2:13-22) and the many “signs which He was doing” (John 2:23). Then to hear Jesus teach and preach, speaking about repentance and the kingdom of God confirmed that this “Rabbi” was a very different teacher. Nicodemus said, “we know… You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with Him.”

Our Lord’s answer to Nicodemus’ unspoken inquiry, “Except a man be born again, he can not see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3). This is regeneration by the Holy Spirit unto salvation. It precedes faith and is a gift of God (Titus 3:4-7; Eph. 2:8-9; 1 Cor. 12:3).

What follows next in the encounter with Nicodemus is nothing short of shocking. In John 3:9-15 Jesus uses an OT illustration comparing Himself to the brazen serpent of Moses in Numbers 21:4-9. To think of our Lord being represented by a serpent is troubling, isn’t it?

The imagery is powerful though. Brass or bronze in Scripture is typically used as a symbol for judgment. One example of this is John’s vision of our risen Lord in Revelation 1:15, “His feet were burnished bronze refined in a furnace…” The serpent represents the sting of death; the curse of the Law; not that which poisons, but that which kills. Jesus on the cross was the divine Substitute, who stood for His elect in the place of judgment; and by imputation took the penalty of the Law – it’s curse – and the wrath of God that burns against the sinner and our sin. “He who knew no sin became sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus was lifted up in suffering; but also in exaltation: for He is both Lord and the Lamb, High Priest and propitiation; Savior and sacrifice. Amen?

What does this mean for us beloved? That as Moses instructed the people of Israel to look upon the brazen serpent with the assurance that they would not die if they trusted in what God had said, in like manner all who look unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith and believe solely upon Him for their salvation will be saved. What hope there is in Jesus’ words to Nicodemus. What a wonderful, merciful Savior He is…

So prepare your heart for today’s message. The Son of Man was lifted up, but “whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.” SDG!