As Israel was being led through the wilderness with little food and water, they began to grumble. (Numbers 21:4-9) They writhed under the plan of God to bring them through such hardship, and they rebelled against the leaders who brought them there. This stirred God’s anger. “The Lord sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.” Moses, interceding for the people to be saved from death, was told by God, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he shall live.” Those who chose to look were healed and lived.
Jesus used this story from 1300 years before to illustrate to his night-time visitor Nicodemus how a clueless, helpless human could hope to be born again and be saved from the eternal punishment we deserve. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:14-16
To be rescued from our impossible predicament is so simple. Just a believing look is all it takes. To trust in Jesus being our substitute, rather than hoping that we can someday be good enough. This saving look is something anyone can do, people from any walk in life and any background. Kings and queens and homeless and beggars have equal access to this salvation. Charles Spurgeon (b. 1834), a famous British pastor, tells the story of his own conversion, when he realized he could just look to Jesus and be saved. [read his story]
Dearest Father, comfort the hearts of us helpless sinners who recognize our powerlessness to save ourselves. Give us hope. Open our eyes to the healing salvation that You hold out to us. Give us boldness to look to You and take this undeserved gift of forgiveness and eternal life from Your hands, clutching it tightly to ourselves. Thank You, O Father! Thank You!