"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have eternal life." - John 3:14-15
Pause, my soul, over these words, and remember that they are the words
of Jesus. Call to mind the wonderful event to which Christ refers, in
the church's history in the wilderness, as related, Numb. xxi. 5 - 9.
Israel had sinned; and the Lord sent fiery flying serpents among the
people, which bit them, and they died. In their distress they cried
unto the Lord, and the Lord appointed this method of cure. A figure of
a serpent was made in brass, to which Israel was commanded to look
only, and be healed. They who did so, lived. If any refused, he died.
This was the ordinance of God. "Now," saith Jesus, "as Moses, at the
command of God, lifted up the serpent, so must I be lifted up; that
whosoever believeth in me shall never perish, but have eternal life."
Now, my soul, mark what the Saviour saith, and see the blessedness
contained in his precious assurance. It was a serpent, that stung the
Israelites. It was the old serpent, the devil, which poisoned our
nature at the fall. All his temptations, assaults, and poisons, are
fiery. And when the dreadful effects of sin are felt in the awakened
conscience, how do they burn with terrors in the soul! What could the
dying Israelite do to heal those venomous bites? Nothing. Would
medicine cure? No. Was there no remedy within the power of man? No; it
baffled all art, it resisted all attempts to heal. Such is sin. No
prayers, no tears, no endeavours, no repentance can wash away sin. If
the sinner be restored, it must be by the interposition and mercy of
God alone. Now observe the method God took with Israel - a figure of
brass. And if, as some men tell us, anything shining like brass, to
look upon, when the head and brain is diseased, would make the person
mad; so far was this serpent of brass likely to cure, that it was the
most unpromising thing in the world to accomplish it. But yet it was
God's command; and that was enough. It infallibly cured. Look now to
Christ. Here also is God's appointment, God's command, God's authority.
Christ was made in the likeness of sinful flesh: and though holy in
himself, yet becoming sin for us, that we might be made the
righteousness of God in him. The single precept is, "Look unto me, and
be ye saved." What, must I do nothing, bring nothing, take nothing? No.
The answer is, "look unto me." This is the appointed way. Christ is the
One only ordinance; Christ is the Altar, Offering, High Priest. "If
thou liftest up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it." Christ is the
Father's gift for healing. In Jesus there is a fulness to heal. Faith
then hath a double plea - the authority of God the Father, and the
fulness of salvation in God the Son. Lord, I take this for my warrant.
Help me, thou blessed Spirit, so to look, so to depend, so to fix my
whole soul on this complete remedy for all my need, that heaven and
earth may witness for me, I seek salvation in no other, being most
fully convinced that there is salvation in no other; "neither is there
any other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved."