9 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony. 12 If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man. 14 As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15 so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. 16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
We saw in the beginning of chapter three a Pharisee speaking to Jesus and trying to understand the nature of things in regards to heaven and salvation. I must note that it is in the questioning of things that we find the answers. Too often we just do what we are told and believe out of comfort instead of truly believing as a result of faith. It is in seeking out the answer that we grow in not only knowledge, but in faith.
Jesus here quotes the infamous John 3:16, the path to eternal life. It is in the questioning by Nicodemus that this conversation started. He was trying to understand the heavenly things that Christ talked about since until He started His ministry, seemed like such a distant place.
In verse 11, I find an interesting concept. I believe here Christ is making a point that if we are not open to accepting new things: beliefs, practices, etc. then how are we to ever believe in anything we are told? We get so set in our ways that we instantly reject that which others tell us without truly checking them out. I have heard of some religious organizations (Christian and otherwise) restricting their followers from studying “outside” belief systems. My thought on that is if what you are following is The Truth, then what is there to be worried about?
The mention of Moses lifting up a serpent in the wilderness intrigued me. This is a story from Numbers 9 when Moses was leading Israel through the desert:
6 The LORD sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. 7 So the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, because we have spoken against the LORD and you; intercede with the LORD, that He may remove the serpents from us.” And Moses interceded for the people. 8 Then the LORD said to Moses, “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 will live.” 9 And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.
Jesus’ point here was that the Son of Man will be lifted up on a standard and those who choose to look to Him for healing will receive life as a result. Of course, at the time these things did not make much sense to those who were hearing it.
Are you questioning things in your life? Why do you do what you do? Why do you believe what you believe? If someone told you that your current beliefs and practices were wrong and contrary to the One True God, would you scoff and argue or would you shut up and listen?