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#47 Symbolism

In Jesus’ presence Nicodemus feels his need of change. The cloud lifts from his mind and he begins to understand Ezekiel’s promise that God gives the new heart.

He had never understood that the most meticulous obedience is worthless without a love relationship to God. He had read all the scriptures with a righteously closed mind.*

Jesus helps him with symbolism familiar to him, “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up…”**

Nicodemus knows Israel’s history, that in breaking faith with God, the Israelites had forfeited God’s protection and were bitten by the serpents that lived in the wilderness. Many were dying.

So God had Moses make a brass serpent, and lift it high on two cross pieces of wood. All they had to do was acknowledge that they were dying and look at it. If they looked, they lived.

They knew there was no power in the serpent; it was a symbol of the Messiah who would transform into one of us, and come here as a human to heal us.

Nicodemus got it. Jesus was telling him that He would become the life-offering for sin and die, absorbing the serpent’s venom as one of us, so He could offer us the choice of healing and life. Obedience doesn’t save. Even faith doesn’t save–but it is the link, “the look,” the hand reaching to accept the gift of life offered.

John 3:10-15   *Psalm 51:10, Isaiah 64:6, Ezekiel 36:26-27   **Numbers 21:4-8

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