14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
Thoughts: The people of Israel were being bitten by snakes and many were dying (Nbrs. 21:8,9). The Lord did something to solve the problem and a large bronze serpent was put on a pole and when people looked at this, they were healed. Jesus used this story to indicate 1) the people have a problem- they are condemned already (vs. 18); 2) Jesus will be lifted up; 3) Those who look to Jesus will be healed as those in Moses' day were healed when they looked at the serpent. The difference though, is that it is not a physical sickness, but a spiritual sickness; not a physical serpent, but a spiritual one; not a physical healing, but a spiritual and eternal healing (3:16- given "eternal life." When we look to him- the one and only begotten Son- believing, we are given eternal life. The love of God is found in his greatest sacrifice of Himself so we might live.
Prayer: I look to you, Lord. Thank you for being lifted up so we might see you and live.
John Calvin Abridged: He says that he will be openly manifested to all so that He brings to heaven all who are willing to follow Him as their guide. By the preaching of the Gospel, Christ would be raised on high like a standard so that all will be directed to look at him (Isa. 2:2). Christ uses the image of Moses' serpent (Nbrs. 21:8,9) to illustrate this. Paul also says that a lively portrait of Christ is painted when Christ is truly preached (Gal. 3:1). Until Christ shows his aid in rescuing the lost, all are destined to eternal destruction. In this passage the importance to God of our ransom is indicated in that He gave His only begotten Son. Faith frees us from everlasting destruction. "Whosoever" means that all are invited, and also that no excuses will be allowed. Faith renews life in us because Christ renews us by His Spirit and cleanses us by His blood. We are apt to not believe God loves us, so God states it plainly.