“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. 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.” John 3:14-16
When Jesus was reaching out to Nicodemus with the gospel he referenced a very interesting Old Testament story. He refers to Numbers 21:4-9 where the Israelites were judged for their incessant sin of complaining. God unleashed venomous snakes in their midst to kill them off. But Moses, once again, interceded on their behalf. Here was God’s solution, “The LORD said to Moses, ‘Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.’ So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.” Numbers 21:8,9.
God’s solution was simple. Look at the fake snake and live. And this is the exact illustration that Jesus uses with Nicodemus, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”
Look and live. Believe and receive. That is it. That is all.
Imagine some of the religious leaders in Moses’ day saying, “No, that’s too easy! The Israelites must really look, they must look hard at that snake. They must look so hard that their eyes turn red. Because if they don’t burst a small blood vessel in the white of their eyes then their look was not a genuine look. Afterward they must produce fruit in keeping with that look or it demonstrates that they never looked at the snake on that pole to begin with. They were fake looking.”
But many religious teachers are teaching the same thing today. Jesus told us that, when it comes to salvation, we must look to him and him alone through faith and we will live. But many think that this is too easy. Just believing is not enough according to these “adders” to the gospel (hmmm “adders” are technically snakes!) They often misquote James 2:19 to try to prove their point. They tag the concept of faith alone in Christ alone with theological sounding terms like “easy believism” and mock it as not enough to genuinely save. But those who mock do so to their own peril because they are mocking the very words of Jesus himself.
“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.”
But wait! Don’t they need to believe hard? Don’t they need to believe so hard that they are willing to ______________ (fill in the blank)?
No. They need to believe in Jesus and that is all. Anything less is impotent to save. Anything more is heresy.
Keep it simple. Look and live.