Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. (John 3:9-15)

Spiritual conversations don’t click for everyone.

Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” (John 3:9)  If anyone should have understood what Jesus was talking about, it was Nicodemus. But he didn’t. 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? (John 3:10).  Nicodemus knew the torah, he was a teacher of the scriptures, but it still didn’t click for him. He wasn’t born again, he hadn’t yet received Christ. 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony (John 3:11).  Remember John 1:12-13? 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. Nicodemus had not yet received Christ. 

What do you do when people don’t “get it”?

12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things (John 3:12)? What do you do?

Use things they already understand to point them toward the cross.

Jesus makes a transition here. He sets up the transition by asking,  “how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (John 3:12).  He’s saying,  “I know you want to understand heavenly things, so here’s how.”  13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man (John 3:13).  Jesus is the authority on heavenly or spiritual things.  He is from heaven and no one can perceive heavenly things better than the Son of Man who is from heaven. 

Then he said, 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life (John 3:14-15). 

The Story from Numbers 21:4-9:

From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom. And the people became impatient on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, andwe loathe this worthless food.” Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. And the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live. 

Consideration about this story:

1. God sent the snakes as a curse and their bites caused death.  2. The snake on the pole didn’t prevent the snakes from biting.  3. The cure from death was also a picture of the curse.  4. The only requirement to be saved from death was to look to the snake on the pole.

Final thoughts:

1.  Eternal death is our curse because of our sin.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

2. Jesus is the rescue from the curse.

(See Romans 3:24-26)

3. Jesus was displayed as the curse.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin… (2 Corinthians 5:21)

13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— (Galatians 3:13)

4. We look to Christ on the cross and are saved. 

14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. (John 3:14-15)

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)

13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. (Colossians 2:13-14)