Light Has Come
Read John 3:14-19 (ESV)
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.”
According to this passage, why did God send His Son into the world?
Approximately 700 years before it came to pass, the prophet Isaiah declared: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them a light has shone” (Isaiah 9:2) The people walking in darkness are sinners, people who stumble around in the dark, living for themselves, doing as they please, and loving the darkness because it hides their sin. These are the people the light shines on. And if we are honest, that is you and me before we knew Jesus. Darkness loving people. Sinners.
Today’s passage from the Gospel of John gives us more insight into why the light came into the world. He says that God loved the world, so He sent His Son to give eternal life to all who would believe in Him. He didn’t come to condemn the world but to save it. Jesus came into the world to be the light of the world that overcomes the darkness and gives us life (John 1:4-5).
John starts off today’s passage with a reference to Moses lifting up a serpent in the wilderness. In order to understand what John is getting at, we need to revisit Numbers 21. Moses and the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness at this point because of their sin and unbelief. They were grumbling once again about the food and water situation. Never mind the fact that it was their own sin that had gotten them into this mess in the first place. Never mind the fact that God repeatedly and miraculously provided for them. They complained anyway.
So the LORD punished them with poisonous snakes. Many Israelites died and finally, the people recognized their sins. They told Moses, “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 (Numbers 21:7). So Moses prayed and God told him to raise a bronze serpent up on a pole. Anyone who had been bitten by a snake could look at the serpent and be healed. The serpent wasn’t an idol. It had no power to heal on its own. The power was in the faith of the people who would look to it believing that God would heal them.
It seems like a somewhat bizarre story at first glance but in reality it is full of foreshadowing and object lessons. This cycle of belief, praise, obedience and blessings followed by unbelief, complaining, rebellion and punishment demonstrated to God’s people just how much they need Him. They couldn’t save themselves. They needed a Savior. Once they were willing to humble themselves, confess their sin, and ask God to help them, He was faithful to deliver them.
The bronze serpent is symbolic of Jesus. In today’s passage, He said that He would need to be lifted up just as the snake was so that anyone who would look to Him for salvation would be saved. The snake was just a one-time lifesaving event. But looking up to Jesus on the cross and trusting Him as our Savior and our Messiah, is an eternal salvation!
Friends, Jesus is the light of the world. If we put our faith in Him we are not condemned. If we look to Him, we will be healed from the poison of sin and saved from certain death. Unfortunately, there are people who will not look to Jesus and be saved. These people are already condemned. John said these are people who love the darkness more than the light because they love their wickedness.
This Christmas Eve, I invite you to spend some time looking up to Jesus, our Savior. The Light has come. Glory to God in the highest!
God, thank You for sending Your Son to be the light of the world. Jesus, thank You for laying down Your life by being lifted up on the cross so that we can look to You and live forever. Amen.