“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.” John 3:14-15
If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:8-9
When the Israelites were dying from venomous snakes in the desert, God had Moses put up a bronze snake on a pole for the people to look at and be healed. (Numbers 21) For that whole group of people, that simple snake was given as a connection point for people to turns towards God. It was the focal point of faith and obedience, and looking towards it cracked open the doors of healing and salvation.
In the same way, Jesus crucified became the thing for all people, everywhere, to look at. That simple event gives them a connection point on earth that they can turn to and find the one true God. He just asks people to look to him and believe, and then saves them from the plague of sin and death. This was the foundation of the apostles’ messages in the book of Acts that they kept repeating again and again. Jesus was crucified, Jesus was raised from the dead and glorified. Turn and believe in him and you’ll be saved! (1 Cor 1:23, 1 Cor 2:2, 2 Tim 2:8)
God gave people something simple and real on earth, something they can look at with faith to find salvation and eternal life.
But many people don’t know the story of Jesus at all. There are also a billion or so people from one religion that think they know the story of Jesus, but they’ve been raised to firmly believe that he never actually died. So how can these people turn to God and find life?
As I walk amongst these billion I dearly love, I’m constantly telling them that Jesus really died whenever I can. What do you believe? What religion are you? Jesus died and rose again. What do you have to do to worship and please God? Look at Jesus. He died.
Yesterday I was chatting with some young guys and the subject of religion and apathy came up. I talked about how everyone has trouble really knowing and relating to God, but how I found something that changed everythıng. “I found someone who laid down their life and suffered, so they could wipe my debt totally clean.” This grabbed the attention of a guy who wasn’t really present in the conversation and he jumped in asking, “What?! Who did that?”
– shock –
When you’re telling someone that Jesus died and rose again from the dead, and they stare blankly at you or squint their eyes in confusion, it may not seem like anything special or deeply spiritual is happening. Actually, it probably didn’t feel to exciting or supernatural when Moses put that weird bronze snake thing up on a pole. But when people started looking at it and getting healed… that was amazing.
We simply tell people that Jesus laid down his life on purpose to take away our sin and sickness, and then rose again, victorious over everything. Then we urge them to believe, to look at him and find this forgiveness and life.
We might not see anything happen right then, but if we’ve explained it clearly, we’ve planted him firmly in their brains. They now have a very simple message which will seem riduculous but they probably won’t forget. Now he is lifted up and available for them to turn to and be saved. This is huge!
Moses planted that pole with the snake down into the sand.
We plant the idea of Christ crucified in people’s brains.
When they turn and believe this ridiculous piece of news, they will be saved.
I heard a story about a guy from this billion who came to a group of believers and told them his crazy journey to Jesus. He was from a very conservative religious background. “20 years ago,” he explained, “two foreign guys talked to me on the street. And God has never let me go ever since. Now I surrender.” He believed and found life, because someone lifted up the Son by telling him the simple story so many years ago.
Tell people Jesus died and Jesus rose again. Give them something to look at and be saved.
“When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself.” - Jesus John 12:32