Sermon – The Snake and the Cross (John 3:14 – 3:21) – Cornerstone Church Kingston
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John 2021

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The Book of John was authored by one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, John, who features in the gospel. John makes his mission for writing the book plain in 20:31; “that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” He details the many words and claims of Jesus, as well as the various responses from those listening; in either faith, amazement, caution or rejection. Listen as Cornerstone preachers unpack the narrative and invite us to reflect on our own response to Jesus.

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Sermon 10 of 58

The Snake and the Cross

Ben Read, John 3:14 - 3:21, 20 February 2022

Ben continues our series in John’s gospel by preaching to us from John 3:14-21. This amazing passage contains one of the most famous verses in the Bible (John 3:16) - here, we see why Jesus came and what it means for those who trust in him.

John 3:14 - 3:21

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.

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 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. 18 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. 19 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. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”


Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

So our passage today is from John chapter 3 will be reading from verse 1 to 21.

To John chapter 3, verse 1 to 21. Now there was a pharisee, a man named Nikodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God for no 1 could perform the signs you were doing if God were not with him. Jesus replied, very truly, I tell you, no 1 can see the kingdom of god unless they are born again. How can someone be born when they are old?

Negodemus asked. Surely, they cannot enter a second time into their mother's womb and be born. Jesus answered, very truly I tell you, no 1 can enter the kingdom of god unless they are born of water and the spirits. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, you must be born again.

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear it sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the spirit. How can this be nicodemus asked? You are Israel's teachers, said Jesus, and do you not understand these things?

Very truly, I tell you. We speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe How then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No 1 has ever gone into heaven except for the 1 who came from heaven, the son of man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness so the son of man must be lifted up that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him, For god so loved the world that he gave his 1 and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

For god did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to to save the world through him, 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 1 and only son. This is the verdict. Light has come into the world, but people love darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hate the light and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light so that it may be seen plainly that's what they have done has been done in the sight of God. Well, good evening, everyone.

Hello. Hello. I can't just say it's really encouraging that so many of you come out this morning. We we heard that we need to crave pure spiritual milk, and we were fed this morning, weren't we? We were fed.

But yet, here you are again craving pure spiritual milk, and it's a real encouragement to me. I went to the deveins for lunch for guest who's coming to lunch, and it was brilliant. Deveins, I know you're watching Steve. That was an amazing curry. Thank you.

I'm absolutely stuffed. If that's what the word of God did to us, none of us would be here after this morning's sermon. There's so much to digest there, but but we're back out because We can never get enough of the word of the lord and the life that comes through it. So I'm really grateful that you're Let's pray as we start, ask the lord to help us again. Father, we thank you for your word and how it it brings life into us as you breathed life into Adam, so you breathed life into us as you speak to us.

We thank you that it grows us and matures us and shows us new things, and I pray that your Holy Spirit would once again feed us tonight by your word, that we would grow as a result of what we hear. And for anyone here who doesn't know you, Lord, would they step into the light this evening? I pray in Jesus' name, amen. Our men. Okay.

John 3 16 is a famous verse, isn't it? It's perhaps yeah. It That's right. Perhaps 1 of the most famous verses in the bible, if you were to ask someone, like, what do you think the most famous verses? They might say, John 3 16.

But if I was to ask you now, without looking down, who said John 3 16? Whose words are they? Without looking down, I'm very good. Thank you very much. Straight down.

Who might you have thought? Said them. It's quite interesting. Maybe you've never thought who did say them. Maybe you thought Jesus said them.

Perhaps it surprises you, perhaps not, that actually they're John's words. If you have 1 of those Bibles where Jesus' words are in red, they stop at verse 15. And then in John 3 16, John is talking again. And actually, this is an irregularity in John's gospel. These verses versus 16 to 21 are quite different to the rest of John's Because if you look at a bird's eye view of the Gospel of John, firstly, in chapter 1, there's this magnificent opening, isn't there?

In the beginning was the word, and the word was God, and the word was with God. He's the light of all mankind, He's the 1 who gives us the right to become children of God. We've seen his glory, and he now dwells among us. That's the beginning of John's gospel. And then if you go right to the end in chapters 20 and 21, there are a couple of verses where John pops up again.

And he says, Jesus did so many things, but these things have been written so that you might believe, and by believing have eternal life, And then largely everything in between those 2, John talking bits, John disappears behind the narrative. He disappears behind the story of what goes on. So it becomes like this. They said this. Jesus replied with this.

The next day, they went over there and did that. The pharisees thought in their minds, Jesus knew their thoughts. The disciples were confused. Jesus rebuked his disciples. The pharisees wanted to kill Jesus.

They went over there and did that, and yada yada yada. That's how apart from the yada yada yada. That's how the the gospel of John largely goes, except here. We have an interruption here. Now, if you know the lord of the Rings, the fellowship of the Ring begins, doesn't it?

I haven't used a Lord of the Rings as an analogy in months. So before you start thinking, here we go again. The lord of the Rings has vanished for the ring begins with an extended monologue if you know the film. And it's quite long. Because there's a lot that you have to understand before the story makes any sense.

But then, once you get it and the story goes, you don't hear from the the monologue person again. If you watch call the midwife, you'll know that that begins and ends with a with a voice over, doesn't it? Phil Cooper is nodding. He likes that show a lot. Yes.

And there's kind of like an intro, and then they sort of sum up at the end. As Dean said, they riff I think Dean is another fan. They riff on sort of the moral lessons learned in the episode. But as far as I know, You don't hear from that person in the middle of the episode. Is that right?

Yeah. Phil, is that right? Now now he's pretending. They don't interrupt the story when it's going, but John is interrupting the story here. He's interrupting the story.

And we know the purpose of this whole book is that we might believe in the name of Jesus and by believing have eternal life. That's the purpose. And we know John's already had an opportunity to say as much as he wants. He's done that versus 1 to 17 of chapter 1. So if he's pausing the narrative now, pressing pause, stepping in front of the camera and starting to speak again, it's because he wants us to get something very important that's gonna help us believe in Jesus and by believing have eternal life.

So that's what's going on. It's an irregularity. Why this interruption? Why now? What has just happened that makes John want to step back out onto the onto the stage?

As the drama is paused behind him. And this is my first point this morning, this evening, wherever we are. The snake. My first point tonight is the snake. Jesus says in verse 14, just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the son of man must be lifted up.

That everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. So what is this snake thing about? What is Jesus going on about there? Well, he's referring to what happened. If you know the story, he's referring to what happened to the Israelites in the wilderness, recorded in numbers chapter 21.

And it is worth reading a little bit about it to to understand what Jesus is saying here. So in your bibles, turn back to numbers chapter 20. That's where we're gonna pick up The story haven't got a page number for you, I'm afraid. But I will do in a moment. 157.

Thank you. Numbers 20, So the the the back the background to what's happening here in numbers 20 is Israel have been saved from Egypt. They were slaves over 400 years in Egypt, they cried out to the lord. The lord delivered them via the hand of Moses, and now they're wandering in the wilderness. And if you look at verse 2, chapter 20, now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron.

They quarreled with Moses and said, if only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the Lord, why did you bring the Lord's community into this wilderness? That we and our livestock should die here. Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs grape vines or pomegranates, and there's no water to drink. So that's the kind of people you're dealing with at the moment.

These people have forgotten the Lord's hand in their lives, forgotten how he he took them up out of Egypt. Miraculously if you know the story. They've forgotten how he's given the manor every single day, bread from heaven, food of the angels they get to eat. And there's miraculous water provided for them in the past. So if you read the chapters before, God provides water for them, miraculously.

But instead of gratitude and trust, these people complain. And they sort of don't trust that God can do it all over again. And actually, they say something that's awful. They say it would have been better if they had died and were dead than if they were with the lord right now. It's better that we it'd be better if we were dead in the ground than if we were with the lord in the wilderness.

So that's the state of these people. In the wilderness. And they are a real mess, but actually Moses, he prays, there's a little whole story there, but actually water gushes out of a rock to water the whole community. And there's over 600000 men plus women and children and livestock. So that water that comes out of a dry rock, God provides and feeds or nourishes, waters this whole community.

Now turn to chapter 21 just a little bit later, a few days later, or however long it is. Verse 1 of chapter 21. When the canaanite King of Arad, who lived in the negev, heard that Israel was coming along the road to Afarim, He attacked the Israelites and captured some of them. Then Israel made this vow to the lord. If you will deliver these people into our hands, we will totally destroy their cities.

The Lord listened to Israel's plea and gave the canaanites over to them. They completely destroyed them in their towns, So the place was named Horma. Okay. Good. So it sounds like Israel are learning their lesson.

They have a problem. They go to God, and they ask for help. And God delivers them. And we'll forget for a moment that God has already promised this land to them, so they don't have to come to God and go, God, please give us this land, because he's already promised them that they'll have them. But they're in quite a good position here.

They've got bread from heaven. Every morning, they go out and collect it. There's water that gushes out of rocks when they need it, and now they're also successful in their military campaigns. So what do you think happens next? What do you think happens next?

Look at verse 4. Of numbers chapter 21. They traveled from Mount Hall along the route to the Red Sea to go around Eden. But the people grew impatient on the way. They spoke against God and against Moses and said, why have you bought us out of the Egypt to die in the wilderness?

There is no bread, there is no water, and we detest this miserable food. Yeah. Do you get the state of these people here in the wilderness? Do you see how blind they are? When they were in Egypt, they were crying out to God, and they were saying, deliver us, as the song goes.

Deliver us, save us. And we hear that God heard the cries of his people. They were going up. The cries for 400 years were going up to God. To save them.

And now having been saved, they're crying out against God for saving them. These people are mental, and not just against Moses anymore. Originally, they were crying out just against Moses, but here in verse 5. They spoke against God. They've turned not just against Moses, but now they've turned against God.

You need to get that in order for the next bit to make sense. Look at verse 6. Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them. They bit the people, and many Israelites died. The lord sent venomous snakes.

The lord sent venomous snakes. This isn't just a result of the broken fallen world. Oh, there are venomous snakes in this world. That sometimes will bite you. God sent them against his own people.

And the word venomous here means fiery burn. That's what it means. Their venom burned when you were bit it. When they struck your ankle, There'd be a pain because the teeth went into you, but then there would be a burn as the venom spread. And and it would be searing pain, and it would work up your leg, and it would work its way up through your body, and it would burn you until it reach your vital organs, and then you you would die.

It's pretty horrific. Actually, in deuteronomy chapter 8, Moses says this, he said he's talking about God. God he he led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness with its venomous snakes and scorpions. So in deuteronomy 8, we learned from that passage that the land was home to venomous snakes and scorpions, But for a time, God was leading his people around the snakes in the wilderness. God saw there's a scorpion over there.

I'm gonna send my people that way. There's a snake over there. I'm gonna keep the snakes away from my people. I'm gonna protect them in the wilderness. But now, he sends them.

He turns their heads. Before he was turning them away, now he's sending them. Why? Why is God sending snakes against his own people? And the reason is because they need a physical picture of their spiritual state.

They need a physical picture of their spiritual state. Because they're terminally ill with a sickness they can't see and don't actually believe in. So they have to be confronted with a 3 d x-ray scan of their slithering hearts. That's what's going on. Someone was recently was talking.

I can't remember who it was about how no. It was it was Rory Bell. Actually, not here. So I can tell you that I can claim this. It wasn't Rorybel.

It was me. Rory Bell was talking about how in Israel, some doctors have this 3 d sort of hologram projection, live of someone's heart. So you lie on a table, and this thing scans you, and then it projects above, and apparently you can manipulate the hologram. So you can sort of spin it around and look at the patient's heart to tell what's wrong with it. Well, that is what God is doing by sending the snakes.

It's a 3 d scan of their heart, so they can see the problem. Because the snake in the Bible is a picture of evil. Satan comes to Adam as a serpent, and the snake as a result is cursed above all the animals. John the Baptist looks at the pharisees and says, you brood of vipers, and Jesus calls them snakes. So the snakes sent by god represent the urgent emergency of sin in the heart of Israel.

Worst than anything that could infest the camp, their hearts are infested with the snake of sin. And so, really, actually, the the fiery snakes are a kindness from god. They are a megaphone in their face to say, wake up. You think this is a problem? You've got a far worse problem.

They're an early warning sign going off. And actually, it works because they they see. They see their sin as a result of the snakes. And when they see, they turn back to God in repentance. You see that in verse 7.

The people came to Moses and said, we sinned. When we spoke against the Lord and against you. So the snakes have woken them up. The snakes have come in, they go, wow, we sinned. God has sent his snakes to show us something.

And then in verse 8, they say, pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us. We're getting bitten. We're dying. We're in pain. We don't want this.

The Lord's hand is heavy on us, pray that the Lord will take them away, and so Moses prays for the people. Now what happens next is interesting because God doesn't answer their prayer. Actually. God doesn't answer their prayer. He doesn't take the snakes away.

And you might think, well, that's quite cruel. But actually, what God does do is provide a way of salvation for those who are bitten by the snakes to live. That's what God does. You can see that in verse 8. The Lord says 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. That's a strange miracle, isn't it? In the Bible.

It's a miracle. It's a strange 1. So imagine being an Israelite in this camp now. You're amongst the 600000 men plus women and children as big a lot going on. It's almost like a city in the wilderness.

And you're going about your normal day, maybe you're carrying some pots, clay pots, and you've collected water, or you've gone to get the manor. Suddenly you're bitten. You've been struck on the leg. It hurts. But then you realize, as you see the thing slither away, that it was a snake.

And the burn starts to creep up your leg. And you drop what what you were carrying, and it smashes on the floor, and you're in shock. And you start to feel a bit sick, and the burn's getting worse, and it's going up your leg. And you realize you can't really walk properly because your legs going numb. But you think, get to the pole.

Get to the pole. Get to the pole. And your sight's going a bit hazy, maybe people realize what's going on, and they come and get you, and they put you under their arm, they start dragging you, and it's it's away in the distance, so they've got to like almost drag you there, and the pain's getting worse, and your sight's almost completely gone, and then they slump you down in front of this pole, and your heart's going, and you're you're about to die, and they sort of tilt your head back, and then you look up in a pole, and just sort of somewhere up there in the blurriness, is a a shiny bronze snake. And when you look at it, you live The venom is dealt with, and the pain goes away, and you can stand up again. And go about your day.

Isn't that an amazing miracle from God? You looked and you and you lived as simply as that. It didn't matter how many times you'd been bitten either. It wasn't a chalkboard next to this poll saying, oh, you've already been bitten twice, mate. You can't look at it again today.

Even if on the way back to pick up your clay pots. The snake came back and got you in the leg, you go, oh, fuck. And you had to go, wee. You had to, like, go back to the pole again, and they did that whole thing again, and you looked you lived. No matter how many times it happened, if you looked, if you simply looked, you lived.

And I wanna say what an amazing grace that is from God to these people. They were a stiff necked people. They constantly forgot God's kindness to them in the past. They constantly didn't trust God's provision for them in the future. But in their time of need, there wasn't a sacrifice that they had to make in order to be saved by this snake.

They didn't have to come to the pole with a lamb prepare it before them. You wouldn't be able to. You'd be you'd be in so much pain you couldn't do it, but no sacrifice was required. There wasn't a barrier to the snake. It was up on a pole for everyone to see.

You weren't asked if you had snake insurance. Sorry. Have you got snake insurance? Your snake insurance expired last month. But there is a pay as you go option.

Every time you get bitten, give a bit to the treasury, and you can look up. There wasn't that. There were no questions asked about how good you had been that day. Yeah. Well, did you swear, you know?

When you got bitten, did did did did a swear word come out your mouth then? Have you sinned in the last 48 hours? There was no questions asked. If you simply trusted the word of the lord and you looked, you would live. Actually, God in his wisdom didn't take away the snakes.

That was the prayer of the people. They said, God take the snakes away, but God didn't do that. And he also didn't just zap people with healing as soon as they were struck, which is another thing that he could have easily done. But so that he might continually remind them of their desperate state of sin, their desperate need for salvation, and his constant, free, never ending grace. They had a pole They could always go to, given to them by the lord.

And as they looked, they remembered God and their dependence on him and the life that they have from him. That's what we heard this morning. Life comes from the word of God, and that's what the people remembered as they looked up They trusted the word of the lord that if you look, you will live. I actually wonder, I was thinking about this. How many things in our lives are snakes that we ask the lord to take away.

And in his wisdom, he doesn't. Maybe that we would learn to depend on him instead and constantly come back, reminded of our need for grace. 3 times, Paul prayed for a thorn to be removed from him. The Lord didn't answer that prayer, but he said my grace is sufficient for you. Perhaps the Lord does that with us as well.

That's my first point. The snake. Yeah? You get that? The snake is a glorious gift of grace by God to these people.

He's doing so much through it. Right. The cross, my second point. The cross. The snake is an amazing foreshadow of the cross.

Absolutely amazing. But it is only a foreshadow. It was never meant to be the thing that made you right with God or that healed you of your sin. And actually, Hezekiah in 2 kings smashes this bronze snake made by Moses. It's still around all those years later.

But actually, what's happened by this point is the Israelites have started burning incense to it. They think that the snake is the god. And so he has a car that's like, right. He's smashes it, and he's smashing uploads of other idols. So they treat it as as God instead of looking through it to God.

So it itself isn't the thing that saves. It's a foreshadow of the cross. Back to John chapter 3. Let's go back to the new testament. All the way back to John.

And we'll look at versus 14 again. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness. So the son of man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. So here's the thing. You and I in this room right now and at home watching We've been struck by something infinitely worse than a venomous snake.

We've been silently struck by the fiery serpent of sin and of death. And actually, you don't feel the burn with this 1. That's the tricky thing about it. If you felt a burn and you were like, oh, ah, I've been struck by something. You would go and seek help.

But actually, this is a sneaky serpent because when you're bitten by sin, it tranquilizes you, puts you to sleep. But we are perishing as a result of sin. And not just our body says the bible, our souls are burning up because of sin. This venom is not just going to kill us. It's not just going to burn your physical organs.

So the bible says it will utterly destroy you, this venom. Sin will utterly destroy you. That's what the word perish means. In John 3 16. It's that it's 1 of the most famous and lovely verses in the bible, but it's got this word perish in it.

Which means to be utterly destroyed. It means to be apart from God forever. We heard about the things that perish this morning, if you were there in the service this morning. The grass of the field fades away, and then it's gone. It's no more.

It's perished. And 2 Thessalonians chapter 1 is a strong medicine. This is a strong passage. This is a strong passage, but this describes perishing. 2 Thessalonians 1 8.

You don't have to turn to it. I'll read it. It says, he will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord, Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the lord and from the glory of his might. Everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the lord.

That is the venom of sin that is running through our veins. And there's an LFT for this. Yeah? LFTs, we all know them. Who here has not done an LFT?

No 1 surely has not done an LFT. He's not done an LFT. Well, you're lucky. There's an LFT for this venom to tell if you have it, by the way. So if you want to see if you got it, this is what you do.

You don't have to stick something up your nose. And put it in a little pot, and then drip the liquid in the little thing. You don't have to do any of that. All you have to do is go to the 10 commandments. They are a lateral flow test for this venom.

That's literally what Paul says the law is for. He says the law shows you that you have sin. The law is an LFT for this venom of sin in you. If you're 1 of those people who gets 1 of those faint lines, and you think, I'm not sure I'm not sure if I am a a sinner. I've just I haven't got any of the symptoms.

I've got something. It's not a sin cuff, It's a righteous cough. If you're 1 of those people, then you take a PCR test. Yeah? A PCR test will sort you out.

The PCR test will confirm whether or not you've got this venom, and that's the sermon on the mount. If you get a faint line on the 10 commandments, you will have a positive result. The result will come back to you. If you take it seriously, it will come back to you, and it will say positive, perishing. On route to everlasting destruction, and being shut out.

But God has provided a cure in equal measure to this venom that's inside of us, just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, that the dying might have life. So Jesus was lifted up on the cross. That's literally what happens. As Jesus was crucified, he was nailed down on the floor, and then they would lift the pole up like this, and it would fall into a hole in the ground. So he's lifted up.

And Jesus is predicting this. And he says, just as Moses lifted up the snake, so the dying might have life, Jesus was lifted up on the cross so that the perishing might have eternal life. Isn't that amazing? In the wilderness, it was the just the dying who lived. But with Jesus, it's the perishing who have eternal life.

It's It's amazing. And so perhaps perhaps you read the scriptures. Maybe this has happened to you. Maybe this hasn't happened to you. But perhaps you read the scriptures, you're taking the the the PCR, and you realize suddenly you've been struck with sin.

The result is positive, perishing. And you drop what you're doing, you drop the clay pots on the floor, they smash, and your heart's racing, you say, get to the cross. Get to the cross. Get to the cross. And as you fall on your knees, and as you look up at the cross, with this venom choking you and knowing it's taking you to everlasting destruction as you look up at the cross and you see Christ upon it in faith that he's the son of God.

In faith that he's there for you. In faith that he can save you, then you'll live. Just as you looked at the snake, you look at Christ, and you live and you live forever. The venom of sin is dealt with forever. And then John steps in in verse 16.

John comes back in. He's like, whoa, whoa, whoa. That's amazing, isn't it? That is amazing. Don't move on too quickly.

The whole rest of John, he'll be like, you can get through it. You can read a verse and move on. But not this 1. I'm gonna step in now and I'm gonna rub this in. So that you see how amazing what Jesus has just said is.

And then verse 16. For God, so loved the world, that he gave his 1 and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For god so loved you, he says. For god so loved you. He gave his 1 and only son so you would be an imperator That's what we heard this morning.

That's what team you wanna be on. God gave his son so that you could be an imperishable. I mean, it's interesting, isn't it? Why would the thing you look up in the wilderness? When you were struck by the snake in the wilderness, and you looked on the pole?

Why is it that the thing on the pole is a picture of the thing that struck you. It's a bit weird, that, isn't it? Why would the evil thing that you be the thing that you look up to. Wouldn't it make more sense to me if it was a lamb or if it was a dove or something? Or even just, I don't know, anything.

Could it be that because upon the cross, Jesus took the very evil that struck He became sin for us. He who had no sin was made in the likeness of sinful flesh that he might condemn sin in the flesh. That's love, that God, who loves his son more than anything. Would send his son to become sin for us on the cross. That's how you know God loves you, by the way.

Not your outward worldly circumstances. If you're questioning, does God love me? Because of your circumstances, look at the cross. And just like the snake in the wilderness, whoever looks lives. And actually, now because of this because of this, the game has changed.

The whole history the game of history has changed. The game has changed. And the the 1 reason you will be condemned now before the judgment throne of God, is if you do not look in faith at Christ. You know that? On judgment day, the reason you're condemned or not has nothing to do with what you've done or what kind of life you lived.

The only reason you'll be condemned is if you did not look in faith to Jesus. Because in in the wilderness, the Israelites who died after being bitten by the snake, They only died really in the end because they refused to look at the poll. Yes. They were bitten by the snake, and the venom was in in their in their bloodstream. But actually, there was a cure for it.

There was no need for them to die, really, anymore. And so if they did die, you would write on their death certificate, cause of death. Refuse treatment. That's what you would write. Refuse treatment.

And it's the exact same now with Christ. Look at verse 18 of John chapter 3. Whoever believes in him is not condemned. 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 1 and only son.

So if you don't believe in the name of Jesus, you stand condemned already. So what will it say on your certificate of death? What's it gonna say? Is it gonna say refuse treatment? Refused to look and live, refused Christ.

And why do people refuse? Look at verse 19. It's interesting. We're told, actually, it's fear that deeds will be exposed that people refuse this treatment. Verse 19, this is the verdict.

Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But this is my last point. You have to be exposed to be saved. You have to come into the light to be saved.

If you were struck by a snake in the wilderness, you would have to come to the center of the camp, and everyone would see you, and everyone would know what's happened to you, It would be obvious to everyone that Venom was in your body, and it would be especially obvious to God. Because you were standing underneath the pole looking up at it. So you're exposed. And it's the same with Christ. You have to come to the cross and look up.

The very act of doing that exposes your sinfulness, and you have to suddenly bring things up before God that are uncomfortable. You have to go into places in your heart that you normally close trap doors down them and don't open. You have to go into your heart and box memories that you have done so well chaining down. You have to do all of that when you come to the cross. So, actually, I wanted to ask you guys tonight.

Are you afraid? Are you hiding from god? Is there anything that you don't want to be bought out before him? What is it that's keeping you from coming to Christ and bringing everything to him? Do you think he's gonna condemn you?

Do you think he was sent by the father lifted up on a cross to expose you and embarrass you? And to say, see? That's filthy. That's why that's why I'm not saving you. No.

Look at verse 17. For god did not send his son into the world, to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. The light has shone It's gonna expose you. It's gonna show things up in you that you've done so well hiding. But it's not shown on you to condemn you.

It's shown on you to save you. Some of you might have heard this before as an analogy. It's fantastic. In 19 96, in Australia, the government had had enough of high profile killing sprees with firearms. And so they introduced tougher laws, which made it illegal to own weapons.

But instead of wanting to force people further underground, and cause even more dodgy activity. What they wanted to do was people to give firearms up. To bring them and just get rid of them. And so what they did was they declared a national amnesty. And they said for a certain period of time, if you have a gun, please could you bring it to the police, and they'll dispose of Now there's gonna be no questions asked.

If you bring a bazooka in, they're not gonna go, whoa. Where'd you get that from? They'll be like, yep. Thank you very much. If you bring some oozies in, they're not gonna go, what the heck are you gonna do with those?

They'll say thank you very much. Apparently, over a million firearms were handed in. During that period of time. 1 third of the country's firearms, it was estimated. No questions were asked.

You could hand them over freely. Perhaps people who had guns who knew that they shouldn't do, were really glad to get rid of them. Actually It's actually a weight gone, because it was locked down in in my gun lock, in my house, and it was chained down, and it was hidden, and and I always got touchy when people were near it. But actually, now here, for a period of time, I could just bring it and I could just give it. Didn't have to hide anymore.

Well, because of Jesus, because of the cross, god has declared a period of global amnesty to the world. So rather than being afraid to come to God, because all of our sin, he wants us to come to him. Jesus says it's not the healthy you need a doctor. It's the sick, and that's who he's come to call. And you see that in verse 21.

Whoever lives by the truth comes into the light so that it might be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. It's amazing. By coming into the light, you actually demonstrate to the world that what you did and what you've done. God's already seen. God already knows about it.

You can't hide stuff from God. Darkness is like light to him. Night is like day to him. He knows everything. The deepest darkest cupboard in your heart is as bright as light to god.

But those who live by the truth have come out of the darkness. And we expose ourselves, and we look up at the cross, and we say, Christ, take it all. And the venom is dealt with forever. And so just to finish, application 1 application for Christians. If you're a Christian here tonight, Don't tire of coming to the light.

When the Israelites were struck by another snake, they would go to the pole. When we fall and we sin, we can confess our sins, and he's faithful to forgive us. Continue coming into the light, exposing yourself, asking the lord to forgive you. Because the snakes of sin are actually still in the camp of our heart, unfortunately. Who will free me?

Who will rescue me from this body of death? Is what Paul says. And we're all in these bodies of death. When we're resurrected, there'll be no more snakes. But until then, we have the cross.

Keep coming back to keep confessing. You're imperishable because you have the eternal life Christ has given you as you look. So keep coming back to him. And look, if you're not a Christian, then I wanna say that poll is up for you today. The cross itself has rotted.

It was a bit of wood. It's no longer up. You can't go and see it. But actually, what Jesus accomplished on it, is still standing today. John says at the end of his gospel, and what we looked at already, was that he's written these things that you may believe in Jesus Christ and that by believing you might have eternal life in his name So as you look at what Christ is saying in verse 14 and 15, as you look at him and you go to the cross and you look up, confess your sins come into the light.

You won't go from perishing to eternal life, just like that. God so loves you, he gave Jesus. And so come into the light. Confess your sins, look and live. As you look at the lord Jesus Christ.

Take 20 seconds on your table, and then Abri's gonna come up and and pray. And then we're gonna sing our final song.

Preached by Ben Read
Ben Read photo

Ben is a Trainee Pastor at Cornerstone and lives with his wife Ceri who is a youth leader and helps run the women’s ministry in the church.

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