Nicodemus is still having a hard time understanding what Jesus is saying about the New Birth. Jesus then reminds Nicodemus of the time that God provided a way for the children of Israel to live again.
All were bitten by snakes and would die
The Israelites were bitten by poisonous snakes, and many of them had already died. The snakes bit people indiscriminately. It did not matter if you were old or young, a priest or a commoner, male or female, slave or free, religious or indifferent; all were bitten and all would die.
Jesus is here saying that all of humanity has sinned and will die. It does not matter if you are old or young, religious or pagan, rich or poor; you have sinned and will face God’s judgment. We have the poison of sin coursing through our very nature, and we will die.
There was nothing the Jews could do to overcome the snakes
The children of Israel could do nothing to remove the snakes. No matter how many they killed more took their place. No matter what they did, those bitten would die. There was no cure. There was nothing that they could do to overcome the snakes and live.
There is nothing that we can do to escape sin. The more we try to walk out of sin, the more it entangles us. There is nothing we can do to overcome death. There is no religious deed or sacrifice that we can do that will enable us to escape the death that sin brings.
Their only hope was God’s mercy, grace, and provision
The Jews were at God’s mercy. If He did not act on their behalf, they would all die. They begged God for deliverance, because there was no deliverance that any man could bring about. God must do something, for man could not.
We are at God’s mercy. If He does not act on our behalf, we will all die. We must have God do something on our behalf. There is no deliverance that any human being can bring about. God must do something.
God made a way for life
God directed Moses to construct a snake out of brass and hang it on a pole. Anyone who came to look at the snake would be instantly healed from the snakes’ poison and the death it brought.
Jesus Christ has been made sin for us. He was hung on a tree to take the curse, sin, and death that should be ours. Anyone who looks to Jesus in simple faith will be healed from sin and the death it brings.
We must believe in Jesus to be born again
The brass serpent could only give temporary life, and all those who were healed from the snakes’ poison eventually died because of their sin. The brass serpent could not give eternal life, nor deliver people from sin and the judgment of God that sin incurs.
Jesus did not come to give us temporary life or heal us from snake bites. Jesus came to deliver us from sin and the death it brings; this is eternal life. Just as the Jews who were as good as dead were given a new lease on life, so we who are dead in sin may be given new and eternal life through faith in Jesus. This is what it means to be born again.
You have sinned and will die. There is no work you can do to give you new life. You must look to Jesus for new life. Are you born again?