Jn.3:14,15 – As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.
What a strange picture of Christ we see in this story of the snakes taken from the book of Numbers. The children of Israel were complaining against the Lord because of the length of the journey (are we there yet?) when the Lord sent poisonous snakes among them. The only way to overcome the snake bite was to look at the image of a snake that Moses had lifted up on a pole. Jesus compared this to Him being lifted up on the cross. If you haven’t figured it out yet the snake bite is like the poison of sin that is killing us and the snake is a picture of sin itself that is the source of all of our trouble. What was the solution? Jesus had to become sin for us (2 COR.5:21). He took the curse of sin upon Himself at the cross. All that look to Him on the cross by faith are healed from the bite of sin; all that refuse to look to the cross perish not only in their sins but actually perish because of their sin. Here is how John Calvin describes it.
“The simple meaning of the words therefore is, that, by the preaching of the Gospel, Christ was to be raised on high, like a standard to which the eyes of all would be directed, as Isaiah had foretold. As a type of this lifting up, he refers to the brazen serpent, which was erected by Moses, the sight of which was a salutary remedy to those who had been wounded by the deadly bite of serpents. The history of that transaction is well known, and is detailed in Numbers 21:9. Christ introduces it in this passage, in order to show that he must be placed before the eyes of all by the doctrine of the Gospel, that all who look at him by faith may obtain salvation…..as Paul tells us that a lively portrait of Christ with his cross is exhibited, when he is truly preached.”
So all of us are snake-bit, just not all of us know it. This picture makes redemption very clear, Christ took our ugliness, the ugliness of sin, on Himself. The results, the beauty of Christ comes upon us. Christ is the serpent on a pole, all that look to Him will be healed of the disease of sin.