People have all kinds of questions about God: “Why did God allow that to happen?” “I don’t know what God is doing in my life.” “I can’t make sense of the whole God thing.”
John 3 shows that no one can make sense of God except the One who came from Heaven, the Son of Man. Without Jesus, God and all He does in life becomes, at best, guesswork; at worst, frustrating. And for many people, terrifying.
People fail to see God’s mercy, His love and His saving grace without Christ. “I can’t go to church, I’ll be struck down by lightning!” is a comment I often hear. Some feel God will never accept them if they come to Him: “What would He say, if He knows everything I have done and thought? What does He think of me if He knows not only my darkest secrets but all my secrets?” Even some Christians seem to think God barely tolerates them.
John 3:14 takes us back to the Old Testament story of the fiery serpents to help us understand. At one point as the Hebrews wandered in the wilderness, they began to complain about Moses, and God sent serpents among them. Many Israelites were bitten and died. So God directed Moses to construct a brass serpent and put it on a pole, and anyone who would look at the brass serpent would be healed.
Our rebellion against God, our moaning about the life God has given us, our believing lies, is a bit like the snakebite. At the time, our “snakebite” doesn’t seem that bad. It leaves such a small mark, hardly noticeable. But the poison of sin is in our bloodstream, and we burn with shame when we remember the sins we have committed. We are haunted by it. We can’t get rid of it. The poison is inside, and eventually it affects every part of our lives and motivates all we do. It may be cruel words or a lie, or theft, or something that was said to a parent, and the pain you caused is stuck in your memory. Or it may be some bitterness you can’t let go of, a short temper or sexual immorality.
It is amazing how much we do to try to scrub ourselves clean and escape the reality of our sin and the thought of the death and judgment to come. I knew a girl who said she would scrub herself so hard that the shower would be filled with blood around her feet. In our loneliest moments, our darkest moments, the sins we have committed burn and affect everything we are.
The story of the serpent on the pole shows that the answer doesn’t come from inside us. The snake was held up for everyone who was bitten. All you had to do was look, and you would be saved. The solution to the poison was not found by looking inside but by looking at the one who took the curse away. And it was for everyone. And so is Jesus.
“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:14-15).
He is for everyone.
He is for you.
Why? Because God loves.
I was at the gym recently, and I was exhausted. I’m not in great shape. Halfway through an exercise, a troubled young man I have known for a long time appeared next to me. I was a little surprised to see him there. I told him I’d love to see him in church sometime. I told him, “God loves you, you know.” He shook his head.
“He really doesn’t—and it’s too late now,” he said.
He left muttering, “God doesn’t love me.”
Because of the poison of sin and the lie of Satan, we may feel that God cannot love us. It feels like it’s too late.
But God is so full of love for you. When you were at your worst, He gave His only begotten Son for you. The Author of Life died, the Pure One was taken to the place of the unclean, the Blessed One became cursed, the Eternally Loved One was rejected by God and man—for you.
He loves you that much. He loves you at your best, but most of all He loves you at your worst. He looks at you and sees all there is to know—and He still loves you. He sees the sins that curse you and make your life like hell, and He loves you. He sent His Son to take those sins away. He sees the sins that you have forgotten or don’t know you have committed, and He loves you and sent His Son to take those sins away. He loves that boy in the gym, and it is not too late. He loves you, too, and it is not too late.
But there is even more. Did you realize that the whole Trinity is interested in you? The Father who is God loves you. The Son who is God is given for you. The Spirit who is God is offered to you. When you began to read this article, did you realize how concerned the triune God is about you? There is no greater thought than this. Nothing you will ever see in your life will surpass this. There is no achievement in life that will not seem tiny in comparison to this. Winning the Olympics, becoming a president, earning billions, passing exams, getting a promotion, having a family are nothing compared to what the next verse shows. Stop and think about it:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
The whole Trinity is considering, loving, serving, saving—and offering life to you. Overcoming every barrier and every obstacle so that you, a sinner, however bad you are, can live knowing the triune God.
All you have to do is repent and believe. Simply look to Jesus. In Him is life. Simply trust Him.
John 3:17 says, “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world.” God doesn’t want to condemn you. He loves you and wants to save you. That’s why He sent Jesus. So look to Jesus. He will save you and make sense of the God who loves you, and He will pour out His Spirit of life into your heart. ©2012 Stephen Levy
Stephen Levy is pastor of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, in Swansea, Wales, and author of the book “Bible Overview.”
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version.