The book of Numbers 21:6-9 details the account of the Israelites rebelling against Jehovah GOD and His sending serpents among the people as punishment. Many of the Israelites died as a result of the snake bites. But as always, GOD provided a means of escape. Moses was instructed to make a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. When one was bitten he could look on the elevated image and live.
The reader is encouraged to refer to a previous blog (Is Work a Bad Word, posted on February 21, 2017), for further discussion of this passage.
For our consideration today note that Jesus used the account of Moses and the serpent as an object lesson in John 3:14 where we read,
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.
Then later Jesus again referenced the idea of being lifted up in John 12:32.
And I if I am lifted up from the earth will draw all peoples to Myself.
Let us consider the idea of Jesus being lifted up. In what sense was He lifted up? There are at least 3 ways in which Jesus was lifted up. The first consideration is perhaps what initially comes to mind.
- Jesus was lifted up on the cross. Death on the cross was reserved for the vilest of criminals in the days of the Romans. Yet here the Innocent One was crucified. Even Pilate’s verdict indicated he found no evil in Jesus according to John 18:38. But he yielded to the mob’s demand to crucify the LORD. All of this was prophesied hundreds of years earlier in Psalms 22. This Messianic Psalm, written hundreds of years before crucifixion was used, depicts the Savior’s death on the cross for the sins of mankind. He was lifted up.
- Jesus was lifted up from the grave. (Acts 2:22-24; 30-32) The Scriptures tell us GOD raised Him up to sit on His throne when He was resurrected from the grave. We are able to go to a cemetery and visit the graves of our loved ones. The tomb where Jesus was laid is empty. This is what sets Him apart from every other spiritual leader who has ever lived.
1 Corinthians 15:13 begins a discussion of the result if Christ had not been risen. The result would be that we have no hope and we are still in our sins. I am thankful He was lifted up from the grave.
- HE was lifted up from the earth. Acts 1:9 gives us the third way in which He was lifted up. According to verse 3, He was on the earth 40 days after His resurrection before His ascension. He was taken up and returned to heaven to be exalted to the right hand of GOD (Acts 2:33). But true to the promise of the angels, He will come again in like manner as He left.
As I consider these ways in which He was lifted up, I am sorry it was necessary for Him to be lifted up on the cross for my sins. But I am eternally grateful He was. But that death on the cross would have been for naught, had He not been lifted up from the grave.
Those assembled in Acts 1 were able to witness His ascension. I wasn’t able to personally witness His leaving, but I will be able to personally see Him come again. Everyone will witness that grand event.
Behold He is coming in the clouds, and every eye will see Him. Rev 1:7
Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of GOD, who also makes intercession for us. Rom 8:34
It is Christ who died, He was lifted up on the cross; and furthermore He is also risen, He was lifted up from the grave; and He makes intercession for us, and He was lifted up to heaven. Praise GOD!