John 3:14I kept wanting it to say that man has a choice, man has free will to choose salvation, God enabled man just enough to choose or deny him. Just look, God gave the Israelites the option to look or not look at the staff with a snake on it. So, since Jesus Himself is talking to Nicodemus and telling him that is what salvation is like then there is a choice. God must have enabled man to be able to choose Salvation. 'Believe in him and have eternal life.' But still, something just didn't sit right.
Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 3:15 so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”
So I looked for some commentaries on it. No one I could find (of the teachers I was already reading) seemed to hit on it. They always looked around it, skipping to John 3:16 or going back to John 3:3.
So I tried to get some context...
Numbers 21:5-9Recently my perspective has changed; I have started looking at the Bible from a reformed perspective, and it makes SO MUCH MORE SENSE!
And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness, for there is no bread or water, and we detest this worthless food.” 21:6 So the Lord sent poisonous snakes among the people, and they bit the people; many people of Israel died. 21:7 Then the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord that he would take away the snakes from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. 21:8 The Lord said to Moses, “Make a poisonous snake and set it on a pole. When anyone who is bitten looks at it, he will live.” 21:9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it on a pole, so that if a snake had bitten someone, when he looked at the bronze snake he lived.
Jesus wasn't telling Nicodemus about salvation in 3:14, He was prophesying what would happen to Himself. He wasn't talking about salvation, but faith.
God, who is already dealing with Moses and His chosen people (the Nation of Israel in the OT), tells them that to show their repentance they must look upon the snake and they will be healed. Here in the NT, Jesus, who is talking to His chosen people (those born from above) is saying that, like that snake on a stick, He will be put on the cross as a sacrifice for the sins of His people. Notice how after God presented the opportunity to live, no other death is mentioned. Likewise, Jesus died for those who will put their faith in Him. With the working of the Spirit in you no one "chooses" spiritual death.
As you may very well know, my wife will be delivering our 3rd child in a few short weeks. And just like this child has no say in whether he's coming out or not, we have no say whether the Spirit, through the Father's election, gives us new birth. It is for His Glory alone. That is tough to take, I want to put my will above God's and say I did the choosing. And from my perspective I did, but from God's perspective He chose me. Yes, it is terrible that not all are chosen unto salvation (Matt 22:14), but Adam messed it up for all of us and God is fair and just. He doesn't send anyone to Hell- they are going there already. God, in his mercy, will save some of us. All I can do is reflect on the reverence Job had when he was put in his place by God (Job 38). Romans 9 is also a great section on God's mercy and who are we to argue with it.
Those of you filled with the Spirit, rejoice! Those of you not filled with the Spirit.. well, you probably aren't reading this blog anyways. I will live my life as a testimony to the grace God has bestowed upon me, love my neighbor, preach the Gospel, disciple fellow believers, and one day see Jesus in Heaven (Paradise restored).
38:4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you possess understanding!
Romans 9:20 But who indeed are you – a mere human being – to talk back to God? Does what is molded say to the molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 9:21 Has the potter no right to make from the same lump of clay one vessel for special use and another for ordinary use?
Grace and peace to you. Amen.