John 3:10 Jesus answered and said to him, "Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? 11 "Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. 12 "If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 "No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. 14 "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 "that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16 "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.

 In these verses Jesus is going to get down to the heart of the matter.  Nicodemus is THE teacher of Israel and does not understand that he needs to be saved, how then can He speak of the greater things of Heaven.  Jesus will explain to Nicodemus how the serpent in the wilderness was a picture of Christ and His crucifixion.  He will also give us the most famous verse of all in 3:16 that tells us of God’s great love for us and how anyone who calls on Him for forgiveness of sins can be saved, if they would just be willing to believe and trust in Christ and Him alone.

Joh 3:13 "No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. ? how is he in heaven if he is with Nicodemus, what does son of man mean, why use it

It is the work of God’s Spirit, who sovereignly brings about new life (verses 7-8), and it is a work that comes “from above” (verses 13-15). Does Nicodemus believe in a heavenly kingdom? He certainly should, as did the Old Testament men and women of faith (see Hebrews 11:13-16). If anyone could ascend into heaven, they must first come down from heaven. It is a round trip, with heaven as the point of origin. Only the Son of Man can return to heaven, because this is where He came from (verse 13). This is why salvation is “from above.”

  1. The Necessities of the New birth
  1. Christ had to die

14 "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, serpent was lifted up, Jesus will be Numbers 21

The term “lifted up” has a double meaning. It can mean, literally, “lifted up,” but it also has the sense of exalting (see, for example, Matthew 11:23; 23:12; Acts 2:33). Our Lord was literally “lifted up” on a cross, but in the same breath we must also say He was “exalted” by being “lifted up” in this manner. His death on the cross also necessitated His being “lifted up” by His resurrection and ascension.

The story of the bronze serpent, recorded in Numbers 21, foreshadows the salvation which God will provide through the “Son of Man.” The Israelites had been complaining against God, grumbling about the journey and their apparent lack of food and water. They did not like the manna God gave them day after day. And so God sent fiery serpents among them, and many of those who were bitten died. God provided a salvation for this disobedient people, so that they might survive divine judgment. He instructed Moses to make a bronze serpent and to set it on a pole, so that anyone who was bitten by one of the serpents could merely look up at the serpent and be healed. This is precisely what happened. All who were bitten and looked up were healed.

This Old Testament provision for Israel’s healing is illustrative of the salvation God is about to accomplish through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. As the serpent was lifted up, and thus became a source of salvation, so the Son of Man must be “lifted up,” so that those who look up to Him in faith can be saved from God’s wrath as well. The snake-bitten Israelites were smitten of God for their sin. They deserved to die, and apart from His provision of the serpent, they would have. Those who did not look up to the bronze serpent died. The act of merely looking up to the bronze serpent was an act of faith. So far as the people could see, there was no direct link between the snake bite they had received and the healing for which they hoped. But it was the means God provided for their salvation. It was the means God declared through Moses. It was the one way God said His people could be saved. Those who looked to the bronze serpent were saved from the death they deserved.

In verses 14 and 15, Jesus connects the serpent, which is lifted up on a pole, with His own death at Calvary, when He is lifted up on the cross. Nicodemus asks how a man can be reborn from above.

  1. Necessary for the sinner to believe

 15 "that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. Conditional Clause that. Believes and eternal life are in present tense, should not perish is future

Jesus first tells him by analogy; now He tells him more directly. If anyone is to be saved from the penalty of their sins, they must “look up” to Him for salvation. He, like the bronze serpent of old, will be “lifted up” on a cross, and He will later be “lifted up” in His resurrection and ascension. In so doing, He will be “lifted up” in another way—He will be exalted by God for His sacrificial obedience at Calvary. All those who “look up” to Him in faith, trusting in Him to remove the judgment for their sin, like the Israelites of old, will be saved.


  • Who or what are you looking to for your salvation?
  • Who are you pointing people to?