John 3:16 gets a lot of attention, as it should. It’s probably the most famous verse reference in the country, even if people don’t know what it says. It is a worthy verse enriched with the beautiful truth of the gospel. You could say it’s the gospel summarized.
What we don’t see signs of in football games is John 3:14, and that’s a bummer because those words are excellent in their own right. It also makes sense why people don’t hold it up at football games or put it on the bottom of an In-and-Out cup:
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, – John 3:14
If someone saw that at a football game and looked it up, they’d probably be left pretty puzzled. What’s this now with Moses lifting up a serpent in the wilderness? But there’s immense beauty in this verse that deserves our attention.
The Lord is alluding to Numbers 21:
4 From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom. And the people became impatient on the way.
5 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 food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.”
6 Then the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.
7 And 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 take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.
8 And the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.”
9 So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live. – Numbers 21:4-9
This event, fourteen centuries before Christ, was foreshadowing what the Savior would do to accomplish John 3:16. Just as the bronze snake was lifted up, so the Savior would be lifted up on a Roman cross as the Sacrifice for sinners like you and me. And just as the Israelites were saved just by looking at the bronze serpent, so all who look to Christ in faith for their salvation will be saved.
that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. – John 3:15