Sermon Transcript – Just as Moses Lifted up the Snake in the Wilderness

Series B – Fourth Sunday in Lent – Sunday, March 15, 2015 | Pr. Chris Rosebrough

Welcome to the Teaching Ministry of Kongsvinger Lutheran Church. Kongsvinger is a beacon for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is located on the plains of Northwestern Minnesota.
We proclaim Christ and Him crucified for our sins and salvation by grace through faith alone, and now, here’s a message from Pastor Chris Rosebrough:
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Time StampTranscript
0:28the holy Gospel According to Saint John
0:31chapter 3 verses 14-21
0:34just as Moses lifted up the snake in the
0:37desert so the son of man must be lifted
0:39up that everyone who believes in Him may
0:41have eternal life
0:43for God so loved the world that he gave
0:45his only son that whoever believes in
0:48him should not perish but have eternal
0:50life for God did not send his son into
0:53the world to condemn the world but to
0:56save the world through him whoever
0:58believes in him is not condemned but
1:01whoever does not believe stands
1:03condemned already because he has not
1:05believed in the name of God’s one and
1:08only son this is the verdict light has
1:11come into the world but men love
1:13Darkness instead of light because their
1:15deeds were evil everyone who does evil
1:18hates the light and will not come into
1:20the light for fear that his deeds will
1:22be exposed but whoever lives by the
1:24truth comes into the light so that it
1:27may be seen plainly that what he has
1:29done has been done through God
1:33in the name of Jesus
1:37three wonderful texts
1:40I was saying to somebody earlier this
1:43morning if I cannot preach the gospel
1:45from these texts you need to find
1:47another Pastor I mean this is these
1:49texts literally preach themselves but
1:51let’s take a look and we’d see if we can
1:54weave them all together we’ll start by
1:56looking at numbers 21 4-9 and we’ve
1:59talked about this in Sunday school class
2:00so for some of you this is going to be
2:02review so and that’s good because that
2:05means you’ll pass the test and the final
2:07at the end of the the school year right
2:09so here’s what it says they who’s the
2:13they here the they is the children of
2:14Israel notice we’re in the Book of
2:16Numbers we’re not in the book of Exodus
2:17so it’s been a long time since the
2:20children of Israel have been out of
2:21Egypt and remember God delivered them by
2:24a mighty hand through acts of judgment
2:26the ten plagues against pharaoh and
2:28Egypt then save them mightily by having
2:30them walk through the Red Sea as on dry
2:33ground and then when the Egyptian armies
2:35came to you know to destroy them God
2:37ended up letting the water come right
2:39back over pharaoh Army and destroyed
2:42Pharaoh’s Army and mightily brought them
2:44out of slavery you would think that
2:47after all of that the children of Israel
2:49might get the hint God loves them cares
2:52for them and means well for them right
2:54so here we are in numbers 21
2:57and they traveled from Mount hore along
2:59the route to the Red Sea to go around to
3:02but the people grew impatient on the way
3:05they spoke against God and against Moses
3:09poor Moses
3:11what a tough job and they said why have
3:14you brought us out of Egypt to die in
3:16the desert and there’s no bread there’s
3:17no water and we need to touch this
3:19miserable food
3:23you could just hear it right you know
3:25that’s how they’re talking and I the
3:27reason why we all know this is because
3:29we’ve done this right yeah this is way
3:32worse than the kids in the back of the
3:34car saying are we there yet are we there
3:36yet no and don’t ask me again thank God
3:40for GPS’s so they can watch the number
3:42go down right
3:44so okay now notice this is a sin
3:48okay why they’re not trusting God
3:51they’re not believing that God loves
3:52them they’re not believing that God
3:53cares for them
3:55so here’s what happens Lord sent
3:57venomous snakes
4:00um that’s a little weak uh it’s the
4:03sheen seraphim these are bronze fiery
4:06serpents it’s the way the Hebrew reads
4:08sent them among them and by the way the
4:10reason why they called fiery serpents is
4:12because if you get by get bit by one of
4:14these things it pretty much feels like
4:16you’ve caught on fire from the inside
4:17out and then you die so this is like
4:20being burned alive without Flames this
4:22is kind of how this goes so the people
4:24came to Moses and they said well we’ve
4:27sinned so God sends the venomous snakes
4:29people get bit they die and they realize
4:31whoops now we’re in trouble but we see
4:34progress at this point we see a
4:36confession of sins we have sinned when
4:39we spoke against the Lord and against
4:40you pray that the Lord will take the
4:43snakes away from us so Moses prayed for
4:46the people
4:48so they’ve confessed their sins Moses
4:50prays and Watch What Happens the Lord
4:52said to Moses make a snake put it on a
4:55pole anyone who is bitten can look at it
4:57and live now theologically this is
5:00important God doesn’t remove the curse
5:01instead he gives them a way to actually
5:03survive through it does that make sense
5:06okay and in the front of your bulletin
5:08we have this nasty icky sneaky thing
5:11right now what is this snake now if we
5:15were if Luther were around he would ask
5:18the catechetical question vasastas what
5:20is this how can snakes do such great
5:24bronze serpent said that right well the
5:26answer is what bronze serpents don’t do
5:29such great things this is the bronze
5:31serpent attached with Promises of God
5:34so in other words this snakey thing
5:38is one of the first sacraments
5:41in a very real way
5:43we have and that’s what a Sacrament is
5:44Sacrament means mystery it’s a great
5:47word mystery Sacrament and so what we
5:50have we have Earthly matter
5:52that in and of itself can’t do these
5:54amazing things attached with a sure and
5:57certain promise of God so the important
5:59thing is is that God’s words attach to
6:01that serpent right because if Moses just
6:04on his own decide I was going to make a
6:06bronze Serpent and hang it on a stick
6:07everyone would still die but in this
6:11particular case God said in fashion this
6:13bronze serpent this nekashim seraphim
6:15hang it on a pole and anybody who looks
6:18to it will live now real quick I have a
6:22prop today I don’t normally do this so
6:25does this look familiar
6:27let’s see if there’s anything in there
6:29there’s stuff in here I haven’t all
6:30right hang on
6:32so remember we have some sacraments this
6:37is one of them right
6:39in here I’m not going to perform a magic
6:41trick by the way in here we have
6:43ordinary tap water you could drink this
6:45and it’s refreshing okay now this in and
6:49of itself is nothing
6:51at all it’s water we need it to live it
6:54helps you know veg our vegetable gardens
6:56grow with this stuff helps the crops
6:58grow out there in the fields but when
7:01this water
7:08and then somebody is brought and the
7:11pastor says these words I baptize you in
7:14the name of the father and the Son and
7:18the Holy Spirit
7:21this is no longer just water
7:23the reason why it’s not just water is
7:26because it’s water and the word of God
7:28and what does God’s word say now is
7:32happening here well in Acts chapter 2
7:35verse you know 40 41 42 remember the
7:40great day of Pentecost Peter preaches
7:42that amazing sermon and in that amazing
7:44sermon the people are cut to the quick
7:46it tells them they’re they’re guilty of
7:48killing the Messiah and so Peter you
7:51know is out there preaching the holy
7:53spirit’s fallen and they’re cut to the
7:55heart and they say Brothers what shall
7:56we do and what does Peter say repent and
7:59be baptized
8:01for the Forgiveness of sins
8:06for the Forgiveness of sins when we
8:08confess the words in the Nicene Creed
8:09this is what we say one baptism for
8:13giveness of sins
8:15that’s no longer just water
8:18that’s water and the word and what God’s
8:21word says that water is doing with the
8:24word is what it does it washes away sins
8:27it forgives sins you are buried with
8:29Christ you are raised with Christ your
8:32heart is circumcised by Christ This Is
8:34What scripture says all of these
8:36promises from the word of God attached
8:39to ordinary tap water
8:42so when we see in this text that Moses
8:46was commanded to make a bronze serpent
8:49hang it on a pole and anybody who looked
8:52to it shall live we understand that this
8:55is a Sacrament material attached with
8:58God’s word and God’s words doing its
9:00thing so if you were one of the children
9:03of Israel at this time wandering through
9:04the Wilderness and grumbling against God
9:07and you woke up and there was one of
9:09those nekashim seraphim in your tent and
9:11it bit you
9:14do you have to die
9:17no all you have to do is look
9:22at that snakey thing
9:24that’s all you have to do
9:26and you will live
9:28now all of this we learned from Jesus
9:31from our gospel text from The Book of
9:33Numbers is type and Shadow pointing us
9:35to the reality and Our Gospel text
9:37begins with these words just as Moses
9:39lifted up the snake in the desert so the
9:42son of man must be lifted up that
9:44everyone who believes in him might have
9:47eternal life
9:49so that snakey thing
9:52kind of looks like a cross in a way
9:55well that’s on purpose it points to
9:57Jesus the Old Testament type and Shadow
10:00gives way to the reality Christ then is
10:04the one who is hung on a pole so that we
10:08who believe and look to him will not
10:11perish but have eternal life and the
10:13reason why this is so is because each
10:15and every one of us according to
10:16scripture we were born snake bit
10:19we have the Venom of the serpent from
10:22the Garden of Eden coursing through our
10:24veins from the moment we’re conceived
10:26we’re born dead in trespasses and sins
10:29as we heard in our epistle text and so
10:31because we are born snake bit we are in
10:34danger of not losing our temporal life
10:36but being thrown into the fires of Hell
10:39fiery serpent indeed but Christ saves Us
10:43by becoming a curse for us because it
10:45says cursed is anyone who is hung on a
10:47tree and so he takes your sin upon
10:50himself and he bleeds and dies in your
10:53stead and now Jesus is the one whom we
10:56look to and we don’t perish we lived he
11:00doesn’t save us from the curse he saves
11:03us through it just like the children of
11:06and so Jesus teaches us in John 3 that
11:09this serpent in numbers points us to him
11:12and then in a pit in our Ephesians text
11:15we learn how all of this cashes out and
11:18it’s wonderful think of it this way have
11:20you ever watched one of those television
11:21shows where somebody who has a home that
11:25really needs to be repaired badly I mean
11:28the kitchen appliances are falling apart
11:30the cabinet doors are they’re off the
11:32hinges and and there’s cockroaches and
11:34spiders and the yard looks like it’s you
11:37know you know gopher Kingdom you know
11:38what I’m talking about we’ve all seen
11:39these television programs and so what
11:41they do is they come up with some kind
11:43of a ruse right so what we’re going to
11:45do is we’re gonna we’re gonna send you
11:47on a vacation somewhere oh thank you
11:50that’s great and while they’re gone in
11:53come the contractors and they take this
11:56dilapidated house bring everything up to
11:58code bring new appliances in and then
12:01when they come home
12:03they collapse
12:06why because they’re so overcome by such
12:10unexpected generosity
12:12such unexpected
12:15love and concern right and we love
12:18watching those shows when the reveal
12:20happens as we see their eyes light up
12:22and their jaws hitting the floor and
12:24they seeing for the first time what they
12:27never even saw coming
12:29and that’s what God’s grace is like
12:31because when we look into each and of
12:33each one of our hearts we know that we
12:36stand condemned before God
12:38God does the unexpected out of nowhere
12:42Christ is born of the Virgin Mary he
12:46lives a sinless life for you and your
12:48place he then takes your sin upon
12:51himself and goes to the cross and then
12:53he bleeds dies rises again
12:57and then announces to you
13:01you are forgiven
13:03all of your debt every last penny of it
13:06paid in full
13:10not a thing you have to do to earn it
13:12it’s all by God’s grace and to this we
13:15just collapse how can this be how can I
13:19a sinner
13:21really have eternal life and receive
13:25this incredible gift and that’s what it
13:28is it’s an Incredible Gift and so we
13:30read in Ephesians 2. as for you
13:33you were dead in your transgressions and
13:36your sins in which you used to live when
13:39you followed the ways of this world and
13:40the ruler of the kingdom of the air the
13:42spirit who is now at work and those who
13:44are disobedient this is all of us all of
13:47us were born dead in our sins all of us
13:50the text says lived among them at one
13:53gratifying the Cravings of our sinful
13:55nature following its desires and
13:57thoughts and like the rest we were by
14:00nature objects of Wrath
14:02but now here’s the big reveal
14:04but ah I love this butt because it
14:07erases all the other stuff but because
14:10of his great love for us
14:15wow God who is rich in Mercy he has made
14:19us alive with Christ even when we were
14:22dead in transgressions It Is by Grace
14:26you have been saved and God raised us up
14:30with Christ and seated us with him in
14:33the Heavenly Realms in Christ Jesus did
14:35you catch that oh it’s way better than
14:38those you know surprise remodeling
14:40programs because you’re the one who’s
14:42been remodeled
14:44from the tips of your toes to the top of
14:47your head if you still have some hair
14:49even all the way out to the rest of the
14:50of your hair right
14:52Christ has forgiven you made you alive
14:55in him washed away all of your sins in
14:58the waters of your baptism God has
15:01raised us up with Christ and seated us
15:03with him in the Heavenly Realms in order
15:05that in the coming ages he might show
15:08the incomparable Riches of his grace
15:14this sounds way too good to be true but
15:18it’s not and wait there’s more we even
15:20get Ginsu knives in here right I’m
15:23joking about the knives if you have to
15:24read the fine print
15:26so God raised us up in order that in the
15:29coming ages he might show the
15:30incomparable Riches of his grace
15:32expressed in his kindness to us in
15:35Christ Jesus for it is by Grace you have
15:38been saved notice it doesn’t say will be
15:42it says you have been
15:44I’m preaching to Christians you have
15:46been you are you are saved saved saved
15:50do be do be saved and ain’t nobody going
15:52to take that from you
15:54I’m not going to preach to you in the
15:56hopes that someday you might attain
15:58christianhood uh you are a Christian you
16:02are in Christ you are forgiven you are
16:04redeemed you are on your way to eternal
16:07life face to face with Christ no shame
16:10all Grace all love all mercy and when
16:13you see his eyes on the mo the moment
16:16you close your eyes in this world
16:18because you’ve drawn your last breath
16:21when you open your eyes in eternity the
16:23first person’s eyes you’re going to see
16:25our christs and they are not Angry Eyes
16:27they are deep loving eyes of pure grace
16:32and mercy and you are going to get the
16:34hug of your life
16:36that’s how much God loves you that’s how
16:39much he has saved you that is going to
16:42be a glorious day and that is what you
16:45Christians have to look forward to not
16:47wrath but Mercy Grace kindness love it’s
16:52all for you and you have it now
16:58for by Grace you have been saved through
17:02faith it’s not from yourselves it is the
17:05gift of God it is not by works so that
17:09no one can boast for we are God’s
17:12workmanship and we are created in Christ
17:14Jesus to do good works which God has
17:17prepared in advance for us to do
17:20as our gospel text says
17:22for God so loved the world that he gave
17:24his only son that whoever believes in
17:27him will not perish and that’s you but
17:30you have eternal life for God did not
17:33send his son into the world to condemn
17:35the world but to save the world through
17:37him whoever believes in him is not
17:44and that’s you
17:46you are not condemned
17:48God so loved you
17:50that he gave his son to die for you
17:53you are not condemned you are in Christ
17:55you have eternity to look forward to and
17:59the grace and this generosity of God is
18:01so overwhelming it puts every single
18:04surprise television show to shame but
18:07each and every one of those little shows
18:08in a way point us to the outrageous
18:12grace and mercy of Christ that he can
18:14save Sinners as awful as me
18:16and as sinful as you in the name of
18:19Jesus Amen
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