It is well-known that John 3 is a chapter on new birth and eternal life. In verse 3 Jesus speaks about being born again (or born anew), in verse 5 about being born of water and the Spirit, and in verse 6 He tells us, “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” When we are born anew, our deadened human spirit is born of, made alive by, the divine Spirit. Being born again begins our walk on the golden street of New Jerusalem.
When we believe into Jesus Christ, not only is our human spirit made alive, but also we receive eternal life. This is John 3:15-16. This is a new beginning with a new life. The consummation, the maturity, of this life is New Jerusalem.
But how can a serpent be related to New Jerusalem? Numbers 21:4-9 has the base for our answer. The people of Israel sinned in complaining against God and serpents bit them. Moses prayed and God told him what to do. “Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the pole; and if a serpent had bitten any man, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.”
The Lord Jesus applied this to Himself. “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up” (John 3:14). Because of sin, all humans have the evil nature, the poison, of the serpent Satan within. The Lord Jesus was lifted up on the cross as the reality of the bronze serpent to free us from this serpentine nature.
We need both of these for our participation in New Jerusalem—the Lord Jesus lifted up to cast out the old serpent (John 12:31) and save us from that nature, plus the Spirit entering into us with eternal life. We receive, rejoice, and go on to New Jerusalem.
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