Jesus Became As Sin For Us

By David J. Stewart | January 2014

John 3:14-15, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

       We find a beautiful truth tucked away in John 3:14-15. Christians get in the habit of so often quoting John 3:16 that we easily overlook the preceding precious verses. John 3:14-15, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” That serpent pictured Jesus, Who became as sin for all men on the cross.

This passage comes from what is called a “type” in the Old Testament...

Exactly what is a type? Theologically speaking, a type may be defined as “a figure or ensample of something future and more or less prophetic, called the ‘Antitype’” (1968, 768).

Muenscher says a type is “the preordained representative relation which certain persons, events, and institutions of the Old Testament bear to corresponding persons, events, and institutions in the New” (Terry 1890, 246).

Wick Broomall has a concise statement that is helpful: “A type is a shadow cast on the pages of Old Testament history by a truth whose full embodiment or antitype is found in the New Testament revelation” (1960, 533).

We would, in summary, suggest the following definition, which we paraphrase from Terry: A type is a real, exalted happening in history which was divinely ordained by the omniscient God to be a prophetic picture of the good things which he purposed to bring to fruition in Christ Jesus. SOURCE: A Study of Biblical Typology

In the Old Testament, the Hebrews provoked God's wrath time and time again by murmuring (complaining) and expressing their lack of faith in the Lord and His servant, Moses...

Numbers 21:5, “And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.”

God was fed up with their whining and ingratitude, so He sent deadly serpents (snakes) whose fiery (poisonous) bite caused 16,000 Hebrews to die...

Numbers 21:6-7, “And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.”

Moses prayed for the people and God answered, instructing Moses to shape some brass into the form of a fiery serpent on a pole. The Lord instructs Moses to tell the people who've been bitten to LOOK TO THE SERPENT TO LIVE...

Numbers 21:8-9, “And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.”

We read a similar passage in Isaiah 45:22, telling all mankind to LOOK TO THE LORD TO LIVE...

Isaiah 45:22, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.”

God deliberately told Moses to take some brass and shape it into a fiery serpent, and then hold up that serpent high on a pole for all the people to see. Moses didn't understand the significance of what God had told him to do, but we wonderfully see in view of John 3:14-15 that the fiery serpent was a beautiful TYPE of the coming Messiah Who would one day be lifted up on a cross, dying vicariously (as a substitute) in our place. This is why we read the precious words in 2nd Corinthians 5:21...

2nd Corinthians 5:21, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

Isn't that beautiful? God the Father made Jesus to be sin for us, Who was sinless and without blemish; that we, who are wicked and without righteousness, could be made the righteousness of God by faith in Christ. What an awesome Savior!!!

Notice carefully in the New Testament that the death of 16,000 Hebrews for complaining was executed AS AN EXAMPLE TO US NOT TO COMPLAIN...

1st Corinthians 10:9-11, “Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.”

God hates whining and complaining. The whole purpose of tribulations and problems is to test our faith (James 1:2-4; 1st Peter 1:7). Hebrews 11:6 teaches that without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God. So God led the Hebrews into the Wilderness (an arid and dry hot desert filled with scorpions, snakes, draught and lack of food) to test them, to see if they would obey His commandments or not (Deuteronomy 8:2-3). By complaining, they totally failed the test, fighting against everything that God was trying to accomplish. Likewise, God allows and even stirs up hard times for His children (Christians) to conform us into Christ's image. When we complain and whine about our troubles, all we are doing is hindering our spiritual growth process.

Thankfully, the Lord has paid our sin debt in full, which includes the sin of complaining when we do it. Jesus paid a debt He did not owe, because we owed a debt we could not pay. What a wonderful Savior!!! Jesus, Who knew no sin, became as sin; so that we who knew no righteousness, could be made the righteousness of God in Him. Philippians 3:9, “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.”

And may I say in closing, if the holy and sinless Lamb of God was willing to become as sin for you and me (who are woeful sinners deserving of the Lake of Fire); then so ought we be willing to become as sin for our fellow brethren, bearing one another's burden of sin, as if we had sinned with them. I'm not saying that we should partake of their sins, God forbid; but rather, we ought to seek to restore a fallen brother or sister in the spirit of meekness as the Bible teaches, as if we had sinned with them, entering into the yoke with them to help shoulder their burden, encouraging them, praying for them and having the humble attitude of “WE HAVE SINNED!

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