Moses made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole, and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent looked at the bronze serpent, he or she was healed.
Psalm 78:1–2, 34–34, 36–37, 38
Do not forget the works of the Lord.
Jesus Christ, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God as a thing to be grasped.
As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, so that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
Background on the Gospel
In John’s Gospel, Jesus’ death on the cross as well as his resurrection and return to the Father are one event. For him, the cross isa sign of exaltation. The serpent that Moses lifted up in the desert to offer healing to those injured by snake bites prefigures Jesus’ being lifted up on the cross, bringing salvation.
The eternal life God offers through Jesus is not life without end but life lived in the unending presence of God. That is why it can begin now in this life. The world to which God sends the Son is not a place but those people who are at odds with Jesus and God. Jesus is sent to this world as a gift. Only believers accept the gift.
Finally, God’s judgment on the world is not a future cosmic event but a present reality. God sent the Son out of love for the world. However, the world has to decide to accept him. Those who accept him have eternal life at the moment of the decision. Those who reject him don’t.