Three Similitudes
John 3:14-15
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:…


1. As the Israelite had death in his bosom, so the sinner (Hebrews 2:14); although the latter sting may not be felt as was the former.

2. The Israelite wanted all means of cure, and had not God appointed the serpent he had perished. As helpless is the sinner till God shows us His Christ.


1. The serpent was accursed of God. Christ was made a curse for us (Galatians 3:13).

2. The brazen serpent had the likeness of the serpent, but not the poison. Christ came in the similitude of sinful flesh without sin.

3. The brazen serpent was uplifted on a pole; Christ on the Cross.

4. As the poison of a serpent was healed by a serpent, so the sin of man by man (Romans 5.; 1 Corinthians 15:21). But Christ had power in Himself to heal us which the other had not.

5. The brazen serpent was not the device of an Israelite, but of God; so no man could have found out such a means of salvation as that established by Christ.


1. The Israelite was healed only by looking; so the sinner is justified only by believing.

2. As looking, as well as the rest of the senses, is a passion rather than an action; so in justification thou art a patient rather than an agent: thou boldest thy beggar's hands to receive, that is all.

3. The Israelites before they looked up to the brazen serpent for help —

(1)  Felt themselves stung;

(2)  Believed that God would heal them by that serpent.So the sinner must —

(1)  Feel himself a sinner, be burdened and heavy laden (Matthew 2:28), before he will or can come to Christ. A man that feels not himself sick, seeks not the physician;

(2)  He must believe that in Christ there is all-sufficient help.

4. The stung Israelite looked on the serpent with a pitiful, humble, craving, wishly eye, weeping also for the very pain of the sting: with such an eye doth the believing sinner look on Christ crucified (Zechariah 12:10).

5. The Israelite by looking on the brazen serpent received ease presently, and was rid of the poison of the living serpent, and so therein was made, like the brazen serpent, void of all poison. So the believer, by looking on Christ, is eased of his guilty accusing conscience (Romans 5:11, and is transformed into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18).

6. Even the squint-eyed or purblind Israelite was healed; so the weak believer, being a true believer, is healed by Christ.

7. Though the Israelite were stung never so often, yet if he looked up to the serpent he was healed. As we are daily stung by sin, so we must daily look up to Christ crucified. Every new sin must have a fresh act of faith and repentance.Yet there are two differences betwixt their looking on the serpent and our looking by faith on Christ.

1. By looking they lived, but yet so that after they died; but here, by believing in Christ, we gain an eternal life.

2. They looked on the serpent, but the serpent could not look on them; but here, as thou lookest on Christ, so He on thee, as once on Peter, and on Mary and John from the Cross, and thy comfort must rather be in Christ's looking on thee, than in thy looking on Him.

(J. Dyke.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

WEB: As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,

The Serpent's Bite
Top of Page
Top of Page