14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
Now we have another “Son of Man” pronouncement (the third to this point in the gospel). Later John will say the Son of Man is to be lifted up (Jn 12:33).
even so [just as]
“Even so” or just as is a comparison. Jesus was comparing the bronze snake on a pole with the death of Jesus as He was lifted up on the cross. Being lifted up in both Moses’ and Christ’s case constitutes a unit. Both save. One saves the physical life and the other gives eternal life.
The words “even so” draw an analogy between Moses lifting up the bronze snake and Jesus being lifted upon the cross. The bronze snake being lifted up is a type of Christ being lifted up on the cross. However, the Antitype of Christ’s crucifixion far transcends the type in the Old Testament. The bronze snake had no power to heal eternally. This image only pointed to the One who could heal.
The lifting of Jesus on the cross is a “must.” It is the only possible solution to man’s sin. Jesus’ death on the cross met all of God’s holy demands about being consistent with who He is.
the Son of Man be lifted up,
As God gave a remedy for sin for Israel in the wilderness, so God provides an answer for sin in Christ. The Son of Man was superior to Moses when he lifted up the snake in the wilderness. The “lifted up” here refers to the crucifixion, resurrection, and exaltation of Jesus (Jn 8:28; 12:32, 34).
As the remedy was conspicuously displayed in the Old Testament by lifting up the bronze snake on a pole, so God’s remedy in Christ was clearly displayed on the cross.
“Lifted up” shows Jesus’ glory in spite of His earthly humiliation. It is in the very means of His humiliation that we see this glory. To the eye of faith, it was His ultimate victory (Jn 12:23f). The cross was by no means the end of His glory (Ac 2:33).
The purpose of Jesus’ death was to give eternal life to those who believe that He died for their sins.
Jesus showed His glory not in spite of His humiliation on earth but because of His humiliation. This is supremely the case with the cross, where He paid for the sins of the world. What appeared to men as a degradation of a felon was His glory.
As Moses lifted up the snake on the pole to give physical life, so Jesus would be lifted up on the cross, giving eternal life to those who believe on Him. Jesus had to die to save people from their sins.