Look and Live, Teen Version

Wednesday:Look and Live
Main Passage: Numbers 21:4-9
Other Passages: John 3:1-18
Objective: We should look to Jesus, trusting God for our salvation.
Visuals Available (updated 2016)
Memory Verse: John 3:14-15, Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
Introduction: Footsteps
This week we're learning about people in the Bible, whose footsteps we should follow. Following their footsteps means doing the same kinds of things that they did, or being the kind of people that they were. Today's lesson is about some people who had to learn to trust God, just like people today also need to learn to trust God. We aren't born trusting God. We need to follow in their footsteps and make the right choice to trust God, just like they did.
Story: The Bronze Snake
When the Israelites were wandering in the desert, they started to complain and grumble. They blamed God and they blamed their leader Moses for their unhappiness. Because they spoke against God and didn't trust him, God punished them by sending poisonous snakes to bite them!
So the people ran to Moses and begged for help. They said they were sorry, that they were wrong to rebel against God, and they asked Moses to pray to God, and remove the snakes. Moses did pray to God, but God didn't take the snakes away.
Instead, he told Moses how to keep the people from dying from the poison when they were bitten. He told him to make a bronze snake, and put it up high on a pole, where anyone could see it. God said that if someone was bitten by one of the snakes, they should look at the bronze snake on the pole, and then they wouldn't die. And because God said it, it worked: when people who were bitten by the snakes looked at the bronze snake, they didn't die. But people who didn't look at the snake on the pole died from the snakebites. It was their choice. They had to believe God and trust in his ability to save them from the snake venom.
Looking at the snake on the pole didn't work because bronze snakes are magic. If you get bitten by a poisonous snake today, you wouldn't look for a bronze snake. You'd look for a hospital. So why did looking at the snake on the pole work for the Israelites?
The snakes weren't their real problem. Their real problem was that they needed to trust God. That's why God sent them the snakes in the first place: because they needed to trust God. Looking to the snake, like God said to do, was something they could do to obey and to show that they were trusting in God to save them. Bronze snakes don't save people from snakebite venom. But God can.
Application: Salvation
In the New Testament, a pharisee named Nicodemus came to talk with Jesus. Nicodemus knew that Jesus was from God. Jesus told Nicodemus that he needed to be born again, but Nicodemus didn't understand what it meant.
So Jesus explained it with a simile: Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. Jesus was saying that in order to be saved from our sins, we have to trust in him, just as the Israelites in the desert who needed to be saved from snake poison had to trust in God's ability to save them, by looking at the bronze serpent. Jesus was going to be lifted up on the cross, and when we look to him in faith, believing that God can save us through him, we can be saved from our sins.
Invitation: Salvation
Invite anyone who wants to be saved to stay after the lesson and discuss it further.

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