Is Jesus Being Lifted Up?

Posted on January 13, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Devotional Reflections

“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself” (John 12:32)

This proclamation of Jesus in foretelling His death on the cross has always jumped out and grabbed my heart, almost leaving me breathless. I have always been inclined to read the Bible literally, and having been involved in global missions probably have a broader perspective than others on what “all men” implies. When you think of a global population of seven billion people and realize that includes masses of people from Asia, Africa and Latin America, many who still live among unreached people groups, did Jesus really mean all men would be drawn to Him?

John’s gospel goes on to explain in the next verse that Jesus was signifying the kind of death He would experience. He, indeed, was lifted up on the cross and died, and in doing so He provided redemption for lost humanity and accessibility to God for all men. However, we must be careful to avoid an assumption of universality, though the redemptive grace of God is available to all. Jesus was not only describing His death but the fact that what He would do would be a “good news” with an innate power of drawing people into the kingdom.

We must take the sequence of what Jesus foretold a step further to understand the global potentiality of all men being drawn to Him. He later told His disciples it was beneficial for Him to return to the Father that the Holy Spirit might come. Wherein He had been “with” them, the Comforter would be “in” them and empower them to be witnesses of Him even to the ends of the earth. Jesus was not only lifted up on the cross, but He was lifted up to heaven when He ascended; in doing so His followers were empowered for witness that all men would be drawn to Him.

So, why haven’t all men been drawn to Him? It is because all men do not yet know that Christ was lifted up on the cross and paid the penalty for their sins. The drawing power of the gospel cannot work if people have never heard it. It remains for us to lift up Christ in a bold, positive witness and tell the people everywhere how they can have access to God. This is essentially what the apostles and early disciples did. It wasn’t a complicated evangelistic strategy or unique environment that created receptivity for the gospel. They simple testified to what they had seen and heard and lifted up Jesus before the people.

Jesus was lifted up on the cross and paid the cost of redemption for all men. He was lifted up to heaven and empowered us to be His witnesses. But all men will be drawn to Him only when we faithfully lift up Christ in a bold personal witness and confront all men with the claims of Christ and what He has done.

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