2009-03-28 - Lifted Up
John 12:31, 32, "And I, if I be lifted up from the Earth, will draw all men to Myself. But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die."
Christ tells of His own death before it happens. He tells of His own death by crucifixion before it happens. Let us not miss the point here as Christ enters the last part of His life on earth - He knew what He was doing. He knew that He was going to undergo death on a cross (lifting up), and He knew that His death would draw men and women from all over the world to Himself, as they came to Him for forgiveness from their sins. Something certainly radical here is that Christ is opening the door of salvation beyond the Jews. His death was for all kinds of men and women. Forgiveness of sin is to be proclaimed unto everyone. Let us notice also, that the power to draw people to Christ is in His death for sin. It is central to the Gospel Christians believe that Christ made a sacrifice for sin. It is His death which pays the penalty of the sins of all who seek His mercy by faith. His resurrection shows He sealed the deal, but it is His death for sin on the cross that makes Atonement.
The attraction to Christ is His being lifted up. This is what draws believers to Christ. Christians are those who understand that they need forgiveness of sin. This understanding doesn't make them smarter than others. We would never have come to understand this, if we had not been made alive by the work of the Spirit (Ephesians 2). There are many who make much of Christ's life, and the Christian should also, for Christ is our example in all things. However, we don't place emphasis upon Christ's life at the expense, or in the place of, also emphasizing His death. We need both. The same is true respecting Christ's miracles. Christ did many marvelous things. He healed many of illness that had never been known to be healed, for example, the man born blind, in John 9. He lived a life worthy of example by us all. He did astonishing deeds and performed signs which authenticated His claim that He was God - this is all true - but these mean nothing without His death for our sin. A Gospel that does not focus on the death of Christ for sin, and His resurrection for our justification, cannot save sinners from Hell. It is His death for sin, His being lifted up, that draws us to Him.
We ought to glean at least one more truth from these verses. No one comes to Christ unless He draws them. The Lord says in Jeremiah 31:2, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness." We must first be drawn to see the wonder and majesty of Christ's Atonement for our sin. We have to have our eyes opened to our need for forgiveness from sin, before we will respond in faith. The Spirit teaches us (1 Corinthians 2:13), and then we respond in faith. Christ must draw people to Himself. His agent is the Holy Spirit, and thus a practical application for us is that when we pray for those who are outside of the grace of Christ, we pray that the Holy Spirit would draw them to Christ. If they are drawn to Him, they will come to faith in Him, and the principal thing that draws men and women to Christ are His grace and mercy, which come through His being lifted up, and through His taking our sins upon Himself.
Soli Deo Gloria,