Jesus’ words in this text are powerful and unequivocal – They state that His “lifting up” would have the power to draw men to Himself.

Lifting Up Jesus –  What Does it Mean?

Through the years I’ve often heard congregations encouraged by worship leaders during the church’s worship service, to lift up Christ in worship. The exhortation is spoken to draw the worshipers attention to the God who is “lifted high in heaven.” An exhortation of this nature has the power to bring us to a place of awe and reverence to the One who dwells on high!

Isaiah 57:15 declares, “For thus says the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy;
I dwell in the high and holy place
 …”

Yes – God is high and lifted up. He lives forever, and He’s worthy of our conscious acknowledgment of this fact in worship.

“Lift Jesus Higher.”

I’ve otherwise heard worship leaders(and I’ve done this myself), exhort people during worship services to “lift Jesus higher” in worship and praise, with the encouragement of the scripture that “if we lift Him up, He will draw men unto Himself.” I believe that this can done as a sincere encouragement for people, challenging the church – to become more passionate and consciously engaged in worship. While this is a wonderful gesture, the idea that “our lifting up Christ has the power to release Him to draw men unto Him,” is not the meaning that Jesus was conveying to his disciples in His teaching.

“Christ Lifted Up”

From all the references which Jesus spoke concerning Himself being lifted up (John 3:14,15; 8:28; 12:32,34), it is clear that there is only one meaning to His words.

Christ being lifted up was speaking of His being crucified and being “lifted up on the cross,” and shedding His blood as the atonement for the sins of the whole human race. When Christ was lifted up on the cross, His feet did not touch the earth, but He hung between heaven and earth, as the mediator between God and man.

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” – 1 Tim. 2:5

There really can be no other meaning related to “Christ being lifted up” from the word’s which Jesus spoke in John’s gospel.

“As Moses lifted up the snake …”

Jesus said that “ … as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:14,15)

With these words, Christ was referencing the days when the people of Israel were in the desert, and because of a spirit of murmuring and complaining, God sent poisonous snakes, from which they died from the venomous bite.  In God’s mercy, He told Moses to forge a serpent (snake) made of bronze, and to “lift it up on a pole,” high above the heads of the whole congregation of the Israelites in the desert, in order that if anyone was bit by a poisonous snake, if he looked up to the serpent of bronze, He would live. (Numbers 21:8).

This was of course a miracle of God’s mercy for the people of Israel, for one only needed to look up, and see the snake of bronze on the pole, and this would effectuate the divine antidote from the venom of the snake bite, where the victim would be instantly healed. It is from this image, that modern medicine derived the emblem of identification of the snake wrapped around the pole, to speak of their profession bringing healing and cures to the sick.

Christ affirmed that this story was speaking about Himself, when lifted up on a cross, and when anyone affected with the venom of sin, would look to His cross in faith, recognizing His mediatorial and atoning work, that he would be saved, escaping spiritual death, and receiving the gift of eternal life.

“I Will Draw All Men Unto Me.”

Since His death and resurrection, Christ has been drawing men unto Himself. This great spiritual demonstration is especially true when the cross of Christ and it’s power and significance is communicated, whether in preaching, teaching, writing, singing, song writing, art, etc.  It’s a spiritual reality – the message of the cross of Christ has the power the draw men.

The Greek N.T. word for “draw,” is the word, “Helko,” which is a word picture describing fish caught in the fisherman’s net, and being drawn to shore, or into the boat of the fisherman.  This is the power of the cross of Christ – When men hear the message of His death on the cross, and His shedding of blood for the forgiveness of sins, and for the gift of eternal life, men are drawn.  This message has been identified by theologians as “the Finished Work of Christ.”  For in reality, there’s nothing a preacher or teacher can add to this message, and there’s nothing that a person can add in terms of his own good works to merit the forgiveness of God, and to ascertain the gift of eternal life. In simplicity, nothing can be done to add to Christ’s finished work to receive salvation and eternal life.

As a communicator, I can personally attest to this power in my own biblical preaching, and when I’ve purposed to share the simple and clear gospel message, I’ve seen men and women being drawn into the “fishnet” of Christ’s love, sensing their need to receive Him as Lord and savior of their lives.

Remembering Hanna Greenberg – A Great Encouragement to Me

When I was a young pastor, there was a woman in our church named Hanna who was originally from Germany. I mention this because she came to the United States as a mail-order post WWII “war bride,” seeking to get way from the difficulty of the ravages of war in post WWII-Nazi Germany. During the war, as a teenager, she in fact saw Hitler twice, where one of those times, she saw his car being driven through her small village, at the end of the war. When the car passed, he looked her directly in her eyes. She never believed the dogma of Nazism.

After marriage in the USA, through much difficulty, and becoming a young widow in rural farm country, she came to the place of acknowledging her need for Jesus Christ. When she became a believer, her life was changed, and she was champion of telling others about Christ. Many years later, when she and her husband Kermit, came to our church, she became a great encouragement to me.

Concerning my preaching – In my inexperience, I had no clear plan to preach consistent biblical messages which would have have the power to feed, nurture, and grow the church. Sometimes I think I tried to impress people with my knowledge of the Bible. My scattered approach to preaching was sometimes good, but other times forgettable, though the love of God and a sense of spiritual family was present in our congregation. Through it all, I was convinced in my heart that God called me to be a pastor and shepherd, and I grew in my love for God’s people and my love for communicating and preaching. On Sunday afternoons Hanna would often call me and encourage me, but sometimes it felt as if she were scolding me because of her strong accent and tone. Through it all, I learned that she was always wanting to build me up. I’m ever thankful for her and her husband Kermit, who was one of the most Christ-like men I have ever known. I can almost hear her words and her German accent speaking to me now… “Charlie – Preach the Cross! Preach the Finished Work of Christ! People will be encouraged if you preach the cross.” She often challenged me with these kind of firm words which over time, sunk deep into my heart.

From those early days, I learned to love to proclaim Christ and His finished work, and I’ve been personally moved to deeper levels of worship as I’ve pondered all that Christ has done for me. I’m thankful for Hanna, who never stopped encouraging me in the Lord, and I saw the fruit of it, seeing people drawn to Christ and encouraged of the Lord.

The Power of the Cross in Preaching – In the Life of the Believer

The power of teaching on the cross of Christ has astounded me, especially in places of the world where the message of Christ is not freely preached and where there is little understanding of God and Christ in culture and society.  Still, in such places, preaching “the Finished work of Christ,” has had a powerful drawing effect upon people hearing the gospel.  It’s been an honour to see people respond to Christ and receive Him as Lord and savior of their lives, and I have sometimes felt as if a gospel fishnet were being cast over a congregation of people, drawing unbelievers to salvation, and drawing believers in a closer relationship with Christ. I truthfully feel, that at such times, I can take no credit for this. The power has always been in the truth of the message of the Cross of Jesus Christ.

I encourage you – Spend quality time on a regular basis meditating, worshiping, and celebrating the One who was lifted up on the Cross, and all that His death and resurrection has purchased for you. This will have the continuing power to “draw” your heart to love, devotion, and a sense of God’s presence. There will be no doubt, you will sense Christ drawing you. Perhaps you’re feeling Him drawing you now!

If you’ve never accepted Christ as your Lord and savior, feel free to pray this simple prayer – “Lord I confess to you that I have sinned against You, and I need your forgiveness. I believe in my heart that You died on the cross for my sins, and I believe that You rose again from the dead, and that You are alive forevermore. I ask You to come into my heart, and make my heart clean. I place my trust in all You have done. Thank you for receiving me, and saving me. I pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

Charles Curtis – Penang, Malaysia

“Thank you for the cross Lord.  Thank you for the price You paid. Bearing all my sin and shame, in love You came, and gave amazing grace… Worthy is the Lamb. Seated on the throne.”

– Darlene Zschech, “Worthy is the Lamb.” – Hillsongs Music