Apologies for no Monthly Message in March; I must have been pre-occupied with the Spring Event! Here, as an Easter reflection, is a summary of something I spoke about on that occasion,
Jesus said: “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” (John 12:32). That word “draw” occurs five times in John and once in Acts. It is used of Peter drawing his sword, of hauling and dragging a net full of fish, and of dragging Paul and Silas into the marketplace. It is also used of being drawn to Jesus, here in John 12, but also in 6:44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
So it is a word that conveys something very powerful: pulling out a sword to use it, dragging ashore a full net, dragging someone before a crowd – and drawing sinners to a Saviour! It takes power to draw a sword, haul a load of fish, drag a reluctant person. And it takes divine power to draw a sinner to Christ!
People are saved as they are powerfully drawn to Jesus through the cross. So let us pray for ever more powerful preaching of the cross in our day, and in our churches.
Jesus described the cross here as “When I am lifted up from the earth…”. Remember how he said to Nicodemus: “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”. He was referring to Numbers 21, where God sent venomous snakes among the people on account of their rebellious grumbling. Moses was to put a bronze snake on a pole so that everyone who looked at that snake would live. That was but a foreshadowing of what Jesus would eventually accomplish on the cross: “…so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life”. Notice the word “must”. The cross is not ‘a’ remedy for sin; it is ‘the’ one and only remedy. Only in the cross can the demands of God’s holiness and righteousness – and love – be met.
Jesus used the term ‘lifted up’ “to show the kind of death he was going to die”. But the same word is used in Acts of Christ’s exaltation to God’s right hand. “Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit…” (Acts 2:33) and “God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Saviour…” (Acts 5:31). And, when we humbly come to Christ in repentance and faith we, too, are lifted up. James 4:10 “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” and I Peter 5:6 “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time”. Jesus was lifted up on the cross, so that he might lift us up to glory!
May you, this Easter time, be drawn afresh to the Saviour, and may he lift you up.
Your brother in Christ,