Shelby G. Floyd
John 12: 32-34
32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” 33 This He said, signifying by what death He would die.
34 The people answered Him, “We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; and how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?”
This is the time of the year that the religious world thinks about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They call this past Friday, Good Friday, for it is believed that is the day He died upon the cross. Today (Sunday) was the day that Christ was raised from the dead after He had been in the grave for three days and three nights. The Jews counted part of a day, or part of a night, as an entire day in their system of numbering things. So that is how we reconcile the alleged discrepancy. Out of all of the events in the Bible the Passover and the Day of Pentecost are about the only two that we can pinpoint on our calendar today.
I think it is wonderful that this is exactly the time of the year that Jesus arose from the dead and it coincides with our season of Spring. Everything is being resurrected to life right now, and even that is beautiful in itself. Christ arose at the time of year that everything else is coming to life and that symbolizes that He is the way, the truth and the life. The other event is the day of Pentecost. It always occurred 50 days after the Passover, and so you can count 50 days from today and Pentecost Sunday is the day that the church started in Acts 2. On that day 3,000 people became Christians by repenting of their sins and being baptized for the remission of sins. Those are the two events we can accurately define in our calendar.
In the Bible, Paul and the early Christian gloried in the Cross of Jesus Christ. To the Galatians, Paul said,
“May I never boast except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14).
Christian people like us ought to glory and boast about the Cross of Jesus Christ. That is where the glory is. We glory in the death of Christ on the cross, because that was God’s sacrifice for our sins. To the Corinthian’s, Paul said, “For the message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the Power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). In all of the specials you see on TV, a lot of people are deriding the cross. A lot of people deny the cross. To those of us who are being saved it is the wisdom and power of God, but to everybody else it is foolishness. In 1 Corinthians 2:2, Paul said, “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” I also resolve to know nothing, except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
CHRIST PROPHECIES HIS DEATH
Today, I want to talk to you about the Drawing Power of the Cross of Jesus Christ:
“But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself. He said this to show the kind of death He was going to die” (John 12:32-33).
Jesus promised that He would draw all men to himself because of the way that He died upon the cross. While Jesus was living, He made predictions and prophesies about His own death. Sometimes people will prophesy and predict their own death, but they sometimes are not accurate as to when it may occur. Jesus knew that He was going to die and told those who were close to Him when and how it was going to happen. Jesus said, “He would be lifted up.” We lifted up Jesus today in praise. We thank our song leader for the good job he did in leading the song service today. We commend all of you for the way you join in, and we have a great period of praise in worship and song. We can lift up our Lord Jesus Christ in praise and in worship. Jesus was not necessarily talking about that when He said, “I will be lifted up.” He was lifted up for sinners like us to have eternal life. For instance, in John 3:14-15, Jesus said, “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.”
Christ Was Lifted Up For Sinners to Have Eternal Life
When you go back to the book of Numbers, you can read about Moses lifting up the snake, the serpent. God’s people had rebelled. They had sinned against Moses and the Lord. God sent fiery serpents in among them to bite them and to create death. They cried out for the Lord to save them. We always cry out to God when we are in trouble, when we can’t do anything to help ourselves. They cried out, “Moses, appeal to the Lord that he may save us from these fiery serpents.” Moses created a brazen serpent and put it upon a standard, or a pole. The command was for everyone to look upon that brazen serpent and be saved from the consequences of the serpents that had bitten them. They had to do something. They had to have faith in what God said. They had to have faith and obey what He told them to do. Those who did so were saved. So Jesus comes along and He says, “The brazen serpent that Moses raised up in the wilderness was a type of what is going to happen to me. I am going to be lifted up on a standard, on a pole, on a tree, just like Moses lifted up that serpent in the wilderness.” He further said, “The Son of Man must be lifted up that everyone who believes Him will have eternal life.” Do you believe that? That is the power of the gospel. If you believe that Jesus died for your sins then that is one of the requirements to have eternal life. So Jesus was lifted up on the cross, to die on the cross, so that we might have eternal life. If we would but believe He is God’s son, the Son of Man, who became the Son of God in order to save us from our sins.
Christ Was Lifted Up To Prove He Was the Son of God
Secondly, Jesus was lifted up on the Cross to prove that He was the Son of God. In John 8:28, Jesus said,
“When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be, and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.”
Jesus, over and over again, claimed to be the Son of God, but very few people believed Him. The people who put Him to death did not believe Him. The Romans did not believe Him. Many of the Jews did not believe Him. The Disciples and those He had been with and taught, who humbled themselves, and who believed the Word of God were ready to believe what Jesus said. So He said, “This will prove that I am who I claim to be. I claim to be not only the Son of Man, but the Son of God.” Romans 1:4, says that Jesus is the Son of David according to the flesh and that He was proved to be the Son of God according to the spirit of holiness by the power of the resurrection. That is how that proposition was proved by His death upon the cross.
Christ Was Lifted Up To Draw All Men unto Himself
In the third place, Jesus was lifted up in order to draw all men unto Him. In John 12:32-34, we read,
“But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die. The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?”
They asked the question, who is the Son of Man, and who is the Son of God? Jesus said, “I am going to be lifted up to prove to you that I am the Son of God and that I will draw all men unto myself.” Now we pointed out the predictions that Jesus made, that He would be lifted up on the cross. He was lifted up so we can have eternal life. He was lifted up to prove that He was the Son of God. He was lifted up in order to draw, as a great magnet, everybody to Him for eternal life.
THREE WAYS CHRIST HAS BEEN LIFTED UP
Now I want to point out to you in the next place three ways in which Jesus has been lifted up. We are just going to read the Bible because we will let the Bible speak for itself.
1. Christ Was Lifted Up On The Cross
Christ was lifted up on the cross, which is the first and most immediate way He was lifted up. If you have your Bibles you can turn with me to Mark 15:21-25:
21 Then they compelled a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus, as he was coming out of the country and passing by, to bear His cross. 22 And they brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull. 23 Then they gave Him wine mingled with myrrh to drink, but He did not take it. 24 And when they crucified Him, they divided His garments, casting lots for them to determine what every man should take.
25 Now it was the third hour, and they crucified Him.
My wife told me that when her Dad died, she was in the room and she said, “He cried out in a loud voice.” I remember the reply I gave her, “That is what the Lord did when He died upon the cross.” The Bible says, “He cried out in a loud voice.” The Bible says, “He breathed His last.” Jesus was lifted up on the cross!
2. Christ Was Lifted Up From the Grave
Jesus was lifted up on that cross, and there is power in the cross. You know if Jesus had just been lifted up on the cross, and that was the end of it, where would the power be? There wouldn’t be any power in just a dead Savior. So I suggest to you in the second place, Jesus was lifted up from the grave, and we read about that in Mark 16:1-7:
“When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, ‘Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?’
But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. Don’t be alarmed, he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”
Jesus was resurrected on the third day and they found an empty tomb. Jesus had been raised from the dead.
3. Christ Was Lifted Up To Heaven
In the third place, Jesus was not only lifted up on the cross, and lifted up from the grave, but He was also lifted up to Heaven? We read this in the remainder of Mark 16: 15-20:
“Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.
He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.’
After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.”
Here we have the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is how He was lifted up. He was lifted up on the cross, and He was lifted up from the grave. He was lifted up to Heaven itself, where He was seated on the right hand of God, and where He now reigns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
WHAT IS THE DRAWING POWER OF THE CROSS?
That brings us to the next point and that is when Jesus said, “If I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This He said, signifying what death He should die”(John 12:32-33). What is the drawing power of the cross? What is the magnetic power of the Cross of Calvary that causes people like us to believe in Him as the divine Son of God, and to worship Him and the Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit every Sunday throughout the year? What is the drawing power of the cross?
The Innocence of Christ Draws Us
I suggest to you that the innocence of Christ is a drawing power of the cross. You know sometimes people are put to death who are wicked and evil criminals, and even that is a sad picture to see. But when we see an innocent person, who is not guilty of even one wrong thing, crucified in such a horrible manner, there is that power that attracts us to them. We love Him because He suffered and died an innocent victim because He loved us so much. The apostle Peter said to his readers,
“21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:
22 “Who committed no sin,
Nor was deceit found in His mouth”;
23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls”
(1 Peter 2:21-25 NKJV).
How are we drawn to the cross of Christ? Because He was innocent we are drawn to Him. God sent his beloved Son down to die for us and He never did one thing wrong. He was the perfect human being, the only one that ever lived. Our brothers and sisters in the human family put Him to death on the cross. It was part of God’s plan. That is how we are drawn to the cross and to Christ.
The Power of Sacrifice Draws Us
Secondly, the power of sacrifice draws us to Christ. You know God anticipated all of this down through the ages. There is a great incline, or chute, all the way from Abel down to the cross of Calvary. That great incline is filled with blood. It is filled with the blood of the lambs and the bulls and the goats. Thousands of them, millions of them, were slaughtered and their blood shed since the beginning of time. All of that was a type. It was a shadow. It was something to cause us to see that it was simply pointing to the real sacrifice, which would be Christ on the cross, and the shedding of His blood. The Bible says that there can be no remission of sins without a blood sacrifice. “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22). Therefore, all of the blood that was shed from Abel down to the sacrifice of the Last Supper, pointed to the shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ on Calvary: Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! –John the Baptist
That is the reason in John 3:16-17, Jesus said, “16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” So there is great power to draw us to Christ because of the sacrifice and the shedding of blood on Calvary.
The Love of God Draws Us
In the third place, the power of the Cross that draws us to Christ is in the love of God. The Bible says, “Herein his love, not that we love God, but He loved us.” We love Him because He first loved us. Love begets love, and hate begets hate. God used the sweet honey of His love to draw us to the cross. All through the ages of the Mosaic and the period of Patriarchs, God tried to get people to serve Him. They wouldn’t do it very long. There is something about the power of the Cross of Calvary that causes us to love God and want to show our gratitude for what He has done for us by loving Christ, by serving Him, and obeying His word. So we read in Romans 5:6-8,
“6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
So what is the drawing power of the cross? It is the innocent victim, Jesus Christ, dying for the guilty. Two, it is the power of His sacrifice. He is the Lamb of God that would take away the sin of the world; and three, it is the power of God’s love. He loved us so much that He sent his only and unique Son Jesus Christ to die for us.
CHRIST DRAWS ALL PEOPLE UNTO HIMSELF
Now let’s go back to our text in John 12:32-33, “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself. He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.” Christ draws all men from all walks of life. That does not mean that there is going to be universal salvation. It doesn’t mean that all men are going to be saved. “All men” here has the meaning that He draws people from all walks of life. When you go back to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, you see that Jesus invited fishermen, tax collectors, farmers, political people, and soldiers; and when you come to the Book of Acts, we find that all kinds of people believed the Gospel and became members of the Lord’s church. We have a Jailer in Acts 16, and a business woman, Lydia, that obeyed the Gospel. We have the Samaritan people, we have people in Rome, and the Bible says that Paul was able to convert people, even in the Praetorian Guard, the unique guard of the Caesars. He was able to draw people from all walks of life. Even today the Lord Jesus Christ is drawing people from all walks of life, the poor and the rich, the educated and the uneducated, the people in high positions of power, and the people who are weak. The Gospel appeals to all, and the Gospel is for all people. During His personal ministry He drew all people to himself. Today, through the ministry of those who are preachers of the Gospel and through members of the Church, we are reaching out to bring all kinds of people to Jesus Christ. I hope every one of you, when you leave this morning, will go back to the table and pick up four or five of those little cards and write your name on them, and send them to somebody and invite them to come and hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you will do that by Mother’s Day, we will have this auditorium overflowing and possibly have to set chairs around the perimeter. Let’s all work to that end because we want to be a part of that ministry of drawing all people to Jesus Christ.
I want to read a little statement that was made years ago, and we don’t know who the author is, but I think it well sums up the drawing power of the Cross of Jesus Christ:
“Here is a man, who was born in an obscure village and that a despised one. He worked in a carpenter shop for thirty years and for three years he was an itinerant preacher. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never owned a home. He never had a family. He never went to College. He never put His foot inside of a really big city. He never traveled except in his infancy 200 miles from where he was born. He had no credentials but himself.
While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against Him. His friends ran away. One of them betrayed Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon the cross between two thieves. His executioners gambled for the only piece of property that he had on earth, his seamless robe. When He was dead, He was taken down from the cross and laid in a borrowed tomb through the courtesy of a friend. Twenty centuries have come and gone, and today Jesus is the centerpiece of the human race and the leader of all human progress.
I am well within the mark, when I say that all of the Armies that ever marched, all of the Navies that were ever built, and all of the Parliaments that were ever set, and all of the Kings that ever ruled, put together, have not effected the life of man upon this earth like this one solitary personality.
All time dates from His birth and it is impossible to understand or interpret the progress of human civilization in any nation on earth apart from His influence. Slowly through the ages man is coming to realize that the greatest necessity of this world is not water, iron, gold, food, clothing or even nitrate in the soil; but rather Christ enshrined in human hearts, thoughts and motives.”
That well sums up the power of Jesus Christ and the cross of Calvary that draws us to Him.
Today, Christianity is under attack. Even the fact that Christianity is under attack points up to the Power of the Cross. Why would people be attacking the cross and Christ, and the Salvation that is preached in His name, if it were not true? If it was a hoax, if it was a fable, a fairy tale, people could just leave it alone and it would die of itself. The very fact that people are fighting the cross so much is proof that it has great power. You do not fight something that is weak. You fight something that is powerful. So I take that as a mark of its authenticity and power that not only are people drawn to the cross, by the power of the cross, but people are also drawn to the cross because they hate the cross. They hate Christ.
There are people who do not want anybody to tell them how to live, or what they should do, or what they should believe. They are not going to bow down to the Sovereign Lord God, and that within itself shows the power of the gospel. If we don’t bow our knee and confess the Lord Jesus Christ, own Him as our Savior and obey His Word, we are going to do it one of these days to our own destruction and shame. The Bible teaches in Romans 14:11, “It is written: ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God’.”
One of these days every human being who lives on this earth will bow their knee and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and God is His Father. In Philippians 2, Paul talked about the humiliation of Christ and his death on the cross and then he said: “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in Heaven and on earth, and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the Glory of God the Father.” So we are both going to humble ourselves, bow our knees, and confess Jesus now, or we are going to do it out of shame and destruction at the last day. I am thankful that I have done that in this life time, and I know you are too. Our job is to try to get other people to do the same thing. One of the songs we sung this morning has these words, “Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord.” One of the verses is a quotation from the servant James, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:10). Like Jesus, if we humble ourselves, he will lift us up from the grave and up into heaven.
We have been talking this morning about Jesus being lifted up on the cross, lifted up from the grave, and lifted up into heaven. James said, “If we will just humble ourselves the Lord will lift us up.” He is going to lift us up from the grave. The Bible teaches that. “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned” (John 5:28-29). We are all going to be lifted up from the grave. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul said,
“Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.”
We are going to be lifted up into the sky with the Lord. We will be lifted up to be with the Lord in heaven. That is the reason Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3).
Do you want to go to heaven to be with the Lord? He is drawing people today. His arms are outstretched. He is reaching out to people like us. He is saying “Come unto me all of you that labor and are heavy laden. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me for I am meek and lowly in heart and you shall find rest unto you souls” (Matthew 11:28-29). What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? What is your profit today? Will you let the Lord draw you? Will you believe the words Jesus said, “If I be lifted up from the earth I will draw all men unto me.” He wants to draw you today. Let the power of the Gospel, let power of the Cross, and let the power of Christ draw you to Him and to eternal life. Will you respond? *
© 2007 2018 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved
*Shelby G. Floyd delivered this sermon April 8, 2007, and October 21, 2018, at the Heartland Church of Christ, 1693 West Main Street, Greenwood, Indiana 46142.