Shelby G. Floyd
Good morning. We have a very good audience today. It is so good that more and more people are coming out for worship where we all can be together. I am glad to be able to speak to you today on the subject “Lifted Up.”
When Jesus came into this world the Jewish people were looking for a conquering hero who would restore the greatness of Israel and rule over the whole world. But it was not long until they realized that this was not going to happen, because as Jesus continued his ministry, they realized that he was going to die. In fact, he spoke to them several times and told him that he was going to be put to death and they could not believe it. They did not have any idea how the Messiah could be put to death. But Jesus told them over and over again, I am going to be put to death, but I will rise again and I will see you. And so, after he was put to death, they realized that the kingdom was not going to be a physical material kingdom. It would be a spiritual kingdom not of this world, it would be in this world, but it would not be of this world.
And so, the cross became the very center of the gospel message and I believe we need to exalt and mention and preach on the cross a lot more than we do. I do know that the apostle Paul exalted the cross of Jesus Christ. Everywhere that he went on his evangelistic journeys the cross was the center of his message. And in Galatians 6 and verse 14 he said,
“But God forbid that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, whom the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.”
The great apostle Paul looked upon himself as being crucified with Christ and to be raised with Christ, and he exalted the cross of Christ. He also said in Galatians 2, verse 20:
“I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.”
THREE TIMES JESUS PROPHECIED HE WOULD BE LIFTED UP ON THE CROSS
And those statements from the apostle Paul, are the very essence of what we need to be crying out ourselves! We were crucified with Christ, we live with Christ, and he is our Lord. Three times Jesus predicted that he would be lifted up. In the Old Testament book of Numbers chapter 21, God’s people had come out of Egypt, out of bondage and slavery. Now they were marching toward the promised land. And God gave them victory after victory. They had just won a great victory and then they marched on toward the promised land, but they did not have any water, and they did not have any food. So, they started murmuring and carping and criticizing the Lord and God did not like it at all.
Jesus Compared Moses Lifting Up the Serpent to Jesus Lifted Upon the Cross
The Lord brought serpents or snakes that bit them and they were dying and they cried out to the Lord! Oh Lord, save us. They did not repent of their attitude and rebellion. God told Moses to create a brazen serpent and you raise it up on a pole and then every person who has been bitten by a serpent or a snake when they look upon it, they will live and be okay. That is the cure. Now they had to look upon it, man had to do something, but what they did was not the creative power that would restore their health and overcome snakebites. It was God’s power, but Moses was his instrument in executing that power.
When we come to the third chapter of John, we have a man named Nicodemus who came to Jesus by night. He said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher from God. No man can do the things that you are doing, except God be with him. And Jesus said to him that unless a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God and so Nicodemus was told he had to be born again of a spiritual birth so he can enter a spiritual kingdom. Later in the conversation Jesus said,
“And 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. 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. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:14-18 NKJV).
There is the golden text of the Bible, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son,
that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Now there is a phrase that I want to emphasize in that reading” As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness so “the Son of Man…” Often we don’t realize that Jesus was not only the Son of God, but he was also “the Son of Man.” He had a human nature just like we do. He could be hungry and thirsty. He could feel pain and so they thought the Son of God could not be destroyed. But Jesus was not only God’s Son but he was also the Son of Man! Therefore, in Luke chapter 3, we can trace his genealogy back on his mother’s side all away to Adam! And in Matthew chapter 1 we can trace it back through his father’s side, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob! Therefore, Jesus was the Son of Man, in his fleshly nature, but he was also the Son of God in his eternal nature (cf. Romans 1:3-4). He therefore could do all kinds of miracles because he was the Son of God, but he also could be put to death and lifted up on a pole just like Moses lifted up the serpent, because he was the Son of Man! Therefore, let me emphasize that Jesus was the Son of Man. He was one of us. He joined the human family and lived and taught and worked and died.
Jesus Prophesied That When He Was Lifted Up, They Would Know That He Was Who He Claimed to Be
Now there is a second prediction that Jesus made that is rather brief. In John eight verse 28 Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, when you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and I do nothing of myself, but as my Father taught me, I speak these things” (John 8:28). He is the Son of Man, and he says, “when I am lifted up, then you will know that I do nothing myself but only what my father teaches me and exhorts me to do.”
Jesus Prophesied That When He Was Lifted Up, He Would Draw All People unto Himself
Next, we have the third prediction and the long context where Jesus again predicts that he is going to be lifted up, and he would also draw all people unto himself! Where is the power of the gospel? It is in the cross. It in the power of the cross that people are moved in their emotions, will, heart, and minds. Jesus said,
“Now is the judgment of this world and the ruler of this world will be cast out, and I if I am lifted up, will draw all peoples to myself. This, he said, signifying what death he would die. The people answered him, we have heard that the Christ lives forever and how can you say the Son of Man must be lifted up, who is the Son of Man” (John 12: 32-34).
Again, we have at the end of that verse “the Son of Man” mentioned. Who is the Son of Man? They had heard that the Christ lives forever and so they were having problems in her mind, not understanding how the Son of Man could be lifted up, put to death and then the Christ could live forever!
THE CHRIST WAS LIFTED UP IN THREE WAYS
Jesus Was Lifted Upon A Cross
That brings us to the fact that Christ was lifted up three ways. We have three passages that describe Christ would be lifted up three ways. First, Christ was lifted up on the cross. You cannot help but be moved when you go to the close of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and all of them describe how Jesus was defrauded of his justice. They lied and they trumped up charges against him, and finally because they did not have the power to put him to death, they used the Romans who did have the power of life and death. They had to maneuver, they had to work where they could get the Roman governor to allow Jesus to be put to death.
In Mark the 15th chapter, the Bible says,
“Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
35 Some of those who stood by, when they heard that, said, “Look, He is calling for Elijah!” 36 Then someone ran and filled a sponge full of sour wine, put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink, saying, “Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to take Him down.”
37 And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last” (Mark 15:33-37 NKJV).
And by the way, here we have an inspired translation, so you have no worry about anything as to whether it’s true or not, which is translated, “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” That shows us that Jesus had a human nature. He had a heavenly Father and he is innocent. He never committed any sin. He is innocent yet they raise him up on that cross and nailed those spikes through his tendons and through his feet, and he is bleeding and he is dying. He actually cried out “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me,” and some of them said “Let him alone, He is calling for Elijah, let us see if Elijah will come and save him.” And then the Bible says in verse 37, “And Jesus cried out with a loud voice and breathed his last.” My wife told me that she was with her dad when he died and she said he cried out with a really loud voice, and I remember telling her, that is the way that Jesus died. And right here is the confirmation that Jesus was lifted up on that cross just like he predicted when he said, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, the Son of Man must be lifted up,” so we have the fulfillment of Jesus own prediction.
Jesus Was Lifted Up from The Grave
Next, we give our attention to the fact that Jesus was lifted up from the grave. Now as I drive around by the graveyards and see all those gravestones and I know they have been in there for a long time, and not any have risen from a single grave, and they will not come up until the last day until Jesus cries out and the dead will be raised incorruptible!
In Mark 16:1-6 the Bible says,
“When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might come and anoint Him. And very early on the first day of the week, they *came to the tomb when the sun had risen. They were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone from the entrance of the tomb for us?” And looking up, they *noticed that the stone had been rolled away; for it was extremely large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed. But he *said to them, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; see, here is the place where they laid Him” (NASB).
Notice how accurate the Bible is: they saw a man with a long white robe sitting on the right side not the left side, but the right side. The Bible is so specific when it wants to be specific that you realize that God had to be the author and the one who inspired his people to record this event. But he said to them, do not be alarmed. This is the person that was clothed in the long white robe—he is speaking to these women and tells them to not be alarmed. You see, Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified. He is risen. He is not here—see the place where they laid him. But go tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you into Galilee, and there you will see him as he said to you.
Jesus Was Lifted Up into Heaven
We have seen that Jesus was lifted up on the cross, Jesus was lifted up from the grave and now he is going to be lifted up into heaven. The Bible closes out the brief book of Mark in these words,
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. The one who has believed and has been baptized will be saved; but the one who has not believed will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not harm them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed” (Mark 16:15-20 NASB).
Recently in my daily Bible reading I came across this passage and it fits right in with this message today. King David (and Jesus was the Son of David according to the flesh), prophesied in Psalm 24 Jesus ascending into heaven and entering in before the eternal throne:
Lift up your heads, O you gates!
And be lifted up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
The Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O you gates!
Lift up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
He is the King of glory. Selah
(Psalms 24:7-10 NKJV).
Therefore, when our Lord ascended into heaven He was welcomed by His Father and thousands of angels into everlasting Glory! Jesus went into heaven and was seated on the right hand of God.
THE MESSAGE OF THE CROSS
Now what is the message of the cross for us today. The message of the cross that Paul presented to the church at Corinth was direct and specific. Paul proclaimed to the church at Corinth, “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2 NKJV). Did Paul preach on anything else? Yes, but the cross was the very center and core of his message. He determined not to preach anything among them except Jesus Christ and him crucified. So that is the core of the gospel message.
The message of the cross is looked upon by the world today as barbaric foolishness and instead of the power of God, it is looked upon as a curse because in the Old Testament there is a passage that says, “Cursed is everyone hanging on a tree!” And Jesus took the curse, he was hanged on the tree and Paul says for the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. We look at the world today and they do not care about Christ’s death, and the resurrection.
Therefore, Paul says,
“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. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise, where is the scribe? Where is that disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world” (1 Corinthians 1:18-20 NKJV)?
At that time, the Grecians had their great philosophers such as Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates, but they were unable to raise people up by their bootstraps (philosophy). And they were very wise, but there was no power to change people’s lives. The cross can change people’s lives. Even though the world looks up on it as foolish and as a barbaric curse that is outmoded in our day and time, but to those who are called, Christ crucified on the cross is both the power and the wisdom of God.
In that day, the Jewish people as a whole rejected the cross and the Gentile people partially received and believed in the cross. Why? The Jews required a sign in order to believe. And the Greeks sought after wisdom, so both the Jew and the Greek stumbled because one wanted something to be really wise and the gospel to them did not seem to be wise and the Jews were constantly wanting a sign—a miracle to prove what they would believe. But what did Paul preach? He preached “Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks. Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (cf.1 Corinthians 1:22-24).
But today those of us who are Christians who believe in the cross, we have the power and the wisdom of God. Because we believe in Christ, and we believe Christ was crucified, it is the power and the wisdom of God and then we should glory in the cross of Christ. That is what Paul said in Galatians 6:14,
“But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (NKJV).
My friends, the cross of Calvary is our boast and glory. Let us never be ashamed of the cross. We have been crucified with Christ and we have been crucified to the world.
WHAT IS THE DRAWING POWER OF THE CROSS?
Now what is the drawing power of the cross and note the passage that we studied in John 12:32-34. We found out that Jesus will draw all men. Actually, all people, “I will draw all people unto myself.” Well, what is the motive, what is the power that Jesus has in the cross to draw all people? One is the goodness of God. The innocence of Christ. You know, our God is a forgiving God. I cannot get over the way in the history of the Jewish nation how they were constantly rebelling, disobeying God, and going after the false gods of the nations around them, worshiping idols and God would become angry with them and even punish them, but he could not stand to go very long without forgiving them and trying to bring them back. That is the kind of God we serve. If you mess up, he is not going to mark you off his list forever. There is always hope, he is always ready and willing and reaching out to forgive us and to bring us back into the fold. And so,
The Goodness of God and the Innocence of Christ Draws Us to Christ!
The apostle Peter later in his life before he was put to death said,
“For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:
“Who committed no sin,
Nor was deceit found in His mouth”;
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; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose [c]stripes you were healed (1 Peter 2:21-24 NKJV)?
By the way Peter uses the word tree there instead of the word cross. What is it that draws people to Christ? It is futile to wrap our life completely up in this world because our history here is so brief. Life only makes sense when we live for that which is eternal.
The Power of Sacrifice Draws us to Christ
The golden text in the Bible is good. Children learn and quote this verse from the time that they go to Sunday school:
“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” (John 3:16-17).
The Power of Love Draws us to Christ
“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8).
EXAMPLES OF THOSE WHO WERE DRAWN TO CHRIST
Jesus said I will draw all men—all people to myself. When we come to the book of Acts, chapter two, we have the birthday of the kingdom of God—the birthday of the church. 3000 people cried out and asked, “men and brethren, what shall we do?” Why did they ask that question? Peter had just convicted the audience of being guilty of crucifying Jesus and he proved to them that they had done a terrible thing. Peter gave a brief answer,
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:28-39 NKJV). And in the last verse the Bible declares, “the Lord added to the church daily such as were being saved” (Acts 2:47). 3000 sinners were saved and became members of the church. They were the initial nucleus of the church.
The Ethiopian Treasurer
As we start going through the book of Acts, we have an Ethiopian that had come to Jerusalem to worship, he was returning home sitting in his chariot. He was the treasurer are of Queen Candace of Ethiopia and he was reading Isaiah the 53rd chapter. A preacher happened to come along in the providence of God, he heard the man reading Isaiah 53 and he asked him if he understood what he was reading. Just because I do not understand something, does not mean nobody understands it! I learned early in life that when you run across a problem in the Bible and you do not understand it and several people do not know the answer, does not mean nobody knows answer. There are smart people in the world and if we examine and seek the truth, eventually we will find out the truth. And so, he asked him do you understand what you are reading? And he answered, how can I except some man should guide me? And they came to a certain water and again he asked if anything was hindering him from being baptized. He made the good confession that Jesus is the Christ and they went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch and he baptized him and when he came up out of the water the Spirit caught away Philip and the eunuch went on his way rejoicing. I challenge you to find anybody in the New Testament that ever rejoiced until after they were baptized.
Cornelius a Roman Soldier
In the 10th chapter of Acts, we have Cornelius a Roman soldier who is a centurion—he is a over 100 soldiers. He is quite powerful. He has servers that wait on him and he is a godly Gentile Roman soldier. In fact, he was so good that the Jews said he is really a good man for he helped us build a synagogue. That is the kind of man he was. He was reaching out to the Jewish people and he had a vision and, in that vision, he saw a man coming to him and preaching the word of God. Immediately after that vision he sent two of his servants and a soldier down to where Peter was to invite him to come and speak to him.
Peter had a vision at noon while the women were preparing dinner, and the vision told him some men were coming to meet him and that he should welcome them. It was about noon and he is up on the roof. They had flat roofs back then. While he is praying there is somebody knocking on the gate. He gets up and goes down and they are inquiring about Simon Peter. I am Simon Peter, and why have you come here and they relate to him what Cornelius had experienced back at Caesarea. Peter invited them in and that was something that Jews did not do. They would not invite Gentiles into their house. They stayed overnight. The next day they started back toward Caesarea and Peter did not want to get in trouble with his fellow Jews, so he took six of his Jewish brethren with him. They would be his witnesses as to what happened.
When they arrived, they were all waiting for him? Cornelius had called his family and close friends into his home for Bible study and preaching. When Peter walked in he asked why have you called for me, why have you invited me here? Cornelius rehearsed to him what had happened and how God had told him to send for Peter and he would tell him words whereby he and his household would be saved. Peter begins his sermon by pointing out that God is no respecter of persons, but in every nation he that fear God and works righteousness is accepted.
And as he continues to preach about the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, suddenly Peter’s sermon is interrupted. I have had my sermon interrupted before and it really throws you off, his speech was interrupted because the Holy Spirit in a baptismal measure came down on the household of Cornelius. When it was over, Peter continued his sermon right where he left off. The last thing that he had said was forgiveness based on faith. Now to those people who believe you are saved by faith only; we are going to leave you right where Peter’s sermon was interrupted! But Peter did not stop there. After the interruption was over, Peter said “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Spirit as well as we” (Acts 10:47-48)? Peter brought water into the message again and Cornelius’s believing family were baptized. There is water in the scheme of redemption.
Lydia, the Business Woman
I relate to you another conversion of Lydia in Acts 16. Lydia went out by the riverside in Philippi to have a prayer meeting. Paul would go out there and study the scriptures with these women, and finally Lydia and her household were baptized. They were the charter members of the Philippian church. And while Paul and Silas were in Philippi, they stirred up a hornet’s nest. Some citizens were making a living from making little idols to worship. They had a fit because if you believe in God and Jesus, you are not going to buy thee little idols and put them around in your house everywhere. They were losing their business! They were ready to stone Paul and Silas. They had them arrested and put in the Philippian jail. The Bible says they beat them and fastened their feet in the stocks and they were put in the inner prison!
The Jailor of Philippi
But God does not fail his people and his preachers at midnight. There was a great earthquake, and the jailer, realizing as a Roman jailer he was responsible for the prisoner drew his sword and was about to take his own life. And Paul cried out, do yourself no harm for we all here, we are not trying to escape. The jailer sprang in trembling and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved, and your house.” (Acts 16:30-31). Then they spoke the word of the Lord to them so they would know what to believe (Acts 16:32). And obviously they spoke to the jailor about baptism because, the scripture says “he (the jailor) took them (Paul and Silas) the same hour of the night and washed their stripes; and was baptized, and all his, straightway” (Acts 16:33 KJV).
You my friends have been given some specific examples of how in the New Testament times people were drawn to Jesus. Jesus said, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men to myself.” My friends let the Lord Jesus draw you to him. Respond today before it is everlastingly too late!
*Copyright © 2021 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved
Shelby G. Floyd delivered the essence of this sermon March 7, 2021 at the Heartland Church of Christ, 1693 West Main Street, Greenwood, Indiana 46142.