This Week's Focus Passage

And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto myself

Focus Passage: John 12:32

‘And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto myself.’

This passage is to be found among the last utterances of Christ spoken to the general gatherings; i.e. the multitudes. After these declarations recorded in the twelfth chapter, John takes us, in chapter thirteen, up into the upper room where Jesus was to celebrate the feast of the Passover with His twelve disciples. It is in this place and at this time we are, through the Holy Spirit’s use of the pen of the apostle John, granted to witness one of the most memorable scenes recorded in the gospel narratives, as Christ laid aside His garments, took a towel with which He girded Himself, poured water into a basin, and began to wash the feet of His disciples. This action on the part of the Savior was something of a preliminary to the ‘farewell discourse’—as it is often termed—that was to fall from His lips for the ears only of His twelve, or we should say, for the eleven because Christ had dismissed Judas before He began His actual discourse. Therefore the teachings of our Lord which are recorded in the twelfth chapter of John are the last words, as far as we know, to the general multitude before this ‘farewell discourse’ of our Lord Jesus Christ. His disciples, of course, were among that multitude and heard Jesus pronounce these very words as He anticipated His passion:

Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto myself. But this he said, signifying by what manner of death he should die. —John 12:31-33

Of course, those who are among the number of which we read in Isaiah, chapter six, those whose ears are heavy and whose eyes are shut, they cannot receive the truth of the Word of God. They cannot accept that Jesus Christ is God. Therefore, they cannot believe that He knew aforehand the manner of His death. But He did. He spoke of His being lifted up from the earth. This was clearly a representation of the form of execution employed by the Roman government.

Jesus had previously spoken of this fact regarding His death. He would not be stoned to death in the manner of Jewish execution such as that experienced by the ‘proto-martyr’ Stephen, but He was to be ‘lifted up.’ He referenced this truth early in His ministry. It has been recorded, in the third chapter of John, as He alluded to an incident from Numbers 21:9. Referring to that occasion, He said,

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth may in him have eternal life. —John 3:14-15

Again in John 8:28, Christ made reference to this anticipated reality, saying to the Jews in the hearing of His voice;

When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself, but as the Father taught me, I speak these things.

So now in our focus passage, John 12:32, a particular motive or reason is given as to why He will be lifted up from the earth; that He might—and will—draw all men unto Himself. It is through His cross that He will indeed draw all men unto Himself. It is through His atoning death at Golgotha that all men will be drawn unto Him for the salvation of their souls. The ‘all men’ is qualified in the allusion to the serpent of brass in the wilderness; the serpent that was made by Moses and fixed upon a pole that it might be lifted up to the view of the many who had been stung by the fiery serpents sent among the people by Jehovah because of their having grown weary of the manna that He had given them, and their incessant speaking against Him and His servant Moses. The brass serpent was appointed as a remedy for the stings inflicted upon the murmurers; it was to be lifted up on a pole before the view of all these people. However, we discover in Numbers 21:9 that it was for those only who had been bitten and, furthermore, for those who looked unto the serpent of brass. All those men who looked to the remedy were healed; they were the ‘all men’ who were drawn to look. They were the ‘all men’ that, because they looked, they lived.

Is this not the very same point that Christ has made in His allusion to this Old Testament narrative? Even as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness that whosoever looked would be healed, even so when Christ has been lifted up, whosoever looks [believeth] will be healed [may in him have eternal life]. The folk in the wilderness were stung by the serpents sent by Jehovah. This very aptly types several things that God has appointed in order to bring men to repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, namely the law and the gospel applied to the conscience by the Holy Spirit. Does the sting of the serpent in Num. 21 not represent to us quite profoundly the sting of the law? Did it not portend the death of the murmurer unless he looked to the remedy? Has Paul not taught us that the sting of death is sin; and the power of sin is the law? These people had sinned when they spoke against God; they dishonored Him and brought reproach upon the name of Jehovah by their lack of trust in Him. They had either implicitly or expressly taken the name of God in vain. But thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Christ has been lifted up from the earth and He will draw sinners unto Himself. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else is what Jesus was saying as He spoke of His being lifted up. These are the very words that were preached to a young man named Charles Spurgeon and used by God the Holy Spirit to bring that sinner to Himself. Christ lifted up drew him to the Savior of the World.

David Farmer, elder,

Fellowship Bible Church


Join us Sunday at