Summary: Christ has been lifted high for us.

Lifting high Jesus…

Pastor Richard Abernathy

John 12:32

I was sitting in a devotional meeting the other day listening to a rather dispassionate preacher. This man was trying to make the point that if we, as professing Christians, would simply come together, in Jesus’ name, we could forget about the doctrinal differences that divide us, and happily co-exist together in some happy, touchy-feely kind of Christianity. Now I know this man. I know how he thinks. I’ve heard him on numerous occasions, and I’ve not liked what I’ve heard.

Here we are, in the midst of the Lenten season. This is a time when, historically speaking, Christians spend some time contemplating what our lives are all about. We’re supposed to be taking inventory, we’re supposed to be confessing our sins, we’re supposed to be actively involved in repenting of our sins.

I suppose for some this season simply is the forty days between Ash Wednesday and Resurrection Sunday. For churchmen it’s a time to think about special sermons, ordering the palms to celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry, figuring out the logistics of when and where all those special holy week services will be held, and where we’ll put all those CE Christians. (CE Christians are Christmas and Easter attenders)

But, I really think and believe that this season is about so much more than those considerations. It’s really all about Jesus. It’s really all about lifting Him high.

John 12:32 says, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” This is Jesus talking. The Greek word for “lifted” is hupsoo which means, “to elevate (literally or figuratively) to exalt. And you just can’t lift Jesus high, you can’t exalt Him if you’d don’t exalt His Word and believe every part of His Word to be divinely inspired communication from the Creator to his creation.

In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 the Apostle Paul reminds us of the God-breathed quality of Scripture: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” You’ll notice that Paul doesn’t say, “some Scripture…” he is very clear in saying “All Scripture…”

The touchy-feely segment of Christendom that so often emphasizes the love of Christ over His holiness and righteousness doesn’t want to lift high Christ, they want to lift high the “church.” They want to exalt the desires of the creature instead of the glories of the Creator. As a result the Gospel becomes a watered down exercise in inclusiveness instead of a genuine desire to see Christ lifted high.

If Christ is lifted high, then His Word will also be exalted, and it will be recognized as the only authority for our faith, and for the practice of our faith. If Christ is lifted high in our lives then people will cease to see us, and instead will see the reflection of Christ in our lives.

Yes, doctrinal differences do separate us, and for good reason. Not everyone who goes to church is a Christian. Jesus Himself said, “Not everyone who says to Me, `Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven…” (Matthew 7:21) You really cannot be a Christian and at the same time take a scissors to the Bible to cut out what you don’t like. You cannot lift Christ high while telling the world that sin and sinful lifestyle choices are okay.

While I was sitting in that devotional meeting, listening to that preacher talk about lifting Jesus high, I was thinking about how he advocates homosexual marriage, about how he doesn’t believe in the Genesis account of creation, about how he believes and teaches that the grace of Christ is imputed to anyone who is baptized and receives communion. This man’s vision of lifting Christ high is composed of elevating mankind, it’s all about affirming sinful choices, and denying the immutability of our God.

When we lift Christ high in our lives, we live for Jesus. We literally breathe the fresh air of the Gospel, we live lives where repentance of our sins is a regular discipline, and our passion is to see Christ enter into hearts and change lives. Lifting Christ high isn’t about breathing the acrid and smoke filled air that wafts up from the pit of hell. Lifting Christ high isn’t about believing only the “nice” things about the Gospel and the love of God, and forgetting that our God is a God of holiness and righteousness. Lifting high Christ isn’t about taking a scissors to the parts of the Bible that we don’t particularly like.

Lifting Christ high is about recognizing that our God is changeless. The writer of Hebrews put it this way, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) Lifting Christ high is about understanding that His love has always been for us, and that He’s made a way for us to experience righteousness through the precious blood of the Lamb. Lifting Christ high is about doing “…whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him…and whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord…” (Colossians 3:17, 23) Lifting Christ high is about exalting Him.

There’s a promise here, too. At the tail end of John 12:32 that tells us that as Christ is lifted high that He will “…draw all peoples to Myself”

Jesus is inviting all of humanity to look to the Cross and live. Lifting Christ high isn’t only about how we live our lives, it’s about how He lived His, and about how He gave His life for you and for me. In the greater context of the passage Jesus is in the middle of a discourse on his impending death and what that death means. And, in His death He drew mankind, believing mankind, into a special relationship with Him where His righteousness has been imputed or given to us.

The cross reminds us of our sin. Christ when He was lifted onto the cross paid the penalty of that sin, forever erasing it. Today He continues to draw humanity to Himself. If mankind were not guilty of sin, then there wouldn’t have been a need for the sacrifice.

Yes, Christ was lifted high for us. Now we need to lift Him high, exalting Him, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. (John 14:6)