28 Father, glorify your name!”
Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.
30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.
34 The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Messiah will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?”
35 Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. 36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.
I know that we have read and studied a good portion of this chapter already, but some of the passages have had overlap, and this is one of them. I really wanted to focus on these verses again, so I hope you will bear with me.
One of our family is studying in eastern Europe, and has rekindled our interest in some of the countries there, and the history that they embody. You may recall (if you are as old as me) that in the 1980's the government of Polish Prime Minister Jaruzelski declared martial law in an attempt to crush the freedom seekers, the Solidarity Movement. Jaruzelski's government also ordered that crucifixes be removed from classroom walls, just the same as they'd been banned in factories, hospitals, and other public institutions. Catholic bishops attacked the ban that had stirred waves of resentment and anger across the country. The government relented, leaving the law on the books, but agreeing not to press for removal of the crosses -- especially in the school rooms.
Chuck Colson's book, Kingdoms in Conflict, relates the rest of the story:
But one zealous Communist school administrator in Garwolin decided that the
law was the law. So one evening he had seven large crucifixes removed from
lecture halls where they had hung since the school’s founding in the twenties.
Days later, a group of parents entered the school and hung more crosses. The
administrator promptly had these taken down as well.
The next day two-thirds of the school’s six hundred students staged a sit-in. When
heavily armed riot police arrived, the students were forced into the streets. Then
they marched, crucifixes held high, to a nearby church where they were joined by
twenty-five hundred other students from nearby schools for a morning of prayer in
support of the protest. Soldiers surrounded the church. But the pictures from inside
of students holding crosses high above their heads flashed around the world. So did
the words of the priest who delivered the message to the weeping congregation that
morning. "There is no Poland without a cross."
Here in the US, we are following the same path as the government of Poland -- we have removed prayer from our schools and any public gathering; we have removed the ten commandments from our buildings; we have taken down crosses from public buildings.
The cross and Jesus being lifted up are the focus of our studies this week. Jesus' words, "if I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto me" are fulfilled in the hearts and lives of women and men everywhere.
Remember this verse in the third chapter of John?
"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."
We discussed the Old Testament background, from the twenty-first chapter of Numbers. The people were speaking against God, and against Moses, "our soul loatheth this vile bread." Wow! Pretty strong words about the manna that was miraculously provided by God, and which was sustaining them in the wilderness.
In the same way, the Jews in Christ's day were speaking in much the same way about the Bread of heaven which God had sent to them . . . the most precious gift of His Son . . . and they seemed to be saying, "we hate this Man!" in much the same way that the children of Israel hated the manna.
Recall how God saw the spirit of the people in Numbers, and sent serpents among the people. Then Moses was instructed to raise a serpent on his staff, and the people could look to that and receive healing. This serpent lifted up in the wilderness was the symbol of the judgment of God. The judgment and curse of God which rested upon the rebellious people were transferred to that serpent. It was transfixed to the cross, carrying the curse and the judgment of God upon itself for the people, and whosoever looked to the serpent was saved.
In using that bit of the Old Testament, the Lord Jesus was only saying: 'I am going to be made a curse for you. When I am lifted up I shall bear YOUR judgment upon Myself. I shall carry YOUR sins in My body on the tree.' There is deliverance in Christ crucified from the curse and from the judgment, and whosoever will look shall live.
We'll study more about when He is lifted up, next time.