John 12:31-33 (NIV)
“Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 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.
Jesus had just received comfort and reassurance from God that He was on the right track, and directly in the center of His will. Other things were already starting to drop in importance in His sight. His life was even then being stripped down to essentials.
One of those essentials was that His death on the cross would be the cause of judgment on the world. From that moment all of humanity would be divided into two, and only two, groups: those who trust in Jesus for salvation, and those who don’t. Those who trust in Him will experience both salvation and eternal life. Those who don’t, who trust in someone or something else, or who simply refuse to submit to His lordship in their lives, will experience judgment and eternal condemnation.
The second essential was that His death on the cross would be the ultimate nail in satan’s coffin. Up to this time, satan had had the run of the world, creating havoc, leading people astray, and even accusing the people of God. But when Jesus died on the cross and rose again, satan’s power and his ability to accuse would be stripped away, at least as far as the people of God were concerned. Instead, his ultimate doom would be solidly sealed. Events leading to that doom would still have to play out, but his fate, his condemnation to suffer eternally in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10) would be a done deal with no escape for him possible.
The third essential was that His death on the cross would enable all people to be drawn to Him. Prior to the cross (John 6:44), Jesus stated that “no one can come to Me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day.” But when he looked forward to His death on the cross, He could already see that the gates to the kingdom would be open to all people – they would all be drawn to Him, and whoever responds in faith and surrender will be saved. (John 3:16)
Jesus also clearly indicated by these words the kind of death He would soon die. The words “lifted up from the earth” communicated clearly the concept of crucifixion to the people of the day (Also see John 3:14 and 8:28.) But He could also see that being lifted up on the cross was only going to be a prelude to being lifted up clear into heaven, and then being lifted up, exalted by the people of the world, people from every nation, and tribe, and people, and language (Revelation 7:9).
Father, this illuminates another passage, that it was for the joy that was set before Him that Jesus “endured the cross, scorning its shame” (Hebrews 12:2). Help me, Lord, every day, to look past the trials and pains of this world, of this life, to the joys that await me in Your presence forever, so that I can persevere, overcome, and gain the victory. Amen.
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