What does it mean when Jesus talks about being lifted up? How does it relate to judgment?
30 Jesus answered and said, “ This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes. 31 Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” 33 But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die. 34 The crowd then answered Him, “We have heard out of the Law that the Christ is to remain forever; and how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?” 35 So Jesus said to them, “ For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. 36 While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.”
Previously, the people mentioned an angel has spoken to him, indicating that Jesus received some sort of divine insight from God in verse 28. Here, Jesus explains the purpose in verse 30. We see Jesus constantly in prayer and conversation with God, but don’t ever hear it. Suddenly God speaks out loud in front of the crowd (just as we saw when He was baptized). You see, it wasn’t for Jesus’ sake that God spoke in a voice that others would hear, but rather so that others would know the Truth of God.
Usually, we tend to see the word “judgment,” especially in biblical context, to mean a negative occurrence. Here, the connotation is quite the contrary. Many times in the bible, we see a statement, then a clarification that follows. Jesus declares the coming judgment upon the world and then explains what He means.
The “ruler of this world” is sin, satan, evil, “the enemy” (to throw out biblical terms we all identify with). This ruler will be cast out. It’s power will no longer rule over the world. How will this happen, by Jesus being lifted up on the cross. This connotation, we sometimes infer other meanings, however the original usage of this language specifically identified with crucifixion, a common practice at that time. We also see this foretold earlier in John when he relates the effect with the serpent in the wilderness. This is why men will be drawn to Him, because He will bring healing and relief from the sin of the world, which oppresses us and makes us slaves.
The audience is confused because they have not been paying attention. He has already said He will tear down the temple and raise it once again. He has already shown his distaste for playing part of their political game of naming a successor and new ruler. He has even already said that He is the Son of Man. So what gives?
A common theme in John is Jesus being the Light. He is the light of men, as John mentioned in the beginning of his book. As I read the words of Jesus here, I picture a candle that will soon be extinguished. He is imploring people to gain the light through belief in Him so their candles can be lit, since they will be carriers of this Light once He dies.
Do you carry Him with you?