In our worldly thinking, what is preventing us from experiencing the love of God? In lifting Him up, we can understand and learn that His Word is Truth.
25 So they were saying to Him, “Who are You?” Jesus said to them, “What have I been saying to you from the beginning? 26 I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world.” 27 They did not realize that He had been speaking to them about the Father. 28 So Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.”
How often do we ask someone a question that has already been answered? Is it like a follow through in basketball when the buzzer sounds but the player continues to shoot at the basket anyway? Or is it more an action of disbelief? Are we looking for a way out of the “ugly truth” that we don’t want to face? I say ugly truth because it is how we look at the truth sometimes, isn’t it? Especially when we look at Christianity and what it seems to portray. We have to do what? Give up our things, quit drinking and smoking, go to church, dress nicely, stop cursing, etc. Often we look at one specific verse and it scares the crap out of us: Luke 18:22 22 When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” Is this what it takes to be a Christian? It certainly wouldn’t appear so with all the marble cathedrals, would it? Bohnhoeffer does an excellent job of detailing the importance of this story in his book The Cost of Discipleship. I could give you a synopsis, but I probably wouldn’t do it justice and it would also distract from my main point today.
Why do we constantly question God when we know the answer already? Why do we always look for a way out? Because it pushes against the grain of our earthly desires. Similarly, when we see others doing something that is “odd” according to the way the world does things, we question that as well. We might see it as unfair, unjust, or even unloving from a God who declares to love us unconditionally and endlessly. The point Jesus makes here is that some won’t get it, but eventually all will understand one way or another. It’s not about what others understand or don’t understand. If we let the world’s understanding of God dictate our actions, well then we would be serving them instead of Him.
Verse 28 is commonly attributed to the foretelling of Jesus’ crucifixion, Him being “raised up” on the cross. It very well could have been meant that way, but I see another meaning in this passage. You see, we commonly use the analogy of a throne to explain the importance of Christ. Our pastor uses this imagery to explain to us how we tend to replace Jesus on the throne with other things that we tend to serve in life: money, sex, drugs, helping others, anger, etc. It is a good way to visualize who we are serving: God or something/someone else. I see that same imagery in this verse, explaining to us that once we look to Jesus as our king and “lift Him up” in our lives or hierarchy of importance, we will then know that He is truly the Christ, that He is of God, and that He tells us the Truth in His Word.
A good question sticks out in my mind: How will we know? I can only explain it with one simple word: peace. It is why they call Him the Prince of Peace. I explained in my longer writing about us letting man inhibit our own relationships with God that I cannot convince you one way or another that it is true, but only relate to you my story and explain that this is what happened in truth. Here, Jesus is telling us that all it takes for us to experience this and know He is God is by lifting Him up in your life. After all, what do you have to lose?