Part of my Bible reading recently has included the Gospel of John. I haven’t read every day, but one thing I am doing is really trying to focus on the simplicity of what Jesus said and did with fresh eyes and set aside preconceived lenses. I’m realizing how often I skim right over scripture because I believe I know what it says, having been taught in a certain way, or from a specific theological viewpoint. I want God to teach me from His Word; I want the Spirit of God to speak to me, not just have my own thoughts confirmed.
In John 12:32, Jesus makes a statement, And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself. This is a radical statement because earlier He told us, No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught of God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me. Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life (John 6:44-47).
Jesus is God the Father’s message to the world. His crucifixion is the whole point, literally, the “crux” of the matter, or the decisive or most important issue at hand. Look at the cross. Consider who Jesus is, and why He died. What is God saying to you? What was the purpose? If we are brave enough to really look at what Jesus did, God will begin to speak to our hearts and disclose the why. And if you understand the why, you cannot simply walk away without making a conscious decision to either believe or reject.
Just a few days later, we find Jesus in the upper room. John 13:1-3 tells us what Jesus was thinking about. He was fully aware that His time was limited, and that He would be returning to heaven, back to the Father who had sent Him into the world. He also knew He would face the physical agony of the cross, and the spiritual separation from His Father as He took on the sins of the whole world. If that were me, knowing what I was about to endure, I would have been thinking purely about myself. Instead, Jesus takes a basin of water and washes the feet of His disciples. He humbled Himself to the status of the lowest house servant as an illustration of the servant’s heart He wanted His disciples to imitate.
Perhaps the most striking example is that Jesus also washed Judas’ feet, knowing he would betray Him. He even quotes Psalm 41:9, a prophetic reference to Judas, saying He who eats My bread has lifted up His heel against Me. Did you catch that? Jesus washed the very heels that trampled on what He was about to do on the cross. Jesus loved the one who rejected Him the same as the other eleven who would (eventually) faithfully serve Him and give their lives for His gospel. I believe Jesus was giving Judas one last opportunity to repent and turn back from his sinful choice to betray and reject him. Jesus would have gone to the cross anyway because that was His purpose from eternity past, but Judas chose to play his part.
Jesus has been lifted up, and every person who has heard the story of His crucifixion is now accountable for the truth. Have you ever sinned? Have you ever done something wrong, and felt in your heart the conviction of the conscience God gave you? Look at the cross. God is drawing you. God is speaking to you. Ask yourself, why the cross?
And Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me. He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me. I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness. (John 12:44-46)
God loves all people equally and calls all men to repent (Acts 17:30). His desire is that no one perishes (2 Peter 3:9). How do I know? Because Jesus has been lifted up. The cross stands as His message to you and me, drawing us to Jesus. How will you respond to His call?