lifted-upHow many times have you heard the worship leader say something like, “Jesus said ‘If I be lifted up I will draw all men to me,’ so let’s worship Jesus and allow him to draw us nearer”?  Sometimes it is implied that our worship of Jesus will even result in Jesus bringing sinners to salvation.

A simple reading of the context reveals that it is being both misquoted and taken out of context.  Jesus didn’t say “If I be lifted up I will draw all men to me,” but rather “If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to me.”  The addition of the bolded words alone make it clear that the worship leader’s interpretation is wrong.  The context makes it even more obvious:

And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die. (Jn 12:32-33, KJV)

It’s true that Jesus is talking about drawing sinners to Him in salvation, but it’s not our worship that accomplishes this – it’s Jesus’ crucifixion.  Being lifted up from the earth is a reference to the mode of Jesus’ execution.

The wording of John 12:32 is similar to John 3:14-15: “And as Moses lifted up [raised in the air] the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up [raised in the air] that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life.”

The next time your worship leader misquotes and misinterprets John 12 in this way, let him know that Jesus has already been crucified, and only needed to be crucified once.