“Then Jesus said to them, ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.’ ” John 8:28–29
Jesus has been teaching in the Temple. His authority and that of the Scribes and Pharisees has be compared and contrasted. He’s been tested as the Jewish leaders attempted to trap him into condemning himself with either the Romans or the Jewish people. Through it all he’s remained unshaken and victorious.
Except, I don’t think Jesus would have considered his victories on the field of mental and verbal combat victories at all.
Jesus had come to seek and save the lost, leading all people from their place of eventual condemnation to one where they can receive from him forgiveness, grace and eternal life. In these exchanges where he’d been forced into deflecting a fusillade of theological mortar shells, instead of getting closer to reaching his goal with the Jewish leaders they’d become even more determined in their opposition and more deeply committed to remaining his enemies.
Jesus knows this and in our focus text acknowledges just how far the Jewish leaders enmity for him will drive them. The phrase, “When you lift up the Son of Man,” reveals two realities of Jesus’ eminent death. First, the word “you” tells us that it will be the Jewish leaders that will be primarily responsible for Christ’s execution, and secondly, the words “lift up” allude to crucifixion being the method of execution.
Christ knew what was going to happen to him. He’d studied the Old Testament prophecies foretelling the Messiah’s birth, life, and death, and strengthened by the Holy Spirit he was committed to winning salvation for us. His love for us was of such a depth that nothing could deter him from doing whatever it took to secure our salvation.
As the people witness his exchanges with the Scribes and the Pharisees a sharp contrast was revealed between them. His words rang true and his attitude was one of strength, compassion, and patience. The combined affect was such that John records that, “As He spoke these words, many believed in Him.”
But the most important question is, do you believe? That day in the temple many believed and many did not. Just like then, today, you have a choice. Believe and be saved or disbelieve and be lost. And we don’t make this choice in ignorance. Jesus told the Scribes and Pharisees that when they saw him lifted up they would know just who he was, and they all saw him lifted up, so they all knew.
God reveals the truth of Jesus to all of us but it’s up to us to chose to believe. Do you believe?