““Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to Myself.” He said this to show by what kind of death He was going to die.” (John 12:31-33, ESV)
Jesus had come to the time when His death was less than a week away. By this time in the next week He would have been turned on in mass by the people. They would have demanded His crucifixion. He would have been tried multiple times, whipped, beaten, ridiculed, and sentenced to death on a cross. He would have carried that cross part way through Jerusalem while an onlooker was conscripted to carry it the rest of the way. He would have been nailed in place and then He would be lifted up on that cross and abruptly dropped into the hole dug on the hill where He would remain between two criminals until His death.
All of this was to happen while people looked on. Most of them would have been cheering the happenings as the anticipated His death. They truly would have cheered this Lamb going to the slaughter without any idea as to what He really was about to accomplish by being subject not to their plan, but the eternal plan of God in which they were willing pawns.
As I read these verses and I think about Jesus’ words speaking of Him being lifted up before the people on a cross, and as I think about even the sign posted above His head on the cross reading, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews,” (Matthew 27:37, ESV) I can’t also but think about two other lifting up’s which would follow. The first of those would be when He took His own life back up again. Jesus had said that He had the authority to lay it down and He had the authority to take it up again. Then there is that other lifting up, the one that would come many days later when we read in acts chapter 1, “And when He had said these things, as they were looking on, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as He went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven.”” (Acts 1:9–11, ESV)
All of their efforts to squash Him would prove futile. And all of the efforts of the evil one to thwart the plan of God and to keep man from Him would only result in the finalization of judgment and separation for him and all disbelieved. What Satan might have seen as his victory only sealed his failure. What they world might have cheered really only resulted it its judgment. But this is not the case for all who believe. We have been given the firm and unfailing promise of God that all who accept the One sent by Him—Jesus the Christ—will be saved. For us there is salvation at the cross, and the world’s darkest day brought about our greatest hope. Jesus truly was lifted up for us.