“Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto myself.” He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.”
In their book Preaching the Cross, Mark Dever, J. Ligon Duncan III, R. Albert Mohler Jn., and C. J. Mahaney argue for a recovery of cross centred preaching in the Christian Church. This is that one central theme which is able to give power to the proclamation of the Gospel. It is at the heart of the Gospel of John as the task of Christians everywhere. In our text Jesus calls us to exalt Him by lifting Him up from the earth. We preach a crucified redeemer, who was raised from the grave and who is now ever living to make intercession for us. Three times in his Gospel John returns to this theme of lifting up the Lord Jesus Christ. He does so in John 3:14ff when he writes,
“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Or in John 8:28 when he comes back to this same theme,
“When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the father taught me.”
In our text the Lord Jesus Christ tells us that in His cross the judgement or crisis of the world will take place. What He means is that it will be that one event in which all sin will be judged. Satan’s hold on this world will be broken. For all who will receive it forgiveness will be offered in the Cross. Nothing is more important than to proclaim this message. We must ask however what this will look like in our churches.
John Piper in his chapter in Preaching the Cross, “Preaching as Expository Exultation for the Glory of God” quotes extensively from Arnold Dallimore’s biography of George Whitefield regarding his proclamation of the cross of Christ.
“Yea…that we shall see the great Head of the Church once more…raise up unto Himself certain young men whom He may use in this glorious employ. And what manner of men might they be? Men mighty in the Scriptures, their lives dominated by a sense of the greatness, the majesty and holiness of God, and their minds and hearts aglow with the great truths of the doctrines of grace. They will be men who have learned what it is to die to self, to human aims and personal ambitions; men who are willing to be “fools for Christ’s sake”, who will bear reproach and falsehood, who will labor and suffer, and whose supreme desire will be, not to gain earth’s accolades, but to win the Master’s approbation when they appear before His awesome judgment seat. They will be men who will preach with broken hearts and tear filled eyes, and upon whose ministries God will grant an extraordinary effusion of the Holy Spirit, and who will witness “signs and wonders following” in the transformation of multitudes of human lives.” (Arnold Dallimore, George Whitefield, Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1970)
This is what the Apostle John is calling for in his Gospel. We must be praying that God will raise up people who will exalt the Lord Jesus Christ by proclaiming the cross centred message of God’s transforming grace.