The Evangelical Heretic #2: Lifting Him Up

And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” John 12:3 

“Ok guys, let’s raise the roof! Let’s really PRAISE God tonight as we lift Him up! Jesus said that when we lift Him up, he will draw all men to Himself! Let’s go for it!"

Sounds good. The verse above was interpreted thus by a ‘worship leader’ at a church I once attended. My, we sang our hearts out, wanting our friends and family to be drawn in through the doors, like iron filings to a magnet. They didn’t come, and that’s partly because the text was misunderstood. Only the very next verse says 

He said this to indicate the kind of death He was going to die

So it’s not us singing loudly that draws men to Christ, but the Cross of Calvary. The object is the means by which I can be reconciled to the Father. Johnson Oatman’s 1903 hymn Lift Him Up makes the same error, but its third verse is still worth repeating:


Don’t exalt the preacher, don’t exalt the pew,

Preach the Gospel simple, full and free;

Prove him and you will find that promise is true,

“I’ll draw all men unto me.”