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In John 12:32 Jesus said, “If I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all peoples to Myself.” Verse 33 adds that this signified by what death He would die. He would be lifted above the earth as He was crucified on the cross.
At the time the people doubtless did not understand this, but the meaning would become clear when His prediction came true. What can we learn about Jesus’ death?
Satan doubtless thought that turning the multitudes against Jesus and causing His death would lead the people to reject Jesus for all time. They would be repulsed by His manner of death and His inability to prevent it.
And at first it appeared Satan was right. When Jesus was crucified, everyone turned away from Him. Even His disciples forsook Him and fled. Peter denied Him three times.
But by rising from the dead, Jesus gained the ultimate victory and achieved the means whereby people are attracted to Him, not driven from Him. The death on the cross, which Satan intended to destroy Jesus, instead became the means of salvation for all men!
Revelation 12:10,11 – … salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren … has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…
What a turnabout! The plot to destroy Jesus became His road to victory. Few events in history are characterized by such irony, and no other event can match the importance of this victory.
Jesus draws men to Himself. People are attracted to Jesus by hearing the message of the cross and the importance of it.
This means it is foolish to try to use other means to attract people to the church or to Jesus. It is totally contrary to Jesus’ teaching to use carnal attractions, such as banquets, candy, ice cream, recreation, entertainment, sports, parties, and other forms of fun and games. Nor does the Bible tell His church, as such, to help the poor and needy of the world in order to attract people to Jesus.
Individuals may surely have wholesome entertainment, and should care for the needy around us in the world. We should do good works for sake of the good works themselves, because Jesus commanded them. But churches should not institute such programs thinking they are the work of the church or will lead people to salvation.
Romans 1:16 – The gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Throughout the book of Acts the early church attracted people to Christ and the salvation He offers simply by telling them the message of the gospel. We should do the same.
The modern Social Gospel, with its carnal attractions, violates the spiritual nature of the gospel, and shows that people lack faith in the power of the message of Jesus (John 6:44,45; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; Romans 10:14-17; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
Jesus said that, if He was crucified, He would draw people to Himself. The gospel message, as taught and practiced by Jesus’ inspired apostles and prophets, shows that we should attract people to salvation by teaching them the message of the gospel. We tell them their need for forgiveness of sins and that forgiveness comes only through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross and His resurrection from the dead.
That message of Jesus Christ and His crucifixion is the message we proclaim in the Lord’s Supper.
(c) Copyright David E. Pratte, 2020
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Scripture quotations are generally from the New King James Version (NKJV), copyright 1982, 1988 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. used by permission. All rights reserved.