The Son of Man must be lifted up
General Shaw Clifton’s Easter Message 2007
by General Shaw Clifton –
It was to Nicodemus that Jesus spoke these words: “The Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life” (John 3:14,15 New International Version). Then followed the famous, most often-quoted words in Scripture from John 3:16: “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.”
Lifted up? Yes. That is exactly what they did to Jesus at Calvary. They hoisted him high on a cross of wood and nailed him there. Some thought it would get rid of a troublemaker. Others genuinely believed he had blasphemed by claiming to be the Son of God. A few, a precious few, knew who he was and wept their hearts out as they watched him die. They could not take it in. A good man condemned like a thief. Some who had been close to him had deserted. While he suffered, they ran away and hid.
Lifted up? Yes. There on a high hill, Calvary, at a place called Golgotha, they executed the best person ever to have walked on the face of the earth. Jesus was innocent of the charges leveled against him. He took it all in virtual silence, never protesting his innocence. He knew he was at the center of the Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation for all of humankind.
Lifted up? Yes. They looked at him, some mocking. They taunted him with cheap, hollow words: “Come on down and save yourself!” Even now some will still deride and cheapen what was done that fateful day.
Lifted up? Yes. Into dreadful pain, more of the soul than of the body. He was made sin for us that day, carrying all the weight of my sins and yours as a perfect, atoning sacrifice. He felt utterly cut off from God, crying out in agony of spirit as he experienced crucifixion of both body and mind.
Lifted up? Yes. His cross stands starkly as a sign for ever of the loving heart of God towards us despite our
sin and disobedience. It is a constant reminder that we can make a new beginning whatever we have done with our lives thus far. Jesus “lifted up” means forgiveness for the truly repentant, sincerely seeking sinner and the real possibility of a pure and holy life even in a sin-sick world.
Lifted up? Yes. Still today Jesus is lifted up for all to see through the lives of those who have received him as their Savior. The nailed-down Jesus, the dead Jesus, was not the end of the story but only the beginning. He defeated sin; he defeated death. The grave could not hold him and they found the tomb empty, the grave clothes lying discarded, no longer required. Hardly do we commemorate his dying before we find ourselves caught up in the wonder of his resurrection. Christ is alive! Lift up your hearts!
Lifted up? Yes. You can lift him up: by the way you live for him; by witnessing for him; by loving and serving him; by obeying his words found in the Bible. You can lift him up: by having a heart of concern for the lost; by feeling the pain of a broken world; by sympathy, compassion and an aching heart for others in their lostness and need. You can lift him up: by devoting yourself to the sacred work of soul-winning, making it your daily business; by responding to a sacred calling into Salvation Army officership if that is what God is speaking into your life just now; by simply being his loving and obedient child.
Lifted up? Yes. There he is in Heaven, seated at the right hand of God the Father. The Ascended One waits for you, and for me. One day we will be in Heaven too, lost in wonder, love and praise. We will see him face to face. Will you be there? He did it all for you, all for me.
This Easter, let all Salvationists lift up Jesus, for all the world to see and believe that Jesus is the Christ, so that they might have eternal life.
God bless you. He is alive and is with you day by day, moment by moment.
Shaw Clifton, General of The Salvation Army