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Thinking of God by Larry Sheehy
Jesus was lifted up for us
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    Language is really interesting — and important. Communication is enhanced by the use of words and phrases used to verbally describe mental pictures for us. In this way, we can “see” what others are saying. Sometimes the same word picture is used in different contexts. But, because we’re familiar with its usage, it’s not confusing.
    The expression “lift (or “lifted”) up” is a good example. Scripture uses this language in a number of different contexts. People “lift up” their eyes (Gen.13:14) and hands (Ex.17:16; 1Tim.2:8). Worshippers “lift up” their faces to God (Job 22:26). David said, “To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul....” (Ps.25:1)
    In these and other contexts, something important is being said with the use of this common phrase. Now, think about an important usage of the expression by the apostle John.
    Three times in John’s account of the ministry of Jesus the expression "lifted up" is used with reference to Jesus as the Christ, the One sent from the Father in heaven:
    ‰ “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.” (John 3:14)
    ‰ “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am [the one I claim to be]....” (John 8:28)
    ‰ “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” He said this to show the kind of death He was going to die.” (John 12:32, 33)
    One writer said about this historical incident,
    The lifting up of Jesus upon the cross is the central event of the ages.  Considered to be the punishment by the Romans for the vilest of criminals, Jesus was willing to be crucified, dying for our sins.  The cross has become His pulpit.  Without the cross He would appear as no more than a wise philosopher.  But on the cross He becomes our Savior.
    There is no doubt that this assessment of the “lifting up” of Jesus is correct. In spite of the contrary opinion of unbelievers, the crucifixion of Jesus is the most blessed event of all human history. It wasn’t because it was unusual. This method of capital punishment was used from about the 6th century BC to the 4th century AD among the Persians, Seleucids, Jews, Carthaginians, and Romans. Instead, it was because it was a common form of death for common criminals that so many viewed it with such contempt (1Cor.2:20-25).
    The hideousness of the crucifixion of Jesus demands that we ask, “Why?” The answer of scripture is simple: so that we might be saved from our sins. We are healed by His wounds (Isa.53:5), and His blood was poured out for the forgiveness of our sins (Matt.26:28).
    The death, burial and resurrection is the very foundation of the “good news” (gospel) of God for sinners. (1Cor.15:1-4) In spite of the amusement of the world at this idea, Christians fall on their knees in gratitude and daily recommit their lives to Him.
    Larry Sheehy is an elder and pulpit minister at Statesboro Church of Christ. He can be reached at (912) 764-5269.
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