Jesus will draw all unto Himself

John 12

In John 12 Jesus tells us He will draw all unto Himself through being lifted up on the cross. Because of His sacrifice, everyone is welcome! He is now working to draw all unto Himself, no matter their background or disfunction. We should respond by following Him. When we do, we are with Jesus.

Find the rest of the messages in this series here.




There is only one interpretation of each passage, but many applications.

This passage is the passage that I preached on at our National Convention in Cincinnati. Though the text is the same and there will be some overlap, this won’t be the same message. There is only one interpretation of each passage, but many applications. While the application for you is different than a group of FWB Church leaders. The underlying truth is the same, but the need and context are different.

That’s one of the beautiful aspects of the Gospel, it’s a truth that fits in any context or culture, it can help people no matter where they’re from, what they’re going through, or how they’re broken.

We actually see a good illustration of this right in this passage.

John 12 is all about the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem for Passover.

As Jesus rides into Jerusalem for the Passover and fulfills prophecies right and left. He raised Lazuraus from the dead and culminates generations of Jewish passover feasts, animal sacrifices, and words of prophecy.

v.20 & 21 – There are Greeks who are in Jerusalem for the Passover feast and they approach Philip because they’ve heard all the buzz and they want to meet Jesus, Philip then goes to Andrew, and then they take them to Jesus.

Jesus responds to the request of the Greeks in verse 23

saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.

Now throughout Jesus’ ministry he’s been saying the hour is coming. The Kingdom of God is at hand. The kingdom of God is near. He also says in verse 32 

And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.

This message, Jesus’ message is for everyone!

The Gospel is for Everyone.

There is no one who God is not drawing to Himself. We often get to be agents in this work. Occasionally we see glimpses of this work behind the scenes. This past week I saw this multiple times. Getting my haircut and Dan and I were talking about someone we were concerned about and in the middle of our conversation he got a message from someone asking him about this person

Jesus came for everyone, and here He says if He is lifted up He will draw everyone unto Himself. But Jesus is using wordplay. He’s using the idea of lifting something up to make it seen or showing it with a common phrase in their vernacular.

The lifting up of Jesus was accomplished by a cross.

In the cross we see a demonstration of both the Roman political authority AND their blood lust. Their ability to crush their opponents and place them in subjection and their affair with the grotesque produced one of the most painful and effective instrument of execution the world has ever known. They were organized with a strong government, but it was governance that gave them opportunity to take what they wanted. 

The cross was the Roman governments preferred tool for execution.

The Cross, a simple construction of two wooden beams required very little equipment, it could be produced with ease in whatever country the Romans found themselves in. The Cross was scalable, it was painful, and it put the execution on display for people to see. A crucifixion had the stage production value of a hanging only it lasted for hours and the victim was able to cry out in horror and pain.

To us this phrase is solely positive, it conveys the idea of lifting the spirit of those who are discouraged- it conveys the idea of raising the banner high. It’s so positive that it’s a fitting theme for a national convention, but for the people who heard Jesus say it in that moment, it didn’t sound quite so positive. There were clearly positive insinuations, lifting up as in exalting and glorification, but it was ambiguous.

Jesus has chosen this phrase on purpose. To the people who heard it in that moment, it sounded somewhat like a phrase we might use today of execution like  “put him in the chair” or “give him the needle.” He has chosen this phrase because his path to exaltation is through humiliation.

His glorification will come through his crucifixion.

The time had come for him to be glorified because the time had come for him to be crucified. As often happens in the gospels, the people are profoundly missing the point because it’s counterintuitive to them. We will also miss the point of this text if we do not understand that the lifting up of the Son of Man takes place in the laying down of his life.

How will the Son of Man draw all men unto Himself? Through his sacrifice for all mankind upon the cross.

How will Jesus draw every tribe and tongue unto himself? By bearing the punishment of the nations in his flesh upon the cross.

Understanding this helps 24-28 make sense. Jesus says the hour is here and then tells us that like a grain of wheat, He will glorified by dying which brings about multiplication and fulfills the purpose of the seed. If it is never planted, it won’t bring about a harvest. The seed is wasted and the season is lost when the seed is never planted.

Jesus knew that He must fulfill His purpose before the moment passed.

The landscape has changed drastically at my house. We live in the middle of fields of corn and soybeans. Farmers harvested their crops, so the fields that once blocked my view of the highway are gone. The harvest only came because of the planting season which took place in the spring and early summer. There is no harvest without planting and there is not drawing of God without the sacrifice of the cross.  Jesus took the punishment of sin so that we could draw near to God. When we were lost in our sins, we could not come near. That’s way Jesus says what he does in verse 31:

31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.

The sentence for our sin has already been served!

When we think of Judgement Day, we think of a day that is coming after the return of Christ of after we die, we think of Judgement as something that is always out there, always waiting to fall, but for me, Judgement is not coming. For me, judgment has already come! It came upon Christ who stood in my place, was lifted upon a cross, and took my guilt and shame!

My judgement day was the day Christ died on the cross.

That was my judgement day, that was the day my sin was judged and punished!

When I preached on this text in the Warrick County Jail recently, I realized this is like what often happens to inmates at the county jail. In our Justice system when someone is found guilty, they then await sentencing.

Occasionally, the person found guilty will be free to go at sentencing because their punishment is less than the time already served.  The punishment has already been doled out. For others, who have remained free on bond, their time hasn’t started yet. They’ve tried to avoid it, tried to beat it in court, and when they are unsuccessful the punishment begins.

When we choose Jesus Christ, Christ takes the punishment for us in spite of our guilt. The judgement has already come.  We are free! For those who run from Jesus, who face God the judge with none of their sentence being served, the punishment will then begin.

V31 Now is the judgement. Now is the prince of this world cast out.

Jesus did not want to overcome a local temporary enemy, He came to conquer Satan.

The Jews were hoping that Jesus was there to overthrow the Romans. Instead, Jesus was there to take out a much greater foe. Jesus looked past the current leaders, rather He focused on the Prince of this World, the Prince of Darkness. Jesus came to conquer satan.  He came to destroy the works of the devil.

If you’ve ever wondered why Jesus hasn’t taken care of your enemies, know that He took out the greatest enemy to mankind’s soul. He destroyed the works of the devil.  Satan still roams the earth, still seeks to do damage, but God has robbed him of his main weapon, his accusation against us.

The lifting up on the cross clarifies the hour and calls us to follow.

In the middle of this passage, Jesus compares himself to a grain of wheat that dies to become a plant and multiply and gives a paradoxical and powerful call to all His disciples.

He says in verse 25-26

25He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.

Jesus regularly called the disciples to follow Him by dying to self.

This echoes similar calls he makes throughout the gospels.

Matthew 16
24Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

Our text in John 12 is about Jesus, about his sacrifice, about his glorification, but Jesus also applies this paradox to those who would see him or follow him or lift him up, or bring outsiders like the Greeks Philip and Andrew have brought to Jesus. Jesus shows up as our Savior in a way that was counterintuitive,  it wasn’t what was expected…

The life and call of Jesus are counterintuitive.

The life Jesus calls us to is similar. It seems backward.  Jesus calls us to go and die. He calls us to gain our lives by losing them. Christ calls us to multiplication through sacrifice. This passage is a truth about Jesus,  but it’s a truth he calls us to ourselves.  It’s a truth he desires to make so in us… His lead is a path for us to follow. He is not only bringing about the judgment and casting the prince of darkness out, he’s showing us the way.

Jesus shows us the way.

When we go somewhere, I lead the way. I kind of can’t stand it when everyone stands around going what are we going to do? What do you want to do? I don’t know, how about this?  We took a vacation with my family a few years back and it was a great time, but we would sit around and talk about what we were going to do and with 7 kids under the age of 7, your windows are very small. So once a decision was made on what we were going to do, I started heading in that direction or preparing. I started. There were more than a couple of occasions that I got in my car with my family and said, I will see you there.

What Jesus has called us to, He does not merely stand around talking it over with us, instead He goes first. He shows us the way.

The call to discipleship is a call to leave our old life behind.

Throughout the gospels we see disciples and would be disciples grappling with what they have to leave behind to take up the cross… to follow Jesus.

Peter walked away from his fishing boat.
Matthew walked away from his collecting table.
Zaccheaus turned from his dishonesty and greed.
The rich young ruler could not turn from his riches.
One man couldn’t leave behind a team of oxen.
Another couldn’t leave behind his ailing father.

What have you left behind for Jesus?

I fear that for some of us our relationship with Jesus merely depends upon if he’s on the way to what we were already doing. When I run errands or need to go pick something up, I’ll try to take care of whatever else needs to be done in Evansville. We want to journey with Jesus as long as He on the way to what we were already planning to do, where we were already heading…

What have you walked away from for Jesus?

When Jesus called these men to follow Him and leave everything else behind, He prepared them for the great work that lay ahead, the great work when they would lay down their very lives for the cause of Christ, proclaiming the good news to nations, baptizing converts, and pouring themselves into these men and women so that they could pass on whatsoever Jesus had commanded them.

The call of Jesus here is the call to discipleship. 

These men who would heed Jesus’ call would take up their crosses and pour their lives into the lives of others who would do the same again and again and again.  As Jesus showed the disciples the way here, they showed others the way, who showed others, who showed others.

As Jesus has shown us the way, we show others, who show others.

27 Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.

28 Father, glorify thy name. 

Jesus says, my soul is troubled because the cross was looming just around the corner…  He does not pray for ease or comfort.  Instead he prays God glorify your name.

Do not quit. Do not give up.  Pray that God’s name will be glorified! Pray that God will be glorified and take comfort not in easier circumstances but rather in this.

26a If any man serve me, let him follow me;

Jesus does not call us to something that he has not already done. He laid aside his glory and became a servant, even to death, even to the death of the cross. He goes before you.

26b and where I am, there shall also my servant be…

Jesus goes with you.

When we serve him, when we take up the cross and lift it high, we are with Jesus. The path might lead us into lonely situations- where we are the only who stands up for what’s right… Where we are the only one not grabbing drinks at the bar… When we are the only one not participating in the sin…

We Grow in Groups and Serve on Teams. We build relationships. Even then, there are times when no one else understands what we are going through. The most connected of us are lonely sometimes. When no one else gets what we are experiencing, Jesus is with us. Jesus is no rear admiral, He is a field general.  He is there in the thick of the fighting with us. You know how I know He’s here in the thick of this?
He said in 32,

32 If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto myself.

Jesus lifted Himself up through the cross. He lifted Himself up on the cross to take my sin and shame, and ever since he’s been drawing all men unto himself. He’s still doing this!

In the Lord of the Rings one of the characters says,
“I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.” I’ve felt this way so much over the past year. So much. I know several of you have too. 
I’m tempted to read up on techniques of spreading butter more efficiently. Maybe I’ll just cut the bread in half and walk away from some opportunities… No doubt there’s times to do both of those, but I’m learning afresh and anew, that I should trust Jesus to cover the bread. After all, the payment for my sin was far too great, and He covered that by taking up the cross. Why not trust Him as I take up mine.

Looking for a church in the Evansville area?

We’d love to have you join us for worship this Sunday at 9:30 or 11:00!
See how close we are and get directions in Google Maps.

Follow along with all of our messages by subscribing on Youtube or in Apple Podcasts.