If I Be Lifted Up

Joel Stephen Williams

Years ago in Northern India, a Methodist Bishop was preaching to a group of natives, all seated on the ground. He told how the Christ who loved the whole world and who came to serve others was abused by men. Jesus was mocked and spat upon. He was taken before Pilate and condemned to death at Calvary. He described the sufferings of Jesus on the way to the cross and on the cross. He told how his friends deserted him. Finally, he told how Jesus, in the midst of his agony, cried out: "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do!"

When the preacher reached this point in his sermon, an old Hindu priest could stand it no longer. He rushed forward, threw himself at the preacher's feet and said, over and over again: "We want you to leave India. We want you to leave India." The old priest was asked: "Why do you want me to leave India?" "Because we have no story like this," he replied. "We have no Savior who lived a sinless life, who died for his enemies and prayed for the forgiveness of those who took his life. If you keep telling this story to our people, they will forsake our temples and follow your Savior."

Jesus predicted: "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." The apostle John adds: "He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die" (Jn. 12:32-33). In Christianity the shedding of blood is done by God the Son for the sake of mankind. This is unique in all the religions of the world. It is such a foolish notion, by the world's standards, that it must be true (1 Cor. 1:18-3:23). Let us forever keep the cross of Christ at the center of our proclamation (1 Cor. 2:1-2).

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