Please note, I am not asking about the meaning of “I will draw all men to myself”. This has been answered in another question here: What is the Catholic interpretation of John 12:32?

The New International Version renders it as, “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself.” Then, in verse 33 it says this was to show what kind of death He was going to die. Does Jesus mean when he is lifted up to heaven after his resurrection? And what does it have to do with the manner of Jesus’ death?

What is the meaning, significance and relevance behind Jesus being “lifted up from the earth”?

I seek answers from Trinitarian Protestants.

  • It is a matter of spiritual interpretation not a matter, merely, of the bare text of scripture. Jesus' words may indicate something after ascension that is dependent on his first being lifted up in crucifixion. If lifted (now) I will draw (after ascension). But that, as I say, is a matter of spiritual interpretation. Which some will call 'conjecture'. – Nigel J Oct 5 '19 at 16:50
  • @NigelJ - Fair comment to say these two verses are open to spiritual interpretation. I simply want some input to help me unravel the meaning of Jesus' words "if I be lifted up from earth". References to other Bible verses where that expression is used will provide clarity, no doubt. – Lesley Oct 6 '19 at 11:11
  • @Lesley I agree with Andrew Shanks' answer 'Surely it means ...etc'. And 12:33 is quite specific. Other than that clear fact, the rest is interpretation. – Nigel J Oct 6 '19 at 11:34

Surely it means simply when I am lifted up on the cross of crucifixion.

In the same Gospel of John he is quoted as saying two things about being "lifted up":

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever 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 he.. (John 8:28)

Here he was speaking to the Pharisees (John 8:13) later in the conversation they are called "the Jews" (John 8:22). The "lifting up", then, is something that his enemies will do to him, so it cannot be referring to either his resurrection or his ascension.

Jesus keep me near the cross:

There a precious fountain,

Free to all, a healing stream,

Flows from Calvary's mountain.


In the cross, in the cross,

Be my glory ever,

Till my raptured soul shall find

Rest beyond the river.

  • So, after Jesus’ outstretched arms were nailed to the cross-beam, he was literally lifted up so that the cross-beam could then be attached to the upright. Those other verses from John's gospel bring clarity to the meaning. Thank you. – Lesley Oct 6 '19 at 11:21
  • Thank you for sharing those inspiring words. – Lesley Oct 7 '19 at 16:52
  • After reading your answer I continued to search for information and found this article: gotquestions.org/if-I-be-lifted-up.html – Lesley Oct 7 '19 at 16:55

In John 14 : 6 a : we see that Jesus says that He, is the way, the truth, and the life. Jesus saith unto him, I am the way,the truth, and the life-- So if and when people hear the word of God, as it is "lifted up" they can be drawn to Him

In Isaiah 55:11 it says that His Word won't come back to Him void. So there is power in the Word. "So shall my word be that forth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void,--

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