John 12:27-33, 3 Nephi 27:13-22 — to be ‘lifted up’ is about eternal covenants, resurrection, and exaltation — LeGrand Baker

As far as I can tell, to be “lifted up” is code that connotes being lifted above this world into a holier sphere. That is true of the Savior and also of us, and in that context the phrase is always tied to his and our covenant-relationship with his Father. It is apparent from the consistent way the phrase “lifted up” is used as a reference to the Savior’s crucifixion that it had a much more powerful connotation than just the fact of the cross itself. The Savior said,

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. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.
29 The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him.
30 Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.
31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world [Satan] be cast out.
32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
33 This he said, signifying what death he should die (John 12:27-33).

If one seeks to look into the depths of the brief account of this conversation:

28 Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.

One hears the echo of a premortal covenant that is about to reach fruition. In these verses there is powerful, yet unexpected symbolism of the Savior’s crucifixion described in the language of the prophets from at least as early as the time of Enoch, but even Enoch projects it back into the premortal world.

47 And behold, Enoch saw the day of the coming of the Son of Man, even in the flesh; and his soul rejoiced, saying: The Righteous is lifted up, and the Lamb is slain from the foundation of the world; and through faith I am in the bosom of the Father, and behold, Zion is with me. …………………..
55 And the Lord said unto Enoch: Look, and he looked and beheld the Son of Man lifted up on the cross, after the manner of men;
56 And he heard a loud voice; and the heavens were veiled; and all the creations of God mourned; and the earth groaned; and the rocks were rent; and the saints arose, and were crowned at the right hand of the Son of Man, with crowns of glory (Moses 7:47, 55-56).

The prophets have been teaching this “since the world began,” as Nephi so clearly testified.

10 And the God of our fathers, who were led out of Egypt, out of bondage, and also were preserved in the wilderness by him, yea, the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, yieldeth himself, according to the words of the angel, as a man, into the hands of wicked men, to be lifted up, according to the words of Zenock, and to be crucified, according to the words of Neum, and to be buried in a sepulchre, according to the words of Zenos, which he spake concerning the three days of darkness, which should be a sign given of his death unto those who should inhabit the isles of the sea, more especially given unto those who are of the house of Israel (1 Nephi 19:10).

Another was the brother of Jared.

1 And the Lord commanded the brother of Jared to go down out of the mount from the presence of the Lord, and write the things which he had seen; and they were forbidden to come unto the children of men until after that he should be lifted up upon the cross; and for this cause did king Mosiah keep them, that they should not come unto the world until after Christ should show himself unto his people (Ether 4:1).

The Lord concluded his conversation with the brother of Jared with this promise:

19 And blessed is he that is found faithful unto my name at the last day, for he shall be lifted up to dwell in the kingdom prepared for him from the foundation of the world. And behold it is I that hath spoken it. Amen (Ether 4:19).

Nephi also “saw and bear record,” and described the Savior’s atoning sacrifice in those same words:

33 And I, Nephi, saw that he was lifted up upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world (1 Nephi 11:33).

Another Nephi explained Moses’s brazen serpent in those same terms.

14 Yea, did he [Moses] not bear record that the Son of God should come? And as he lifted up the brazen serpent in the wilderness, even so shall he be lifted up who should come.
15 And as many as should look upon that serpent should live, even so as many as should look upon the Son of God with faith, having a contrite spirit, might live, even unto that life which is eternal (Helaman 8:14-15).

As this collection of scriptures shows, when the Savior used those words to describe that part of his Atonement, he always did it with reference to his Father, and either explicitly or implicitly, to the covenants they had made with each other and with us. For example:

28 Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.
29 And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him (John 8:28-29).

His explanation to the Nephite disciples was even more explicit.

13 Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.
14 And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—
15 And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works.
16 And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.
17 And he that endureth not unto the end, the same is he that is also hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence they can no more return, because of the justice of the Father.
18 And this is the word which he hath given unto the children of men. And for this cause he fulfilleth the words which he hath given, and he lieth not, but fulfilleth all his words.
19 And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end.
20 Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.
21 Verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; and ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do; for that which ye have seen me do even that shall ye do;
22 Therefore, if ye do these things blessed are ye, for ye shall be lifted up at the last day (3 Nephi 27:13-22).

In the following statement, the Savior does not use the phrase “lifted up” but the sense is there in the phrases “come to me,” “draw him,” “raise him up.” In the New Testament the Savior is reported to have said,

44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.
46 Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.
47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

In the Inspired Version the Prophet Joseph expands verse 44 to be expressly about the resurrection.

No man can come unto me, except he doeth the will of my Father who hath sent me. And this is the will of him who hath sent me, that ye receive the Son; for the Father beareth record of him; and he who receiveth the testimony, and doeth the will of him who sent me, I will raise up in the resurrection of the just (JST John 6:44).

To be “lifted up” is not just a picturesque phrase, but rather, it seems to be the name applied to overriding and eternal ordinances.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

This entry was posted in 3 Nephi, John. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply