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John 12:32

ESV And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
NIV And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.'
NASB And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to Myself.'
CSB As for me, if I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all people to myself."
NLT And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.'
KJV And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

What does John 12:32 mean?

The expression "lifted up" is a metaphor for crucifixion—a fate Jesus will be experiencing very soon (John 12:23–24). This is something Christ alluded to when speaking with Nicodemus (John 3:14). There, Jesus referenced an incident from Numbers 21:4–9. The people of Israel were suffering from a self-inflicted plague, and could only be saved by looking to a bronze serpent held up on a pole. That moment foreshadowed the concept of salvation by grace through faith, with the eventual Messiah as the one "lifted up" for others to look to and be saved.

This act of being "lifted up" will "draw all men to [Christ]." The context of this "drawing" is the conversation Jesus is having with a crowd in Jerusalem (John 12:20–22). The people had mixed reactions to an overt voice from heaven (John 12:28–29). Jesus pointed out that such events were meant for their own good (John 12:30), as signs to point them to the truth (John 20:30–31). The message of the gospel, focused on Christ's death and resurrection, is one that "calls" to all people (John 6:35; 40). Unfortunately, not all will respond (John 6:44).

The aftermath of Jesus' death proves the literal truth of the words "all men." He will be executed under a placard sarcastically proclaiming Him as king in multiple languages (John 19:20). His death will shake the worldview of a pagan soldier (Mark 15:39), witnessed by both followers and enemies (Mark 15:29–32; John 19:25). He will die in between thieves (Matthew 27:38), only one of whom will believe (Luke 22:39–43). His body will be attended to by both loyal disciples and secret followers—those of both low and high class (Matthew 27:57–61). Women will be the first to learn of His resurrection (Mark 16:1–6). Gentiles will be converted (Acts 10:44–45). Hardened enemies will become missionaries (Acts 22:6–8). Social barriers will be broken (Galatians 3:28). In eternity, those redeemed by Christ will included members of "every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages" (Revelation 7:9).
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