“Lift Him Up”

"And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me" (Jn. 12:32)

     INTRO.: A song which talks about the role of the church in making known the message of Him who was lifted up from the earth to help draw all men unto Him is "Lift Him Up." The text was written by Johnson Oatman Jr. (1856-1922). Oatman was a prolific hymn text writer, who is credited with "Count Your Blessings," "Hand in Hand with Jesus," "Higher Ground," "I’ll Be a Friend to Jesus," "Sweeter Than All," "The Last Mile of the Way," "No, Not One," and "What Shall It Profit a Man?", along with "He Included Me," "If Today Were the End of the World," and "When the Sun Goes Down." The tune for "Lift Him Up" was composed by Benjamin Burke Beale (1874-1945). The song is dated 1903 and was originally copyrighted by Beall, who is probably best known for the melody used with Ada Powell’s "Sing to Me of Heaven."

     Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "Lift Him Up" appeared in the 1938/1944 New Wonderful Songs edited by Thomas S. Cobb; the 1952 Hymns of Praise and Devotion edited by Will W. Slater; the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and the 1978 Hymns of Praise both edited by Reuel Lemmons; and the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater. Today it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise all edited by Alton H. Howard; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to the original Hymns for Worship (but not in the revised edition) and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.

     The song identifies several important concepts related to lifting the Savior up before a lost world.

I. Stanza 1 mentions the purpose
"How to reach the masses, men of every birth?
For an answer, Jesus gave the key.
‘And I, if I be lifted up from the earth
Will draw all men unto Me.’"
 A. God’s plan is to reach the masses, men of every birth, the whole world: Mk. 16:15
 B. How to do this? Jesus Himself, who has all authority, gives us the key: Matt. 28:18-20
 C. The Son of Man was to be lifted up just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness: Jn. 3:14-15

II. Stanza 2 mentions the need
"O the world is hungry for the living bread;
Lift the Savior up for them to see.
Trust Him, and do not doubt the words that He said,
‘I’ll draw all men unto Me.’"
 A. The world needs the living bread to satisfy its spiritual hunger: Jn. 6:48-51
 B. We help to provide this by lifting up the one who came to be the Savior: Lk. 2:11
 C. But to do this, we must trust Him and not doubt: Matt. 14:31

III. Stanza 3 mentions the method
"Don’t exalt the preacher, don’t exalt the pew–
Preach the gospel simple, full, and free.
Prove Him and you will find the promise is true,
‘I’ll draw all men unto Me.’"
 A. Neither the preacher nor "the pew" should be exalted because our faith should not stand in men but the power of God: 1 Cor. 2:4-5
 B. Rather, we should do exactly what the early Christians did, and that is preach the word: Acts 8:4
 C. In doing this, we prove or test the Lord, as He called upon the people of Israel to do, to see if His word is true: Mal. 3:10

IV. Stanza 4 mentions the results
"Lift Him up by living as a Christian ought;
Let the world in you the Savior see.
Then men will gladly follow Him who once taught,
‘I’ll draw all men unto Me.’"
 A. We lift Him up both by preaching His word and by living as a Christian ought in letting our lights shine before men: Matt. 5:14-16
 B. Only in this way will the world see the Savior in us: Gal. 2:20
 C. The result will be that those who truly want to please God will by our word and deed as they are taught by God come to Jesus and follow Him: Jn. 6:44-45

     CONCL.: The chorus encourage us to keep lifting up the Savior so that His message will be heard over the whole earth.
"Lift Him up, lift Him up;
Still He speaks from eternity,
‘And I, if I be lifted up from the earth
Will draw all men unto Me."
I have heard objections lodged against this song because the passage upon which it is based is talking about Jesus’s being lifted up on the cross, not our lifting Him up in any way. Well, that is true, but the song simply extends the idea of Christ’s being lifted up on the cross and uses it figuratively to explain how we can in turn lift up the crucified Savior to the world. Both by the preaching of the gospel and by the lives of its members, the basic function of the church is to take the message of the Savior and "Lift Him Up."


3 thoughts on ““Lift Him Up”

  1. God Bless you for 2Tim says to study to show theyself approved unto Him! As a little girl I grew up singing in church, Lift Him up was a popular hymn. Only in these past few years have I come to want to pray and have an understanding of these lyrics because I always want to Lift Him Up! I have enjoyed your interpretation!


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