Exalted on the Cross

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I sometimes hear people disparage the symbol of the cross saying something like, “If your friend was shot, would you wear a gun around your neck?” While much could be said about the cross, I have recently been impressed with how the Gospel of John treats the crucifixion. In John, the cross is the method by which Christ is glorified and exalted. As Christ’s crucifixion approached, he said, “The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified” (John 12:23).

A theme of Christ being “lifted up,” or “exalted,” on the cross appears throughout John:

  • “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:14–15)
  • “When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he” (John 8:28)
  • “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die” (John 12:32–33)

The Gospel of John was written in Greek, and the Greek word translated as “lifted up” is hypsoō,” which means “to exalt.” When Peter says, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6) the Greek word translated as “exalt” is hypsoō. The same is true when Peter said to the Jewish authorities, “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour” (Acts 5:30–31).

Thus, Christ being “lifted up” on the cross also could be translated as saying that he is exaltedon the cross.

While Christ was not speaking in Greek when he visits his followers on the American continent, think about his following statement with the word exalted replacing the phrase lifted up. “And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up [exalted] upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up [exalted] upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me” (3 Nephi 27:14).

Particularly in the Gospel of John, we see the crucifixion as the means of Christ’s glorification and exaltation. It is what Eliza R. Snow referred to as the “triumphs of the cross.” Through his crucifixion we too have a hope for exaltation. As Nephi wrote, “I Nephi saw that he was lifted up upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world” (1 Nephi 11:32, emphasis added).

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1 thought on “Exalted on the Cross

  1. I am so impressed by the Easter Series that I have watched this week. #3 and #4 were especially meaningful to me as I now have a thoughtful, meaningful, and nonjudgemental answer to the symbolism of the cross. I like so many, have always been taught that the cross is not a symbol used in our church. This has made for some uncomfortable communication as I try to show that I do believe in Jesus. Thank you for clarifying doctrine and culture. While I will probably not wear a cross, I will have respect for it and see it in a positive light.

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