"And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." ..." (John 12:32)

When will Jesus 'be lifted up'?

Did Jesus' physical body get lifted up into the sky? That did not happen. Rather, Jesus was crucified, and his body died on the cross:
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30)
This indicates that Jesus died on the cross, and his spirit left his physical body. His spirit was essentially "lifted up" out of his body.

The fact that his body was dead was afterward confirmed:
But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. (John 19:33-34)
This indicates that Jesus' body was indeed dead. Jesus' spirit-person had already left that body.

Yet many say that Jesus' body "rose from the dead." This is misunderstanding what actually happened. As is shown when Thomas felt the holes in Jesus' side, Jesus did not appear in his physical body. Otherwise, the holes in his body would be oozing blood and water as they did when Jesus' body was pierced.

Furthermore, Jesus was not recognized by his Mother, Mary and his closest disciples when he appeared. This means that Jesus appeared in an apparition, much as angels appear. 

If we were to accept this translation, what was 'lifted up from the earth' was the spirit-person of Jesus, as he left the body upon the time of death.

That is, if we accept this translation - which is a reach.

How will Jesus 'draw all people' to himself?

Since Jesus left the planet around 33 A.D., he was 'lifted up from the earth' then. How have "all people" been drawn to Jesus? How could this be a true statement?

Certainly, there are many who reject that Jesus is God's messenger.

The reality is that this statement has been mistranslated* and misinterpreted by sectarian institutions and their teachers.

Jesus left the planet some two thousand years ago. Since there are billions of people still here, if "all men" were not "drawn" up to Jesus as he was "lifted up from the earth."

If being "drawn" to Jesus means being attracted to him, this also is not true, as so many billions of people throughout the world over the past two thousand years either oppose them or have not heard Jesus' teachings. So "all men" being "drawn" to Jesus is a nonsensical translation. 

Jesus did not say this.

What does the Greek indicate Jesus said?

The meaning of this verse can be understood by studying the early Greek texts carefully:

The Greek word κἀγώ (kagō) can mean, "I as well," "And I" or "Even I" according to the lexicon. But do people really talk like this in English? Do we often hear people say, "I as well," "Even I," or "And I", then talk about themselves? Hardly. 

Typically we will just go into the issue, saying, "But I..." The word "but" is an adverb used to insert another element into the subject - "I" in this case. Yes, Jesus is inserting himself in opposition ("but") to what the "now the prince of this world will be driven out." (John 12:31)

The real clue to the meaning of Jesus' statement comes from the Greek word ἐάν (ean). This does not mean "when" as translated here. It means "if" or "in case" according to the lexicon and typical use of Greek. 

It is a word that clearly communicates uncertainty and the possible connection between two events. "If" and "when" are two completely different words and concepts. (King James and New King James versions do translate this to "if" while some other texts use "when").

Next, the Greek word ὑψόω (hypsoō) does not mean "lifted up" as translated here. It means to be "exalted" or put on a pedestal: "to exalt, to raise to dignity, honor and happiness" according to the lexicon. To translate this to being physically lifted up from the earth like some kind of elevator is to see Jesus and the situation in one dimension - as a physical body. It is not seeing Jesus as he is, in other words.

The Greek word ἐκ (ek) can certainly mean "from," but it can also mean "by." The most appropriate use here is "by" - see below.

The Greek word γῆ (gē) can mean "arable land," "the ground," "land," "the earth as a whole," and "the inhabited earth, the abode of men and animals" according to the lexicon. Is Jesus referring to physical land here? The land cannot exalt anyone. 

Rather, Jesus is referring to the physical world - as he referred to in his previous statement, when he talked about the "prince of this world." He is talking about the "world" as someone might say, "He was the best in the world." In the statement, "he was the best in the world," we are not talking about the "world" as physical land. We are talking about "world" as the populace of the world.

What Jesus is talking about is the possibility of his being exalted by the populace of the world. He is saying:
"But if I were to be exalted by the world..."
The Greek word ἐάν (ean) doesn't mean "when." It means "if." The lexicon definitely defines the word as deeming uncertainty - if. The word "when" refers to a certain event - which is precisely the opposite of what Jesus said.

Wasn't Jesus rejected by many?

Yes. As we can see from Jesus' trial and persecution, many people, along with the temple institution, rejected Jesus' teachings.

Jesus understands that the institutional temple priests and Romans have opposed his teachings, even to the point where some were plotting his execution. Thus, while he was being exalted by some of his followers in Jerusalem while he was there, being "exalted by the world" was a different matter. This is why the word "if" is so important to Jesus' statement.

The Greek word πᾶς (pas) here is being translated to "all men." Where does this come from? πᾶς can certainly mean "everyone," but also "all things," "the whole," "all" and collectively, "some of all types." In other words, "everyone and everything." Let's look at the word "draw" in this connection:

The Greek word ἕλκω (helkō) is correctly translated to "draw," but the usage is not correct. The usage makes it look like Jesus is some sort of magnet that physically attaches people to him as he is "lifted up." Rather, the correct usage indicates inclusion, or to bring along. Jesus is saying that if he were to be exalted by the world, everyone and everything would also become exalted.

The Greek word πρός (pros) here is being translated here to "with," but it also means, first and foremost, "to the advantage of." It can also mean "at," "near," or "by." But "to the advantage of" is its primary meaning, and this begins to clarify Jesus' statement.

The Greek word ἐμαυτοῦ (emautou) does mean "I, me, myself" as the translation uses, but it is important that the previous word is better translated to "with," and as such, the best use of this word would be "me," as in "with me."

What is the point of Jesus' statement?

This translation misses Jesus' point completely. The concept of Jesus saying "when" he is "lifted up from the earth," he will "will draw all men to myself" is completely missing the point of Jesus' statement. Jesus was not making himself out to be some kind of magnet-man - like some kind of super-hero.

Rather, Jesus saw himself as God's humble servant and the servant of humanity. He sought not to rule over people, but to help others come to the platform of loving and serving the Supreme Being - whom Jesus also loved and served.

Jesus wanted everyone to come to this point, not just himself. Therefore, he wanted to bring everyone along with him. He wanted everyone to love and serve God, and be exalted - spiritually.

What about being 'exalted'?

Jesus was utilizing the word "exalted" as a double entendre - a word with two meanings. While he was referring to it as being "exalted" by others - or being praised and glorified by others - he was also using it in the context of "spiritual exaltation," or being raised to the platform of spiritual grace - becoming one of God's humble loving servants - as Jesus was.

Consider this in relation to Jesus' previous statement:
"Now this material world is condemned; and the chief of this world will be cast out."(John 12:31)
The physical world is a perverted reflection of the spiritual world. In the spiritual world, everyone loves and serves God, and loves and serves each other with respect to their loving relationship with God. In the physical world, we love ourselves. In this world, self-centeredness is the prevailing consciousness. We strive to make ourselves happy, typically at the expense of others.

This is called greed. In this world, everyone is striving to become exalted. We want fame and fortune, and all the goodies that come with them. This is diametrically opposed to the spiritual world, where everyone wants to exalt the Supreme Being and His caregivers: Which makes them spiritually exalted.

Should everyone in the physical world suddenly decide to exalt the Supreme Being - by glorifying Him and His loving servants - those who populated the world (who are glorifying God and His loving servants) would become spiritually purified. We would all become ready to return home to the spiritual world after the death of our physical bodies.

This is Jesus' dream. While not likely (as he did use the word "if"), Jesus certainly hoped that everyone would sincerely hear and follow his teachings because he knew that by following his teachings, we can become spiritually purified - and spiritually exalted. And what, according to Jesus, were his most important teachings?
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matt. 22:37-40)

*Here is the translation of Jesus' statement according to the Lost Gospels of Jesus:

"But if I were to be exalted by the world, everyone would become exalted with me.” (John 12:32)