I know how difficult it can be to write a worship song. Not only do you have to compose a melody that’s memorable and singable, but you also must match it with lyrics that are biblically sound. As a worship leader I’ve long inspected lyrics of my own and others to make sure they convey words in line with what is written in the Good Book. I toss out the ones not grounded in Scripture, keep the ones that are solid, and occasionally get a good laugh from ones caught in between.
It’s in that place that we find the song, “Lift Jesus Higher”. It’s a song I learned in church growing up in the 1980’s. If you’ve been around for a while, you probably know it well.
Lift Jesus higher. Lift Jesus higher. Lift him up for the world to see. He said, “If I be lifted up from the earth I will draw all men unto me.”
It’s certainly rooted in Scripture. It’s right out of John 12:32. The tricky part is that Jesus, as stated in the following verse, was referring to the way he would die. He was talking about being lifted from the ground while nailed to a cross – a gruesome yet necessary step in the plan for the redemption of mankind.
Thus the phrase “lift Jesus higher” is not actually referring to making his name known, but literally elevating his body on the cross. It’s less like a praise chorus and more like a crucifixion chant.
Thankfully we serve a God who knows our thoughts and intentions even in the ’80s.