Ascending & Descending On the Son of Man
John 1:51 (ESV) – And he said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
In the story of Jacob, we see a scene where he experiences the angels of God ascending and descending on a ladder that stretches from heaven to earth. It is an incredible picture how close and interconnected heaven and earth really are. These realms are not separated by distance, but are dimensions that overlap together. Jacob knew he was in a holy place as he witnessed this phenomenon unfold.
Then in the Gospel of John, Jesus encounters Nathanael for the first time. Jesus tells him that He saw him under the tree before arriving there. Nathanael is blown away. How could Jesus know that? It shocked him that Jesus possessed this knowledge. But Jesus countered that by telling him he hadn’t seen anything yet. That’s what leads to our passage today. Jesus said, “you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
What is Jesus talking about? Jesus is making a veiled, but clear statement (once you make the connection). Through Jesus, heaven is opened. And the angels of God will ascend and descend on Him. This is pointing back to the story of Jacob. The ladder is a connector between heaven and earth. Jesus is essentially saying that He is Jacob’s ladder. It is Jesus, the connection between heaven and earth, that angels will ascend and descend upon.
This claim is just one of many claims that Jesus makes to identify Himself as the Messiah. He is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. The only way from earth to heaven is through Jesus. He is the ladder we make our way to heaven on. It is through Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection from the dead, that lost sinners have access to eternal life in heaven. Heaven is open because of the finished work of Christ.
Reflection & Journal:
- Do you think the disciples understood Jesus’ reference to Jacob’s ladder? Why or why not?
- In what way will Jesus be “Jacob’s ladder” between heaven and earth?
- What does it mean that heaven is open?
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