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October 17, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“And He said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.’”—John 1:51 (NKJV)
Approximately 1,200 years separate Jacob’s dream in Genesis 28:10-17 and Jesus’ words to Nathanael in today’s Scripture. In Jacob’s dream, he saw “a ladder set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it” (Genesis 28:12 NKJV). Above the ladder was God the Father who told Jacob the legacy He would give him and the promises He would keep. Jacob’s reply to God: “Surely, the LORD is in this place . . . and this is the gate of heaven” (vs. 16-17).
Biblical commentators have proposed that when Jesus met Nathanael, Jesus knew he had been reading Genesis 28:12 just moments before their introduction. Nathanael would have understood that the ladder in the dream represented God’s desire to reach down to mankind, to establish access to heaven—to establish a bridge. He may have been wondering what that ladder would be, more plausibly who that ladder would be, as most Jewish people at that time believed a Messiah, a great king, would come to deliver them.
Then Jesus stepped into Nathanael’s life with words to show him that Jesus knew him. He saw him, and Nathanael was called. Nathanael’s reply to Jesus: “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” (John 1:49 NKJV).
It was at that moment when Nathanael knew that heaven had come down in the form of a Man. Before him was the Bridge, the access to the kingdom of God. Granted, he didn’t fully realize how this Messiah would deliver His people, but he did recognize Him as the King. The ladder of Jacob’s dream was the Son of Man standing in the midst of man. Nathanael saw and believed. Jesus’ reply to Nathanael: “You will see greater things than these” (vs. 50).
Isn’t that what Jesus tells all who believe in Him? Jacob perceived the ladder in his dream was a gate to heaven. Jesus tells us that He is the gate and that whoever enters through Him will be saved (John 10:9).
Heaven is a real place, and Jesus is the gate and the bridge to it. The words “heaven opened” means continually opened. Continual access for man to God is through Jesus from which all great things come.
Our reply to Jesus: “Amen.”
DIG: Read John 1:35-51. Note the different titles for Jesus. You should find six.
DISCOVER: Learn about all these titles and their relation to who Jesus is. Don’t be surprised if you go off on a rabbit trail!
DISPLAY: If you are a faithful follower of Christ, how have you witnessed access to God and experienced these greater things? Write them down and share them with family and friends to see the realities of heaven in your life.
Lisa Supp lives in Utah and has served within the CCFL Web and Prayer Ministry since 2011. She also volunteers as an editor on the CCFL Prayer Wall and is a writer on the Communications Team. Retired from teaching, Lisa and her husband Ron volunteer at their local Calvary Chapel and share a passion for Scripture, apologetics, and education.