Nathanael

Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” (John 1:51).

- John 1:43–51

During the past two centuries, many philosophers have noted the profound sense of alienation that pervades modern society. Men and women alike feel a powerful disconnect between each other, as well as between themselves and their occupations, society, and purpose. While secular thinkers posit a variety of causes and solutions to this phenomenon, Christians are well aware of the fundamental alienation that gives birth to all other separations: man’s estrangement from his Creator.

Throughout the Old Testament we find certain individuals celebrating whenever they found access into the presence of God, where, at least temporarily, this sense of alienation was abated. One such example occurs in Genesis 28:10–22, when Jacob has his famous dream of a ladder reaching into heaven.

The ladder is significant, for it is the tool by which the earth is connected to the heavenlies and is therefore the means for entry into the presence of the Lord. Angels ascend and descend the ladder, and God stands at the top to receive these messengers into His throne room and to send them forth on their missions (vv. 12–13). Jacob recognizes the meaning of the vision in calling the place where he slept Bethel, that is, the house of God (vv. 17–19). In that very place the patriarch met with the Almighty.

This story helps us to understand the words Jesus spoke to His disciple Nathanael in John 1:43–51. Having amazed Nathanael with His knowledge of the man’s whereabouts before having met him (vv. 48–49), our Lord promises Nathanael that he will see the even greater sign of angels ascending and descending upon Him (v. 51). Jesus is not merely referring to the appearances of angels later in His ministry, He is equating Himself with Jacob’s ladder.

Nathanael’s face-to-face meeting with Christ changed Him forever. He could do naught but follow the Lord, for in associating Himself with Jacob’s ladder, Jesus revealed that He alone is the way to meet the Holy One of Israel. We must always remember that the Messiah purchased our access to the Father with His blood (Heb. 6:19–20).

Coram Deo

Whenever we have need, those in Christ are free to enter into the heavenlies and go before the Father through the doorway He opened (Heb. 7:23–25). You should never feel as if your concerns are trivial to God, for He has sent the Messiah, and it is through Him that we earnestly ask the Father to hear our prayers. We must also not think that God is unapproachable, for in Jesus we can be cleansed from all sins. Present your concerns, no matter how small, before God today.

Passages for Further Study

Lev. 16
Ezek. 43:1–9
Mark 15:33–39
Heb. 10:19–22

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