By Jarrod Belcher
One of my favorite stories in the gospel is found at the end of the first chapter of John when Jesus is choosing his disciples. Phillip had become his disciple and had gone to tell his friend Nathanael that he had found the Christ. Nathanael was quite skeptical of Phillip’s claim especially when he had heard that Jesus was from Nazareth. Nathanael remarked, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
But when he met Jesus he was quite surprised that Jesus knew something about him. Jesus had said, “Before Phillip called you, when you were under the fig tree I saw you.” This was apparently a display of the supernatural knowledge of Jesus because Nathanael was astounded. He said, “You are the Son of God! The King of Israel!” At this Jesus replies that Nathanael will see greater things saying, “You will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
The interesting thing is that type of language rings a bell if we remember our Old Testament. In Genesis 28, Jacob had manipulated his older brother Esau into selling his birthright and had deceived his father Isaac into giving him the blessing. He was a marked man and filled with unrest.
But in spite of this God gave him a special dream. Jacob dreamed about a ladder touching heaven and earth with angels ascending and descending on it. John 1 teaches us that Jacob’s dream was about the way of salvation in Jesus. Since the fall in the Garden man has been separated from God; stranded on earth if you will, with no way to reach heaven on his own. And it is Christ alone who touches heaven and touches earth since he is both fully God and fully man. If we are to have any hope of reaching heaven we must believe in Christ because he is the way, the truth, and the life.
Jacob had a dream that symbolized the divine rescue he needed. We know today that this imagery is fulfilled in Jesus. Let us give thanks that he has opened the way to heaven.