And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it!
Ascending and Descending
I recently preached a sermon based on the Call of Nathanael. A correction must be made about something I said in that sermon.
I had said that Jesus repeated his assertion that he is the Son of Man and that angels will ascend and descend upon him in John 18 during his trail before Annas.
Jesus didn’t repeat the “angels ascending and descending” part. He did repeat his favorite title of himself, “the Son of Man.”
I was misremembering and got a little too excited about what I thought was a profound connection to Genesis 28, Jesus’ call of Nathanael, and Jesus’ crucifixion.
Please accept my apologies that in my arrogance of thinking I knew this story well, I didn’t do my due diligence in preparing for my sermon. I pray the Lord will protect those who heard me from being led astray by what I misspoke.
The connection between Genesis 28 – Jacob’s Ladder, John 1 – the Call of Nathanael, and Jesus’ death – is there, but not in the way I thought it was.
Here is how the connection is made:
Jacob dreams of a “ladder” – actually a “flight of steps” – and angels ascending and descending on it.
Jesus tells Nathanael that he will “see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
Before the Council, Jesus proclaims that “from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.”
The Point of Focus Should be Jesus
Our focus should not be on the angels, what direction they are going, or whether it was a ladder, a flight of stairs, or anything else. We should focus on Jesus Christ, the Son of Man.
Jesus is both the Son of Man and the Son of God. Both titles are accurate and telling.
Jesus is the Son of God, the second person of the Holy Trinity. He is fully God.
Jesus is also the Son of Man, which is a title used in the prophecy of Ezekiel and then by Daniel in his Old Testament Book, chapter 7, as a title for the coming Messiah.
The Only Way to God and Heaven
Jesus is the “ladder” that Jacob saw in his dream. This represents that Jesus is the only path to God and to heaven.
As Jesus will say in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (emphasis added).
That path is opened by Jesus’ death on the cross.
Because what barred us from the path was our sin. Jesus’ death on the cross forgives all the sin of all the people of all time.
Two Lessons from This
There are two lessons that I learned from this story that I’m sharing with you and hope you’ll learn, as well.
The first is to not fall to the temptation of thinking you know a story enough. I thought I knew this story and all the references of the “Son of Man” and “angels ascending and descending.” But I didn’t. And I embarrassed myself in the process!
I’ve read these stories of Jacob and Jesus hundreds of times, but I still find I don’t know them as well as I think I do.
The second lesson is that Jesus makes it very clear that he is the only path to salvation and heaven. There are absolutely no other ways.
This isn’t a popular thing to say. It won’t make you a lot of friends.
But it is such an important truth that God weaves it into his Word starting in Genesis. He continues, working it through Ezekiel and Daniel. It finally comes to completion in the Gospels of the New Testament.
And here’s a bonus lesson: it is such an important truth that Jesus didn’t shy away from it. Even when faced with the death penalty for expressing it!
I also find it comforting to know that there is only one way that angels ascend and descend from heaven. That there is only one way for us to get to the Father. And ultimately, there’s no need to spend time searching for alternate ways!
Heavenly Father, thank you for revealing the one truth of salvation – that there is only one way, truth, and life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
© 2018 True Men Ministries