“Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”
The Lord’s first encounter with Nathaniel is both interesting and profoundly instructive. His declaration of Nathaniel as an Israelite in whom is no guile hearkens back to the patriarch Jacob, the progenitor of the Israelite people after Abraham and Issac. Unlike Jacob, who was known for his schemes and deception, Nathaniel was rather and open book. At his confession of Jesus as the Son of God, the King of Israel, the Lord declared that Nathaniel would see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending upon Him. Again we have a reference to Jacob, who dreamed of a great ladder that stretched from heaven to earth on which angels ascended and descended (Genesis 28:12). What is the significance of this? All religions recognize that there are two planes of existence, two worlds of which humans are aware. There is the earthly world of our every day experience, and then there is the heavenly, perfect world which we aspire to see and experience one day. Religion recognizes that a rift has developed between the two worlds. Religion’s job is to offer ways in which humans may build a ladder to that perfect, heavenly world. They may differ in the details, but religions everywhere operate on the presumption that man can, by his own efforts, reach that heavenly, perfect mode of existence. Christianity is different. Christians recognize that a rift between the two realms has occurred and they trust the Bible’s explanation as to why. “Your iniquities have separated between you and your God,” wrote the great prophet Isaiah, “and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). We look at the competing faith systems out there and we are justly impressed with their zeal, their devotion, and their monumental efforts to reconcile heaven and earth. Impressive though these efforts may be, they are useless in bringing the two worlds into harmony. The ladder must be heaven’s rescue attempt; the gap can only be bridged from above. What amazing grace! God has done this very thing; the Lover of our souls has become our living avenue to a restored relationship with the holy God of heaven!
May this meditation give you renewed strength for the day. God bless,