Summary: Epiphany 2 B. Jesus calls Nathanael as a disciple telling him that he will see angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man, a reference to Jacob's Ladder. Christ has united us to the Father, a bridge, ladder, or highway connecting earth and heaven.
“Highway from Heaven”
May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of our hearts, be acceptable in Thy sight,
O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.
Connections. Our lives seem to be all about connections. Our homes need utilities – water, gas, electric. Ever been home when the utilities are out? Nothing can happen without them. And to have them, you have to be connected. Our phones used to be black boxes that hung on the wall. Now they are small as a deck of cards, and travel with us everywhere. Why? Because we want to be connected. We want our phone with us. We’re the one who takes it along. It doesn’t come on its own. You know this if you’ve ever forgotten your phone and left it behind. And the phone has to be connected to the network in order to function.
Connection is essential. If you travel by airplane, you need to make your connection. If not, you won’t be going where you thought you were, or at least, not when you thought you were. In the Gospel today, John shows us the connection we have in and through Christ.
John the Baptist, saw Christ, and said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Two of John’s disciples heard this: Andrew and John, not the Baptist, but the evangelist, the one writing our Gospel. Jesus says come and follow Me. They do. Andrew went and found his brother, Peter, and brought him to see Jesus.
The next day Jesus goes on into Galilee. Now he meets Philip. Philip lived in Bethsaida, the same town where Andrew and Peter lived. Philip runs to find his brother Nathaniel. He tells him, We have found the Messiah prophesied in the Scripture. It’s Jesus of Nazareth. Nathan says, that can’t be, nothing good ever comes from Nazareth. Philip tells him, Come and see. So he does.
Jesus sees Nathaniel as he was coming to him. He says, “Behold an Israel in whom there is no deceit.” Now this was something, as Nathaniel had not met Jesus, nor Jesus Nathaniel. “How do you know?” “Before Philip got you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Now Nathaniel believes. He exclaims, “You are the Son of God and King of Israel.” “Is it only because I said I saw you, that you now believe in Me” replied Jesus. And he tells Him, “You will see greater things, for you will see heaven opened and angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
Now we must ask ourselves, Church, What is the greater thing that Nathaniel will see? Remember Jacob. He was the son of Isaac. It was Jacob who tricked Esau out of his birthright. He put lamb’s skin on his arms, and Isaac who was blind, felt the wool, and thought it was Esau, and gave him the blessing.
Jacob ran away so his brother would not kill him. He was out in the country. Out under the stars. It was night, and he laid on the ground to sleep, and put his head on a rock for a pillow. And what did Jacob see in a dream?
He saw a ladder, a staircase, from the earth to the throne of God. And on the stairway there were angels ascending and descending. God spoke, and said to Jacob that He would bless him and give him the land, even as God had promised to Abraham.
Jacob saw a stairway to heaven, with angels on it going up and going down. What will Nathaniel see? He will see angels going up and going down, but not on a stairway, but on Jesus, the Son of Man. Jesus is the highway uniting earth and heaven. He is the connection.
Angels are the messengers of God. Jacob sees them coming and going. Nathaniel will see them coming and going, too. How? In times past, God sent his words by his messengers – by prophet and by angels. But now, in Christ, He sends His message by His Son.(Hebrews 1:1-2) Christ brings the Word of God; Christ is the Son of God.
The song, Jacob’s Ladder, is a pleasant song to sing. But it has the directions mixed-up. It says, “We are climbing Jacob’s ladder, higher, higher. “ But it is not we who are climbing the ladder. It is the angels. And more importantly, it is not us who need to climb our way up, and ascend to God. No, God has descended. He has come down from heaven to earth. He has come to us in Christ. In our old testament reading today, it was not Samuel who called out to God, but God who called to Samuel. And though outwardly it looked like Nathaniel was coming to Christ, it was Christ who first saw Nathaniel.