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John 1:43-51

“Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, ‘Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!’ Nathanael said to him, ‘How do you know me?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.’ Nathanael answered him, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’”

We have been covering the person and work of Christ in our focus on the biblical, Reformation principle of solus Christus—Christ alone. Studying the encounters Jesus had with people also helps us understand who our Lord is and what He has done. We will now examine several such encounters using Dr. R.C. Sproul’s teaching series Face to Face with Jesus as our guide.

Among the most striking realities of the modern West is the deep feeling of alienation that people experience. Because of technology, we are more connected to one another than ever before. Yet at the same time, we seem more disconnected from one another than we ever have been. Many of us do not know our neighbors. We experience an emotional separation between each other as individuals but also between us and our society, our occupations, and our purpose.

Scripture explains why this sense of alienation exists, telling us that it is rooted in our separation and estrangement from our Creator. Hav-ing broken God’s law in Adam, sinners find themselves hiding from God and blaming one another for their predicament (Gen. 3:1–13). Our alienation on the human level can be remedied only by reconciliation between us and God, so it is understandable that the Old Testament contains many accounts of joy and celebration when people found access to the presence of God. For example, several psalms extol the beauty and joy that people found when they went up to worship God in the Jerusalem temple (Pss. 26:8; 27:4). Consider also the joy that Jacob expressed when he met the Lord in the wilderness and had his vision of a ladder (Gen. 28:10–22). This ladder, on which angels ascended and descended, connected the earth to heaven, providing a means of access to God’s presence.

Jesus references this story in His meeting with Nathanael, as recorded in John 1:43–51. Nathanael is certainly correct that Jesus’ knowledge of his location before meeting him was amazing, but Jesus says that the greater sign will be when Nathanael sees angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man (vv. 48–51). Our Lord’s message is clear—He alone is the means of access to God’s presence. He is Jacob’s ladder.

That Jesus is the only way to heaven is not popular in our pluralistic and relativistic society, but we profess that He alone can reconcile us to our Creator not on our authority but on the authority of Christ. We must never compromise on the fact that Jesus alone is the way, the truth, and the life (14:6)

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Human beings try to ascend to heaven in various ways, always relying on their own merit for entry into eternal life. But there is no other way to God than through Jesus. We cannot enter heaven on our own merit; neither will Muhammad, Buddha, Krishna, or any other figure take us there. If we do not tell other people that Jesus is the only way to God, we are not truly loving them.

For Further Study
  • Leviticus 16
  • Ezekiel 43:1–9
  • Mark 15:33–39
  • Hebrews 10:19–22

Christ Ascended

Jesus Meets a Samaritan Woman

Keep Reading Why We Are Reformed

From the May 2017 Issue
May 2017 Issue