True House of God

Jesus is the true and only way of access to the Father, the Greater Bethel, and the House of God – John 1:47-50. 

Small Country Church - Photo by Harry Miller on Unsplash
The gospel of John presents Jesus as the
True House of God and the means of access to the presence of God. He is the Greater Bethel, the “house of God,” and from now on, heaven is open to all men, and angels are “ascending and descending” on the “Son of Man.” What Jacob saw in an ancient vision has become a concrete reality in Christ - [Small Country Church - Photo by Harry Miller on Unsplash].

One day, Philip told Nathanael that “we have found him of whom Moses wrote.” He did not call Jesus the “messiah”, but he did describe him as the one attested by the “Law and the Prophets,” a key theme in John’s gospel since he is the fulfillment of the promises of God found in the Hebrew Bible.
  • (John 1:47-50) – “Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him and says concerning him — See! Truly, an Israelite in whom is no guile.  Nathanael says to him: From where do you know me? Jesus answered and said, Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you. Nathanael answered, Rabbi! You are the Son of God: You are King of Israel. Jesus answered: Because I said, I saw you under the fig tree, you believe? A greater thing than these will you see!

JACOB’S LADDER

In the passage, Jesus gives more than a brief on Nathanael’s character (“An Israelite in whom is no deceit”). His words anticipate the interpretation and application of an event from the life of Jacob to the “Son of Man.”

Upon hearing Jesus linked to Nazareth, Nathanael declares, “What good can come out of Nazareth?” Nevertheless, he did go to see what this man was all about - (Genesis 28:10-19).

In the popular etymology, ‘Jacob’ means one who “supplants” or “deceives.” The Greek noun for “deceit” found in John 1:47, dolos, is the same term found in the Greek Septuagint version in the Genesis account (“Your brother came with DECEIT and has taken away your blessing” - Genesis 27:35).

Deceiver” is an apt description of Jacob’s character until it was transformed by his encounter with an angelic figure. That event resulted in his name being changed from ‘Jacob” to ‘Israel,’ as well as his vision of the “ladder to heaven.” During his journey to Haran, Jacob slept using stones for a pillow on which he dreamed of angels ascending and descending on the “ladder” between the earth and the heavens.

Then, Yahweh promised to give the land on which Jacob slept to his descendants.  On that spot, he constructed an altar out of the same stones he used for his pillow, poured out an offering, and then called the place ‘Bethel’ or “house of God.”

CHRIST’S CLAIM

In contrast to Jacob, Nathanael is a true Israelite without deceit.  He is so impressed with Jesus that he ascribes two messianic titles to him: Son of God and King of Israel.  But according to Jesus, he will see even far greater things (“You will see heaven set open and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man”).

Christ’s declaration is prefaced with the formula, “Amen, amen,” a transliteration of the Hebrew word for affirming what is true. This is the first of twenty-five times this formula occurs on his lips in John’s gospel.

Jesus makes no mention of a “ladder”; instead, from that time forward angels will ascend and descendupon” him, namely, the “Son of Man.”

According to Jewish tradition, the original ‘Bethel’ is located on the site where the Temple was built. In contrast, ever since his death and resurrection, Jesus has been the true mediator between “heaven and earth.  Calvary has opened the way for all men to access God by faith (John 8:28 - “When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am he").

Thus, Jesus claims to be the true and final means of access to God, in contrast to the Temple in Jerusalem.  Jacob’s ‘Bethel’ was temporary and foreshadowed the Greater “House of God” that now has been established in the Messiah.

And that is why Jesus can claim - “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me.”

Today, the presence of God is accessible wherever Jesus is, and men and women no longer must journey to the Temple in Jerusalem to communicate with Him or access His presence and glory. The way is open to all, and on the same basis, namely, the “Son of Man.”



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