And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” John 1:51
The Martian And Mark Watney’s Connection
I just finished reading the book The Martian by Andy Weir. And if you’ve already read the book or seen the movie you know that Mark Watney, a mechanical engineer and botanist, is left stranded alone on mars–for a very very long time.
He’s alone but he’s alone in a way no one has been alone before. He’s the only living creature on the entire red sand desert, unbreathable atmosphered, super frigid temperatured planet. Mark Watney spends every day on that planet just trying to figure out how to survive. But there’s one place in the book where he talks about this great connection he has that makes all the difference. His connection is with a team of scientists in Houston. Watney says, “Sometimes I miss the days when I made all the decisions myself. Then I shake it off and remember I’m infinitely better off with a bunch of geniuses deciding what I do…”
That “bunch of geniuses” at NASA are what bridges the chasm in the cosmos, the chasm between Mark Watney on Mars and his home on Earth. Without that connection, Mark Watney would surely die.
Us Earthlings–And Our Connection
The words from the scripture at the top of this post were the words Jesus said to Nathanael during their first meeting together: “…angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” But it’s not the first time we see these words in the Bible.
After Jacob stole Esau’s blessing, Esau plots to kill Jacob for revenge. So Jacob flees. He journeys across the desert toward Paddan-aram, and on his way he stops for the night at a place called Luz. Camping in the desert requires a little improvising so he finds a rock to use as a pillow and he lays down to sleep. And while he sleeps he has this dream. In his dream there’s a ladder that connects earth and heaven. “And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it” (Genesis 28:10-12)
These are the same words Jesus used while speaking with Nathanael. But in Jacob’s case we see the angels ascending and descending on a ladder that connects heaven and earth. In Jesus’ case we see the angels of God ascending and descending on Jesus.
So here’s the thing: it turns out the ladder Jacob saw is a who, not an it. Like Mark Watney’s connection–the “bunch of geniuses” working around the clock to bring him home from Mars–Jesus is our connection from Earth to our home in Heaven. It’s like that line about Jesus from the David Crowder Band, “Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss.” Jesus uses the same language from Jacob’s night on the rock because Jesus is the way heaven meets earth. Jesus uses the same language from Jacob’s night on the rock because Jesus transcends the chasm between heaven and earth. He’s the conduit. Jesus is the connection.
Jesus is the ladder.
Here at one of the very earliest gatherings of disciples around Jesus, we learn what they would learn over the course of the following three years: Jesus is the ladder.
Alone And Weary On This Planet
Maybe you feel alone on this Earth. Maybe you spend every day on this planet just trying to figure out how to survive. Maybe you’re longing for a connection. The kind of connection that makes you infinitely better off. Maybe you’re weary of your time on this planet and you’re longing for a connection with heaven and your Father who dwells there.
If you want to connect with heaven, if you want to connect with God the Father, Jesus is the ladder.
Jesus is the connection who makes you infinitely better off.
Jesus is the way.
Like Nathanael did, follow him.
[Image via Chechi Palnado – Creative Commons]