And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.John 3:13
Ever present Son of man
This week’s scripture reading on the Son of man in heaven presents a very compelling case for the omnipresence of Jesus Christ. Omnipresence is a big word meaning that God exists everywhere simultaneously, whether it be in heaven or on earth. This is not something easy for the finite human mind to comprehend. In this verse however, Jesus is stating emphatically to Nicodemus the Pharisee that no one has gone up to heaven except the one who came down from heaven. Then Jesus refers to himself as that person in question by identifying himself as the Son of man. Now comes the pivotal point of this verse when Jesus proclaims in the present tense that the Son of man is in heaven! There is absolutely no possibility for him to have been both on earth and in heaven at the same time unless he was truly the Son of God manifest in all his glory.
Jesus is lifted up
But Jesus does not stop at this point during his discourse with Nicodemus which he prefaced by saying he would tell him of heavenly things. He now contrasts how God had instructed Moses to make the image of a serpent as a temporal reprieve as a result of the sins committed by the Israelites and the subsequent punishment from snake bites as referenced in Num. 21:9. People who were bitten by the biting snakes were to look at the brass serpent that was affixed on the pole. Jesus uses this contrast to himself. Jesus then makes a prophetic and comparative statement in how he will be lifted up through crucifixion on the cross as the saviour of the world. The contrast then comes not just by looking at him as the Israelites once did in the wilderness with the serpent but by believing in him as the atonement for sins. This is why Jesus states in the next passage of scripture to Nicodemus, “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” [John 3:15]
Believing in Jesus
For seekers of faith, this is the most important point in the Christian faith, that Christ came to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10) and that believing in him is the pathway to salvation. This is the expression of God’s love toward us in that he sent his only begotten Son from heaven to redeem us (John 3:16), for it was impossible for mankind to redeem himself. This is regardless of what man may teach or profess because there is salvation in no other person than Christ Jesus (Acts 4:12). This is why Jesus stated to the inquiring people that he came down from heaven to do the will of the Father which sent him (John 6:38). Jesus proceeded to describe this metaphorically by proclaiming that he was the living bread, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” [John 6:51] This caused much stir among the Jews because they did not understand that Jesus was speaking of a spiritual nature and not of a physical nature (John 6:63).
He is from heaven
The heavenly origin and descent to earth of Jesus was documented in other sections of scripture for the Son of man in heaven. For example, John the Baptist also stated by contrasting himself to Jesus when he said, “He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.” [John 3:31] During further dialogue with the skeptical religious leaders Jesus also contrasted them to his presence by stating, “And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.” [John 8:23] As time went on, there were similar comments and declarations even from the angels of God who proclaimed to the early apostles after the ascension of Jesus, “Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” [Acts 1:11] Finally, on this note, the apostle Paul also declared by contrasting the first man Adam with the last man Christ Jesus, “The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.” [1 Cor. 15:47]
Words of eternal life
This is where the congruence of scripture comes through and holds true for seekers of faith desiring to learn more about the Son of man in heaven. Many people come to the Bible and its scripture looking to find fault or error in it but as the apostle Peter once proclaimed about Jesus, there was no other choice but to follow him, “Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” [John 6:68] Why does Jesus have the words of eternal life, because the Lord Jesus Christ is the great I am of the scriptures. Consider the discussion he had with the unbelieving Jews, “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” [John 8:58] On the surface, one may think little of this declaration but to the Jewish audience they knew exactly what he was saying because in the very next verse it was noted how they took up stones to stone him to death for his apparent blasphemy.
But what blasphemy did the Jews think he committed? One only needs to read their reaction to Jesus’ comments and bold declarations of deity which they later confirmed in another discussion, “The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.” [John 10:33] But this occurred over and over and yet they did not understand who he was as the Son of God. And, if they did, they refused to believe out of envy (Matt. 27:18). For they feared that if Jesus was recognized as the Son of God, their own rule and authority would diminish and the Romans would come and take away their position in society and their nation. (John 11:48).
No mere man
But Jesus was no mere man for a common man of that culture and community could not have proclaimed the statements he made without authentic claim to deity or divinity. Consider how Jesus described himself time and time again as the bread of life, as the light of the world, as the door of the sheep, as the good shepherd, as the resurrection and the life, as the way, the truth, and the life, as the true vine. While many of these are expressions of a figurative nature they all have the common thread or plumb line that he is the one sent from the Father to redeem mankind back to God. This confirms why Jesus proclaimed to Nicodemus during his discourse, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” [John 3:17]
Believe for salvation
In closing off this Bible study, the above statement from Jesus brings us back to the word that he used on several occasions, 47 times to be exact just in the gospel account according to John! That word is belief. Consider it the entrance way by which the new spiritual birth in Christ takes place within your spirit. This is why Jesus continued on by stating, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” [John 3:18] Believe is referenced three times in that one verse due to its utmost importance in coming to saving faith in Christ. It is not merely knowing what Jesus has done for you, it is believing in what Jesus has done for you.
But sadly, there will still be many who, despite having a knowledge of his saving faith through his death, burial and resurrection, will choose not to walk any longer with him (John 6:66). Others will prefer their continuance in a life of sin instead of being redeemed by the true light, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” [John 3:19-20] What about you who are reading this Bible study? Will you believe in him for salvation or will you turn your back on him in preference for a life of sin? As Jesus concluded his words to Nicodemus it was he who stated that those who seek and do truth will come to the light (John 3:21). For it was Jesus who proclaimed to those Jews who believed in him, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” [John 8:32]
Bible Study Question
- In this study on the Son of man in heaven, how would you describe the attribute of omnipresence of God to someone who was asking?
- True or false, although Nicodemus was unsure of what Jesus was saying he eventually became one of them as a believer? Hint John 7:51.
- The stumbling block that held back Nicodemus from understanding the words of Jesus was because he thought Jesus was taking about physical birth, true or false? Hint John 6:63
- Which apostle proclaimed that Jesus had the words of eternal life? Hint, see section Words of eternal life.
- Fill in the blanks in this verse. He that _______________ on him is not condemned: but he that ____________ not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
- Why do you think people still decide to walk away and not follow Jesus even after learning the truth is in him?
- If you found the truth of Jesus in this study, please consider sharing it with someone you love.