Set Your Minds on Heaven: Jesus and Heaven (Part 1)

Colossians 3:1–2 (ESV)

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 

What is Jesus’ relationship to heaven especially during His time on earth?
1.  Jesus Came Down From Heaven

John 3:12–15 (ESV) 

12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. 

Jesus in a very straightforward way declares the truth that He came from heaven.  As we learned last time that God the Father in a very special way makes His home, if you will, in heaven.  He is omnipresent and yet He, in a special way, resides in heaven.


John 1:1–2 (ESV) 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. 

Jesus tells us that prior to His incarnation He was with the Father.  Again we learned from the Lord’s Prayer and from the Sermon on the Mount that God is in heaven.

Many times in the Bread of Life Discourse Jesus tells us that He is the Bread of Life/Manna and He came from heaven.
John 6:26–51 (ESV) 

26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ ” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” 

35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” 

41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father.47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life48 I am the bread of life49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” 

The Greek word translated come down is the same word the translators of the Greek OT (LXX) used for the manna coming down.  What’s more this word does not simply mean that Jesus descended from Heaven but He descended and in His coming from Heaven He accomplished many things. 

 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.

To go a little further, Jesus literally tells us that He came down out or proceeding out of which can only indicate that Jesus Christ proceeds from the Father.  He is divine.

Now let’s look at the three times God affirmed His Son from Heaven.

Jesus’ Baptism-
Matthew 3:16–17 (ESV) 

16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” 

Never once in all human history has God said these words before.  He is completely and infinitely pleased with Jesus in every way.  Here at last is the true man after God’s own heart.  Here at last is the Second Adam who will redeem His people.  So, pleased is God with His Son that Jesus not only is resurrected but He brings all the elect with Him.

Jesus’ Transfiguration-

Matthew 17:5–6 (ESV) 

He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. 

With a close reading, we notice the word Heaven does not appear in the passage.  Peter, speaking of this event tells us where the voice came from.
2 Peter 1:17–18 (ESV) 

17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 

Jesus’ Prayer Before the Cross-

John 12:27–28 (ESV) 

27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 

So, we have established that the Father is in Heaven and Jesus has proceeded from the Father coming down out of Heaven at His incarnation.  Jesus and His ministry is affirmed and endorsed by God the Father from Heaven.

Jesus’ Ascension Back Into Heaven

Jesus predicted His ascension back to the Father in Heaven.  
John 14:1–3 (ESV) 

14 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 

John 14:12 (ESV) 

12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 

The Ascension of Christ is found in all four Gospels and the Book of Acts.

Luke 24:50–53 (ESV) 

50 And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God. 

The Apostle Paul writes often about the ascension.

1 Timothy 3:16 (ESV) 

16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: 

       He was manifested in the flesh, 

vindicated by the Spirit, 

seen by angels, 

       proclaimed among the nations, 

believed on in the world, 

taken up in glory. 

Here and in other verses the word ascend/taken up is often anabaino.  What’s significant about anabaino is the exact word used again in the Greek OT when the cloud of glory taken up from the Tabernacle…

Exodus 40:36–37 (ESV) 

36 Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. 37 But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. 

The point is that the word really isn’t used too many other places.  So, when the Gospel writers used it for Jesus’ ascension the readers are to connect the glory cloud in Exodus to the glory of Christ.  He is the God who led the Israelites through the wilderness prior to His incarnation.

Acts 1:8–11 (ESV) 

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” 

Now the Disciples are watching Jesus go up into Heaven.  Now lets turn to Daniel 7.  Here is the vision of Daniel from the vantage point of Heaven.  He is in Heaven watching Jesus arrive…

Daniel 7:13–14 (ESV) 

13 “I saw in the night visions, 

       and behold, with the clouds of heaven 

there came one like a son of man, 

       and he came to the Ancient of Days 

and was presented before him. 

14    And to him was given dominion 

and glory and a kingdom, 

       that all peoples, nations, and languages 

should serve him; 

       his dominion is an everlasting dominion, 

which shall not pass away, 

       and his kingdom one 

that shall not be destroyed. 

Daniel 7 is the background for Jesus’ use of the title “Son of Man.” In Daniel 7, the prophet Daniel records several of the visions he was given while living in Babylon. In verses 9–14, Daniel describes the vision he had of God Almighty. In this vision, God (the “Ancient of Days,” [v. 9]) sits in judgment over the beasts that had been ruling the earth. He executes judgment and takes their dominion away from them (vv. 11–12).

The dominion of the earth is taken from the beasts and given to “one like a son of man” (v. 13). This one becomes Lord of all and is given to reign over all “peoples, nations, and languages” in a kingdom that will never end (v. 14).

This son of man, above all else, is a heavenly figure. It emphasizes the origin, majesty, and dignity of this ruler who will rule over all things forevermore. When Jesus calls Himself the “Son of Man,” He is identifying Himself with this heavenly figure from the book of Daniel. We know this to be the case from passages like Mark 13:26 in which Jesus speaks of His coming on the clouds just as the Daniel 7 passage refers to the “son of man.”

Mark 13:26–27 (ESV) 

26 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. 

When Jesus calls Himself the “Son of Man,” He emphasizes His heavenly origin. Moreover, when Jesus calls Himself the “Son of Man” we know that He is the King who will reign forevermore.

Next time, Lord willing, we’ll look at what Jesus is currently doing in Heaven.  

*Resources Used

The Biblical Doctrine of Heaven, Smith

The Glory of Heaven, MacArthur

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