The nativity texts of Matthew and Luke are most familiar to us as we celebrate the season of Christmas. The implications of the incarnation of Jesus, however, are more apparent in John. For many the revelation of Jesus as the personal Word (Logos) is also understood. John’s prologue to his Gospel and his discussion of John the Baptist’s ministry serve to identify early in the book the titles of Jesus including Logos, Light, Life, and Lord. Another lesser-known title could be added from the discussion with Nathaniel, and that is a “Ladder.” Yes, a Ladder!
After recording the prologue (John 1:1–18) and the initial ministry of John (vv. 9–34) Jesus’ call of the early disciples is recorded (vv. 35–51). The final part of the chapter reveals the exchange between Jesus and Nathaniel. Jesus revealed to Nathaniel that He knew Nathaniel’s inner character as well as where he went and what he did. There is even a subtle hint that Jesus knew the passage of Scripture on which Nathaniel may have been meditating. This brings us to the ladder.
In response to Nathaniel’s confession that Jesus was the Rabbi, the Son of God, and the King of Israel, Jesus alluded to an Old Testament event to let Nathaniel know that what is even greater than the titles is the role that He had come to fulfill. The attributes of omniscience and omnipresence demonstrated to Nathaniel are even said by Jesus to be superseded by the role Jesus will play as Mediator. The allusion in verse 51 is to the dream of Jacob, who saw angels ascending and descending on a ladder between heaven and earth (Gen. 28:12). Jesus affirmed that He Himself in His role as the Son of Man will be a “Ladder” on which angels will be ascending and descending.
Why not put away the Santa Claus and candy canes and pick up a small ladder to lean against your fireplace this year? When people ask you why it’s there, tell them Jesus is not only the Word (Logos) of God, but He is also the Way (Ladder) to God for all humanity. Or maybe you could give a few toy ladders away with your gifts this year, and use the opportunity to tell loved ones that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. They can come to the Father through Him.