“No one has ascended to heaven but he who came down from heaven, that is, the son of man who is in heaven.“ (John 3: 13)
Jesus spoke these words to Nicodemus, and he was clearly on the Earth. Yes He tells him both that He has come down from heaven and also that He is in heaven. this can only mean one thing: Jesus was on Earth and in heaven at the same time.
Have we really got the significance of this? We are raised up with Him, and we are seated with Him in heavenly places. We know the Scriptures. But as we walk around on Earth, how often do we remember where we are at the same time? Jesus could do what His father did, hear what His Father said and see what His father saw, because He was there in heaven with him. It’s not difficult to hear someone’s words or see what they’re looking at if you are sitting next to them.
Jesus made it clear that the kingdom of heaven is “within us.“ This idea seemed like a mystery to me for many years, because somehow I think I was trying to reconcile earthly dimensions with the heavenly infinite. But now I see it like this: the Kingdom of Heaven is within us because our spirits are within us, and since our spirits are seated in heavenly places, the heavenly places are within us as well. Wherever we are, the Kingdom really is at hand; as much now as when Jesus first told the disciples to preach that message 2000 years ago. This is hardly an original thought, I know; but I suspect for many of us the fullness of the truth that we are the carriers of the Kingdom still has to penetrate our hearts.
So of course, the big question is this: why don’t we see more of the kingdom around us if we carry within us wherever we go? I think one of the reasons maybe found in Matthew 11:12: “ The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” Who are the violent? Certainly not people who start fights and carry weapons. The “violent” are people who are determined and forceful, those who push their way in. You can’t force your way into something by just reading about it, thinking about it or even writing about it. I think Jesus may have been thinking about the “violent” when He said to the church at Laodicea that they were lukewarm, and that He would rather they were hot or cold. And He told the Ephesian church that they had to regain their first love – the love for Jesus that Paul had obviously stirred in them just one generation earlier. They had lost their violence.
Jesus has given us the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever our understanding of those keys may be, one thing is true: we are not going to grasp hold of them if are holding onto the world. if we don’t actually walk that narrow difficult way (Jesus’s words, not mine – Matt 7:14) where they are to be found, we cannot really expect the windows of heaven to open in such a way that the treasures held within will pour through and enrich the barrenness of our patch of Earth. We need to be “violent” to stick to the path. We need to be like John Bunyan’s Pilgrim, not the man at the pool of Bethesda (John 5: 2-8) , who saw the water move but only for other people. Like him, we can lie on our beds (or sit on our sofas) and wonder why it don’t seem to be moving around us and around our churches in the way it is apparently moving in other places. But what did Jesus say to the man who was healed? It wasn’t “Get up and jump into the pool;” it was “Pick up your bed and walk.“ His healing came from walking.
There is only one way that the Bible says God’s children are to walk: that is after the Spirit, by faith, and yes, on water. (See “Stepping out of the boat.”) We can only walk after the Spirit (think of Him in front of us, and we are following after!) if we can see where He is walking, and that is only possible when we have pushed through the distractions and temptations of the world and the flesh to be connected to Him in the heavenly places that we carry around in our hearts.
The Lord said to Joshua, and therefore to us, in Christ:
“’If you will walk in My ways,
And if you will keep My command,
Then you shall also judge My house,
And likewise have charge of My courts;
I will give you places to walk
Among these who stand here.” (Zech 3:7)
Jesus was on Earth and in Heaven at the same time, and so are we; and it’s when we consciously walk in both places at once that the will of Heaven can be done on Earth. We often ask the Lord in our prayers and our worship songs to “come down.“ However, this is the prayer of the man who waits by the pool of Bethesda; it’s not for the child of God. We need to remember that we have been lifted up, and start to walk in the place to which we have been lifted.