If you’re looking for some short video clips that you can use when teaching John 1, I recommend these three:
**Jesus is the Ladder–it’s worth watching the first few seconds for some humor. Stick around for cool scriptural connection you’ve probably never seen before.
**In the Beginning–this clip comes from “The Chosen.” It’s an imaginative reconstruction of how John came to start his Gospel account the way he did.
If you’re interested in learning or teaching about a cool connection Jesus makes between himself and Jacob’s dream, keep on reading…
Jesus is the Ladder
If I were teaching student about the last verse in John 1, I would start with an object lesson, like this one. The purpose of the object lesson is that we sometimes “zoom in” on a scripture verse, but stepping back, or “zooming out” can help us find spiritual insights that we might otherwise miss.
One way to “zoom out” is to look for intertextuality, which is identifying how two different texts relate to each other. Even though “intertextuality” is a fancy word, you’re familiar with it. There’s intertextuality between West Side Story and Romeo and Juliet or Harry Potter and The Lord of The Rings. When studying the New Testament, identifying intertextuality with the Old Testament can be particularly helpful.
Consider the famous account of Jacob’s ladder:
“And Jacob went out from Beer-sheba, and went toward Haran. And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it” (Genesis 28:10–12).
Now compare that passage with the conversation between Christ and Nathanael:
“Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man” (John 1:49–51).
These are the only two verses in all of scripture where the words “angels,” “ascending,” and “descending” all appear together, so clearly it’s an intentional connection. In Jacob’s vision angels are using a ladder to get back and forth from heaven – the ladder is the connection point. But Jesus changes that. He says that angels will ascend and descend on the Son of man. In other words, the link between heaven and earth is not the ladder – it’s the Savior. Seeing this connection helped deepen my understanding of both passages and my appreciation of Christ’s role as our Savior.
Jesus is the ladder–what does this mean to you?
I enjoyed reading Eric Huntsman’s book Becoming the Beloved Disciple: Coming Unto Christ Through the Gospel of John. If you’re on the fence about this book, check out his free article that summarizes some of the book’s key insights.
The Gospel of John is different from Matthew, Mark and Luke. You can sense this from the opening verses and there is a lot to explore in this Gospel account. If you’re interested in a scholarly dive into the Gospel of John, check out Raymond Brown’s An Introduction to the Gospel of John.