Jesus Crossed Boundaries: Heaven and Earth (Introduction)

Jesus Crossed Boundaries: Heaven and Earth (Introduction)

Jesus Crossed Boundaries: Heaven and Earth (Introduction).

God created many fixed boundaries in His creation of the universe. Some of these boundaries, separating male and female, light and dark, holy and unholy, the Sabbath Day, good and evil, love and hate, and many other examples, were not intended to ever be crossed. But there were some other separations that were waiting for the only Person who could cross the boundaries to reconcile the world as God intended. Jesus united what seemed like impossible differences, He broke many barriers, He joined together what seemed like inherent opposites, only to create something new and fresh out of the new combination. There were curtains and veils all over creation, and some of those barriers seemed unbreakable. Examples might include heaven and earth, God and sin, life and death, the spiritual and the physical. Jesus, to the consternation of the religious establishment, even broke the barrier between those people who were clean and unclean. This entire category in my blog will focus on the crossing of boundaries in Christ’s ministry of reconciliation. My meager thoughts don’t even remotely approach the final word on something this profound and large-scale. My thoughts are more of an exploration than a final discovery. I would like to explore in a preliminary what Jesus accomplished on earth by considering various boundaries He crossed.

There has been a thick curtain between heaven and earth since sin entered the world. Before the fall of mankind in the Garden, Creator God wasn’t shy about showing His face as He enjoyed sweet fellowship with Adam and Eve in the cool of the evening (Genesis 3:8). This is truly what God intended when He created Adam and Eve in His image… Fellowship. The entrance of sin into the world affected all of creation, it impacted the unity between heaven and earth, and it broke the sweet communion enjoyed between God and mankind. A curtain was placed by God between heaven and earth, and God was not willing to show His face as before. God still loved mankind, and He remained ruler of the universe, but where there was once intimacy there is now distance. Yes, God provided signs and wonders and occasional interaction to reveal His presence and loving interest in His world, such as fire, earthquake, smoke, cloud, special angels, the Flood, the Plagues, etc. But God spoke most often through His chosen prophets. God would not reveal His full glory in a sinful world.

Mankind had been seeking God’s face, His tangible presence, ever since their first representatives were expelled from the Garden. All through the Hebrew Bible, actually throughout human history, God’s presence has been sought in a tangible way. The startling vision of Jacob’s ladder in Genesis 28:12-13 is an example. The ladder in Jacob’s dream stretched between heaven and earth, with angels going up and down on the ladder, and the Lord standing at the top, speaking with Jacob. This amazing scene that is central to Judaism reached its fulfillment when Jesus Himself became the ladder when on the Cross, connecting heaven and earth (John 1:51). In Psalm 144:5 David expressed the hope of countless people, “Stretch out Your sky to the breaking point, Yahweh, spread apart Your curtain and come down!” Isaiah 64:1 is much the same, “O, that You would tear open the heavens, rend it asunder! That You would come down!” For many, God could tear the sky open like tearing a piece of cloth or a garment, He could rip the heavens open and come down to earth. And I wonder if that is actually pretty close to what really happened.

In the fullness of time, God’s time, He was bursting with anticipation to show the world His love in a more personal way, and He tore the sky open, and He did indeed come down, just like David and Isaiah asked! When His Son Jesus came from His heavenly home and took on flesh here on earth, The Father couldn’t have found a better, a more complete and effective way, to reveal His eternal lovingkindness for all of mankind. Jesus crossed the boundary between heaven and earth many times, and His incarnation occasioned the opening of the sky often:

  1. In perhaps the most indescribable mystery in Scripture, the Holy Spirit connected heaven and earth by visiting Mary and literally entering into her, “overshadowing” her, and conceiving the Son of God within her. It is an intimate moment for God and for Mary, and the wording in this passage honors the privacy of that profound mystery. Nonetheless, God from heaven joined with Mary on earth, and heaven and earth blended together into one being (Luke 1:35). With the conception of Jesus inside Mary, the spiritual joined together with the material, and the boundary between the physical and the spiritual has been crossed. Creation has now been fused with the Creator in the Person of Jesus. It is now safe to say that we are on shaky ground when we try to divide the material from the spiritual. Secular and sacred have been united in Jesus. It seems now that everything in God’s creation is able to have a spiritual aspect. As we look at creation in light of Jesus, can we say now that creation should not be worshipped , while at the same time everything is spiritual? Jesus combined the earthly with the heavenly, and in the process is going to redeem all of creation. This current world might be broken, but we can’t call it secular anymore.
  2. The angels of heaven couldn’t contain themselves, so the Father gave them permission to fly through heaven’s curtain and appear on earth at Christ’s birth in Bethlehem. The sky was literally filled with these overjoyed angels, and for a moment heaven joined the earth in celebrating the safe arrival of the Son of God;
  3. The baptism of Jesus was a family affair as the Father, the Holy Spirit joined with Jesus in His dedication for ministry, in His solidarity with mankind, identifying with the death and new life available in Him. The holy Trinity was there to witness the occasion, joining heaven and earth. The Father boomed His voice from heaven and gave His intimate father’s blessing over Jesus, telling His Son He loved Him, He was delighted in Him, and was totally pleased with Him here at the start of His ministry. Essentially, the Father confirmed His confidence in Jesus that He would indeed complete His mission on earth. At this point there at the Jordan River, the sky was torn open, it was ripped like a piece of clothing, and the Holy Spirit flew down and lighted on Jesus. The Spirit would remain there for the duration of Jesus’ time on earth. (Mark 1:10-11; Luke 3:21-22). It’s interesting to note that the Greek word Mark used for tear open was “schizomenus”, which means to split asunder, to cleave, to open up. This is the only time in the NT that this word is used, though a form of the same word was used in Matthew 27:51 with the rending of the Temple veil at Jesus’ death.
  4. Jesus joined together heaven and earth on the Mt. of Transfiguration, too (Luke 9:25), complete with heavenly light illuminating His clothes, and a mystical conversation about the departure/exodus of Christ. Right there at the mountaintop, Jesus and the resurrected figures Moses and Elijah engaged in their heavenly chat. Once again, the Father’s voice broke through the heavenly curtain and rejoiced in His beloved Son. The Father loved and believed in His Son, and instructed Peter, James and John to listen to Jesus, obey only Him!;
  5. Christ joined heaven and earth on the Cross, becoming a physical fulfillment of Jacob’s ladder. During His excruciating torture, Jesus now could tell his Father that the mission from heaven was finished. At Jesus’ death, the Temple veil split from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51). We know this was supernatural, because the curtain was 60 feet tall, and of course there were no ladders around at that time to reach the top of a six-story building. No one could have reached the top of this holy curtain and tear downwards, but that wouldn’t have mattered anyway, because it was literally impossible to tear this particular curtain. This was not your living room drapery. It was thirty feet wide and four inches thick, with several layers of thick yarn and twisted linen, so tightly woven together, and so incredibly heavy, that it took thirty priests to lift it during its time for cleaning. At Jesus’ death, the veil of separation was ripped in half, and God’s presence is now available for all. The Holy of Holies is now our heart, the place of God’s dwelling in each of us who are devoted to Him. The blood sacrifice of Jesus means that each believer is now a portable temple containing the very presence of God through Christ in the Holy Spirit. Each of us are sacred because of Jesus, removing the veil that separated the sanctified from the unsanctified. We are all sanctified now. There is no veil.
  6. Jesus once again united heaven and earth at His Ascension (Acts 1:9). Only this time, He didn’t bring the heavenly to earth, He carried the earthly back to heaven. “After speaking these words to His disciples, Jesus was caught up, taken into heaven as the divine cloud received Him and carried Him away through the heavens out of their sight.”

When God parted the sky like a curtain, He tore it open in divine excitement. He couldn’t wait, so to speak, to create an opening and cross the boundary to earth to show His love for mankind. Jesus now joined heaven and earth together, restoring a foretaste of Paradise renewed. It almost seemed like the veil separating heaven and earth was the gift wrapping at Christmas, and the child who couldn’t wait to open the gift. God was like that, anticipating with excitement the time when He could tear the wrapping away to present His gift to the earth. God’s Son broke many barriers, He reconciled many broken pieces of creation that were once separated. There are many more boundaries that Jesus crossed, including the separations of God from sin, the so-called clean from the unclean, the spiritual from the material, the religious from the righteous, the written Torah and the living Torah, and of course the Jew from the Gentile. The final separation that will be crossed is when the King of eternity will bring down the New Jerusalem, the new creation replacing the old creation, the reconciliation of heaven and earth.