Still more does the gospel reveal this intimate sympathy between the spirit-world and man. Angels are present in the assemblies of believers (1 Cor. 11:10). The angels of children behold the face of their Father who is in heaven (Matt 18:10). Yea, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth (Luke 15:10). The special promise of this first reiterated Amen is, that henceforward man shall be conscious of this heavenly host, and “shall see angels, ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
The old man sees nothing of this. To the eye of sense heaven is closed; the ministers of heaven are unperceived, though they are on every hand. But with the new man and his new life comes, first the faith, and then the knowledge, of ministering spirits ever present to keep us in our way. It was so with Christ: it is so when He is formed in us. Angels were heard singing at His birth (Luke 2:9, 13); angels guide His early steps (Matthew 2:13); angels minister to Him in His temptation in the wilderness (Matt. 4:11); angels appear strengthening Him in the garden (Luke 22:43); angels at His grave roll away the stone, and declare that He is not here but risen (Matt. 28:2, 6). He is seen of angels (1 Timothy 3:16) first and last. And as He is, so are we in this world. For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. And therefore we also, even as He, need and receive this heavenly help, while for a season with Him we are lower than the angels. For the new man’s life under opened heavens calls for heavenly help. Worldly aids are not enough for this calling. Opened heavens do not deliver man from present want.
He to whom heaven was opened immediately hungered (Matthew 4:2), and was with the wild beasts (Mark 1:14). Nay, opened heavens open hell. The voice from heaven, witnessing that we are [sons-#5207-Huios] of God, is at once followed by a voice from hell, calling us to question and doubt our right to this title (Matthew 3:17 and 4:3). Often in such temptations nature seems in peril of dissolution; but the hosts of heaven are close at hand. And like the prophets servant, when our eyes are opened, (and it is the inward eye alone which sees these things,) we perceive that chariots and horses of fire are all around, and that they that are with us are more than they that are against us (2nd Kings 6:17). Thus does “heaven opened” show “angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man,” and that the servants of our Father’s house are near. Surely, as one said of old, “he must be the king’s own son, on whom the servants of the king ascend and descend (Chrysostom, in Johanness Hom. 21§1); he must be the heir of heaven to whom the heavens open.
This, then, is the witness of this “Amen, Amen.” Heaven is the home of the new man, and holy angels are his servants and companions. Till man finds this home he cannot rest. He may be a wanderer in a desert land, or a captive in prison, though he knows it not, or a madman, dreaming of wealth, while he is in beggar’s rags; but whilst he is of the world, he has no home, for the world has still no heart (Hosea 7:11), and “without hearts there is no home.”
But the home is not far off. Heaven is near, for God is near; and the kingdom of heaven is henceforth open to all who can believe God. Oh, that He who went before us may lead us in His way, to see that wondrous sight, so often partially, so soon fully to be, known, when opened heavens shall be seen by all, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together (Isa. 40:5). As Christ’s members we are called to share this even now with Him. One work of His promised Holy Spirit is to take of the things of Christ, (and He says, “All things that the Father hath are mine,”) and to show them unto us. But only as we are partakers of His experience can we come where He is gone before. He came to opened heavens by baptism, fasting, and temptation; by a transfiguration, by the cross, by resurrection. There is yet no other way. Flesh and blood cannot enter the kingdom. There is but one way by which our nature can be brought to God, and that is shown in Christ Jesus. This is the special burden of the next reiterated Amen, “Verily, Verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”