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Scott P. Richert

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Jacob's Ladder

By March 19, 2014

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Scaffolding for a range light on Lake Michigan. (Photo © Scott P. Richert)

(Scaffolding for a range light on Lake Michigan. Photo © Scott P. Richert)

In Genesis 28:10-19, the patriarch Jacob dreams of a ladder, rising from the earth into Heaven. Watching, he saw "the angels also of God ascending and descending by it." In John 1:51, Christ tells His disciple Nathanael that He is Jacob's Ladder: "Amen, amen I say to you, you shall see the heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man."

There is no way to Heaven but through Christ, and all who wish to be saved need to avail themselves of Jacob's Ladder. But the climb is not one that we make alone. In The Ladder of Divine Ascent, the most famous use of the story of Jacob's Ladder as an analogy for the spiritual life, the sixth-century Eastern Christian monk St. John Climacus urges his readers (primarily fellow monastics) to place themselves under a spiritual father and to remain in community. Those who attempt to root out their sins and conquer their passions by themselves quickly fall, and, like the man cleansed of the demon in Luke 11, "the last state of that man becomes worse than the first" (Luke 11:26).

When we see someone we care about struggling, we often say, "You don't need to go it alone." But when it comes to our own struggles, we all too often reject the help of others. If we wish to make spiritual progress, we need to accept the help of others. Then we can grow together in grace.

Christ is the only way to salvation, but our fellow Christians are the girders that help us see Jacob's Ladder for what it is: the strong and sure path to Heaven.

More (Almost) Wordless Wednesdays for Lent:

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Comments
February 24, 2010 at 9:43 am
(1) Heather! says:

Visiting from Wordless Wednesday….What a fantastic shot! Love the angle, and you couldn’t have asked for better colors. Love it!

February 24, 2010 at 9:59 am
(2) Connie G. says:

Scott – great words today. I am struggling through a patch of personal troubles right now and the only way I can make it is by relying on the prayers of friends and family. I am not to proud to ask for help – we all need someone to lean on sometime or another.

February 24, 2010 at 10:22 am
(3) Nancy says:

Scott, this photo is fantastic – I hope everyone reads your powerful words, too. Our Sunday homily was all about this – in relationship to Lent, in particular. We can’t do anything alone.

February 24, 2010 at 10:43 am
(4) Pat says:

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12)

I love the story of Jacob’s ladder and this photo is a great visual of a ladder to heaven. I just recently taught this lesson in my after-school Bible club for kids. What an amazing and powerful dream Jacob had. It was one of several experiences that changed him from being a deceiver to a man of God

February 24, 2010 at 12:14 pm
(5) Beth says:

This really resonates with me as well. During this past couple months, if it weren’t for for the support of God himself as well as his wonderful minions (in the form of family and friends) I’d have had a much tougher time getting through some severe health issues. :D

February 24, 2010 at 9:19 pm
(6) Sukhmandir Kaur says:

Very interesting perspective and such a rich color. I don’t much care for heights. I think I would personally rather climb a spiritual ladder than that one as ascension depends much on mercy and grace and not my own precarious foothold.

February 24, 2010 at 10:28 pm
(7) Donna Pilato says:

Great photo and perfect illustration of your lesson today.

February 26, 2010 at 6:39 am
(8) Imelda says:

After reading ‘Stairaway to Heaven’, the first thing that sprang to mind is – what a great analogy.

March 6, 2013 at 2:00 pm
(9) Agnes says:

Stairway to Heaven and Jacob’s Ladder both made me do some serious thinking. Thank you!

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