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Divinity of Christ, book by H. H. Pope Shenouda III
9- Jesus' Descent from Heaven
With Respect to His Descent from Heaven
(1) The Lord Jesus Christ says:
"I am the bread which came down from heaven" (Jn. 6:41), and thus He is the Giver of life, 'for the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world' (Jn. 6:33). The Lord Jesus Christ repeats: "I have come down from heaven" (Jn. 6:38), and explains His coming down from heaven by saying:
(2) "1 came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father" (Jn. 16:28). He emphasizes the statement of His coming down from the Father by saying to His disciples: "The Father Himself loves you, because you have loved
Me, and have believed that I came forth from God' (Jn. 16:27). He also repeated this meaning in His discourse with the Jews in the same Gospel, chapter 8, verse 42.
(3) Therefore, Christ is not from earth but from heaven. He came forth from the Father. That was His original dwelling, and His appearance in the flesh among people on earth is because He "made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men" (Phil. 2:7). But He had to ascend to the heavens from which He descended. As for this earth, He existed before its creation, or rather it was He who created it. Yet since eternity He has been in the Father who is His natural or rather His dignified dwelling.
(4) The Lord explained His descent from heaven and His ascension into it to Nicodemus when He said "No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven" (Jn. 3:13). What is meant here by heaven is the heaven of heavens which nobody has ascended to or descended from except Christ, being the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, "who is in the bosom of the Father" (Jn. 1: 18). The heaven of heavens is where the throne of God is, because in the Sermon on the Mount the Lord said that heaven is God's throne (Matt. 5:34). The expression 'the Son of Man who is in heaven' means that Christ was in heaven while He was on earth. Being on earth and in heaven at the same time is proof of His Divinity. The event of His ascension into heaven (Acts. 1:9) is the fulfillment of the words He said to His disciples: "Again, I leave the world and go to the Father" (Jn. 16:28).
(5) Christ not only dwells in heaven, but has authority there. He received the spirit of St. Stephen the first deacon, who said while he was being stoned "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" (Acts. 7:59).The Lord Jesus Christ granted the Penitent Thief leave to enter into Paradise which is the third heaven (2 Cor. 12:2,4), when He said to him: "Today you will be with Me in Paradise" (Lk. 23:43).
Who receives the spirits of the departed and has the authority to let them into Paradise, except God Himself? Christ did that.
(6) Christ also gave the Apostles the keys of heaven.
He said to St. Peter, representing the Apostles: "And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven" (Matt.16:19). And He said to the Apostles: "whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" (Matt. 18:18). Here, we ask a question: Who has the authority to give the keys of the kingdom of heaven to people and give them the authority to bind and loose there except God Himself?
(7) Christ is worshipped by the heavenly powers, and we have discussed this issue before here on st-takla.org in other pages. The Apostle says that "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth" (Philip: 10). The worship of the angels to the Lord Jesus Christ is proof of His Divinity.
(8) Christ is higher than the heavens and He is in heaven interceding for us. St. Paul the Apostle says that "He ever lives to make intercession for them. For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens" (Heb. 7:25,26).
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