In my short time of blogging, my most read article has been Jesus’ Thoughts on “Heaven Tourism” (if you’re not familiar with this term click here). So much so that it has been read twice as many times as any other. It has also been my most controversial. I return to the topic today because I believe the Bible to be abundantly clear on the issue. Today, we’ll briefly look at John 3:13.
“No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.”
The whole idea of heaven tourism works on the assumption that people can leave their earthly bodies, ascend to heaven and then return to tell about it. But, this stands in stark contrast with what Jesus is saying here. Jesus says “no one has ascended into heaven” – this means that the whole assumption of Heaven tourism is wrong from the outset.
But, you may ask – what about So-And-So (actual names: Elijah and Enoch) who, in the Old Testament, went up into heaven (2 Kings 2:11 & Gen 5:22-24)? To that thoughtful question, I do concede that it does make this passage more difficult to understand.
Here, we’re thankful that the Bible isn’t written like fortune cookies – stand-alone sentences – but was written as a book. This particular verse has a context. Placed in a paragraph, which in turn is set inside a chapter, which again is arranged inside a book. This context, helps us to understand what Jesus is teaching here.
There are a few ways one can interpret this passage but here is the most helpful answer I found:
“In this context, Jesus is setting forth His superior knowledge of heavenly things. In essence He is saying, “No other human being can speak from firsthand knowledge about these things, as I can, since I came down from heaven.” He is claiming that no one has ascended to heaven to bring down the message that He brought. In no way is He denying that anyone else is in heaven, such as Elijah and Enoch (Gen. 5:24). Rather, Jesus is simply claiming that no one on earth has gone to heaven and returned with a message such as He offered to them.”
So, in answering your question, we’re still left with Jesus teaching that “Heaven Tourism” doesn’t happen – because no one on earth has gone to heaven and returned to tell of it.
In fact, the one example we do have from the New Testament of someone going to Heaven and returning is that they were not allowed to speak of it (cf. 2 Cor 12:2-4)!
Once again, let’s stop trying to persuade people that “Heaven is for Real” because a little boy says so and instead tell them that Heaven is real because God says so in the Bible.