The meaning of the word is ‘to raise’, ‘to exalt’. In order to validate the Christian faith, first, you refuse to see ‘wafat’ as death, and then interpret ‘rafa’ as physical ascension. When these two incorrect interpretations are combined, you find that Jesus(pbuh) was raised to the heaven.
Let us examine the use of the word ‘rafa’ in the Quran. The word ‘rafa’ occurred many times in the Quran conveying a meaning of spiritual honor and exaltation. Please note carefully what Allah says in the verse. He is saying that Jesus(pbuh) will be raised towards Him and not towards Heaven. So the question of Jesus(pbuh) being alive in the Heaven can not arise, because he was not raised in the Heaven. In the literal context even if we think that he was raised bodily near Allah, question comes, where is Allah? Is He ensconced somewhere in the sky, in Heaven or in a throne like a king? Didn’t Allah say that He is omnipresent – in other words, He is present everywhere? Would you say that Allah is confined in a physical body towards which He raised Jesus(pbuh)? Please answer, how can Jesus(pbuh) be raised to sky or Heaven when Allah said he will be raised towards Him. And that Allah is present everywhere (2:115); Allah is nearer to man than his heart (8:24); Allah is nearer to man than his jugular vein (50:16).
If that be true, then Jesus(pbuh) could not have been raised physically and bodily in to the sky. If really he was needed to be raised bodily towards Allah, then he could very well stay in Jerusalem, yet be near Allah – because Allah is present everywhere and in Jerusalem too.