This drives home the true meaning of the word ‘rafa’ – exalt in honor and/or exalt in spiritual dignity. This verse tells us that while the Jews were planning to kill him, (he will not be killed, rather) Allah will cause him to die a natural death and sanctify him against the charges of the enemies. Once again, please notice the sentence: Ya Isa, inni mutawaffika WA rafi’uka ilaiya… that is ‘rafa’ will take place only after the ‘wafat’. ‘Rafa’ after death can not mean physical ascension, but only exaltation in rank. This is more implied when the words ‘I shall clear you of those who reject Faith’ are present with it. This shows that while Jews plotted heinous crime against him, and brought him utter disgrace and condemned him as a cheat and planned to put him to a shameful death on the cross etc. Allah will instead save him and exalt him in honor and dignity.
Since the use of the word ‘rafa’ raised Jesus(pbuh) alive, the use of the same word in case of other prophets must do the same thing! Ask yourself, if you know of any other prophet who was raised alive in the Heaven? None? What about Prophet Idris(pbuh)? Regarding Idris(pbuh) Allah says in Surah Maryam 19:57 as: And We raised him to an elevated state. (WA rafa’naa hu…). The use of ‘rafa’ here should prompt you to declare that Allah raised Idris(pbuh) in alive condition in the Heaven or at least to a place hanging high above. If we apply the same logic, in case of Jesus(pbuh), use of the word ‘rafa’ kept him alive for 2000 years; therefore the same use of the word ‘rafa’ in case of Idris(pbuh) must keep him alive for 2000 years or so. The problem now is about these two alive people in the Heaven – Jesus(pbuh) and Idris(pbuh). The Muslims already made stories and speculations that Jesus(pbuh) will descend from the Heaven in the later days, but what about Idris(pbuh)? Has Idris(pbuh) come down already or when is he going to descend or is he going to stay there perpetually?