“7 Truths: God Walked the Earth”
John 1:1-5; Romans 1:1-7
What do we remember about 1969? For many, there is only one major memory, and that is of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. Where were you when it happened? Who were you with? For the generation of my parents and grandparents, this is a defining moment in their lives.
For those of you who remember, it was exciting wasn’t it? A man. Walking on the moon. Up there. In SPACE!!!
I mean, to go from the first human in space in 1961 to actually walking on an alien surface in just 8 years, it’s pretty impressive. And to think today of all that goes in technology-wise to getting people into space, or rovers on Mars, and how they did all of this with 1960s technology, it’s all very impressive.
Neil Armstrong, and his famous first words from the moon are words which have been repeated many, many times over the last 40+ years.
An interesting side note: after Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon they had 8 hours to rest before they would take their steps. Now, Buzz Aldrin was an elder in his Presbyterian church. He asked, and was given permission, to take the bread and wine from his church and have communion… on the moon! So in the quiet hours they had together, in the silence of the capsule sitting on the moon, Buzz Aldrin sipped the wine and ate the bread he had brought with him.
But to go back to those first steps… we all know the conspiracy theories that the whole thing was staged, that it never really happened, it was filmed in some studio somewhere. There’s this movement of people who seriously doubt it ever happened.
Yet it did. Neil Armstrong took those first steps on the moon, it’s a huge achievement in the history of the world. Something that will always be remembered, even with the people who stand up and oppose it.
This is the second Sunday of our fall series where we are looking at the 7 Truths that Changed the World inspired by a book of the same title written by Kenneth Richard Samples.
Last week we looked at the resurrection, did it really happen? Did Jesus really overcome death? I hope that, for those of you who were hear, or read it later, you agree it did happen.
This week we’re going to look at the life of Jesus from another angle. Christians claim that Jesus is God. Others disagree.
Look at all the fanfare around the steps Neil Armstrong took on the moon, which was reignited with Armstrong’s recent death, and what all this has meant for life on earth, the space program and technology and research in the decades since.
Now think about what God’s steps on earth mean.
I often hear that all religions are the same. And sure, when you boil them down a bit, they might begin to look the same. They all claim to want to bring peace and goodwill. But there are some fundamental differences which keep them apart.
For some, there are multiple gods, like in Hinduism. Others claim one god, like Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Some claim no god, like Buddhism.
But none, well almost none, claim that God came and walked the earth as a man. This is our claim alone.
Other religions recognize Jesus, but as a prophet or a teacher. A wise man with good teachings. But it can’t be just that because Jesus made some pretty bold statements about who he is, where he came from, and where he is going.
He said, “I am the truth, the way and the life, and no ones comes to the Father except through me.”
He said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”
He said, “Very truly I tell you, before Abraham was born, I AM”
This use of “I AM” is key. This is the same “I AM” that God spoke to Moses when he asked, “Whom should I say sent me?” when he was asked to free the Israelites from Egypt.
Jesus is equating himself to God. He is calling himself God.
When you look at everything Jesus has said about himself and his relationship with God the Father, we have to be real with ourselves.
The famous author C.S. Lewis wrote in his book Mere Christianity,
“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
Jesus did not leave this open for debate. He was pretty clear in his teachings who he was. Yet, not everyone believes it.
They say the Jesus was a legend.
Legends take time to build up. Yet the news of Jesus spread very quickly. Statement supporting his position existed before the Gospels were even written down. It all happened in the first generation of believers, so if there were mistakes in the stories or false claims made, those who were eyewitnesses most certainly would have put immense pressure on the authors to get the story straight. And even still, why create a divine man with this backstory, might they instead have chosen a description of his life more in line with what they would have expected based on the prophesies of the Old Testament?
Jesus as a made up legend does not appear as a plausible explanation.
What about the way he is depicted in other religions, as a learned man? One who was a great teacher.
This is hard to imagine as well, because of those things we have already discussed. Sure he taught great lessons about how to treat one another and how to relate with God, but there’s the whole “equating himself to God” piece that would need to be ignored. Again, if Jesus is saying these things about himself, he is either a madman or what he is saying is true.
If Jesus is only a man, then his boasts are anything but great. He is simply a man with a huge ego.
This explanations doesn’t even look at the things he did! Jesus performs miracles. He heals people. He raised Lazarus from the dead! No mere human can do such acts.
These are just a few of the accusations against Jesus and his claims to be God in the flesh.
There is no question he was someone different. Someone the world had never seen before, and has not seen since. He does things no one else can do. He makes claims no one else can make. So what are we to do?
In our readings today, we read from the Gospel of John. These great and wonderful words which affirm that Jesus has been, and will be forever part of God. He was there in the beginning of creation. He went on to walk the earth. And he lives today.
Paul wrote Jesus “was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ…”
Man walked on the moon. That’s a pretty big thing. We cannot deny it, there’s stuff up there they left behind as proof for future generations.
But God walked on the earth. God came from out there, wherever, and walked in His creation. Talking with those who came to Him.
He too has left his mark.
The world changed. People changed. We are the proof. We are the ones today who have been touched and moved by the gift of His Holy Spirit which He sent to dwell among us.
Our God lives.
We live in His family as His children when we too believe what scripture tells us.
God’s love came down from heaven and dwelt among men and women, sharing love, showing mercy, and giving hope.
Hope that in Him, we have life eternal.
It’s His promise.
He said so Himself.