My husband and I both for a time worked in the aerospace industry (of course I no longer do, but he still does). The other day we were discussing the future of the space industry, the new ideas for different launch vehicles, and the goals being set by different companies. As we talked about the explorations of the past, through things like the Voyager program, and the hopes for future explorations, I became once again amazed at the unfathomable vastness of this universe. It's size and expanse is truly incomprehensible to us.
Look at some of the facts about this universe:
Then in 1977, as part of exploring this vast universe, The Voyager Program launched two spacecraft, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. The probes explored the planets and moons of the outer Solar System over several decades as it traveled toward interstellar space. On March 20 2013, Voyager 1 became the first human-made object to leave the Solar System and is now the furthest human-made object from Earth, currently 124.34 Astronomical Units away (more than 11 billion miles from our sun). Voyager 2 is speeding along at more than 39,000 mph, but will take more than 296,000 years to pass Sirius, the brightest star in our night sky.
While on its journey, in 1990 Voyager 1 turned its camera back on our home planet and took a picture. This became known as The Pale Blue Dot. Seen from 6 billion kilometers away, the Earth appears as a tiny blue speck in the depths of space. It reminds us how seemingly insignificant the earth is by comparison to the vast expanse of the universe.
However, as small and insignificant as we may seem, we are strangely unique. We are the only planet that is capable of sustaining life. Yet, if we believe that God uniquely created us, that humans on this earth were made in the very image of God, it brings up an interesting question. Why all this stuff in space? Why are all of those huge stars and galaxies and planets necessary? Why are we surrounded by all of this?
Well, it made me wonder. Why would God go about creating all of that? And I understand that much of it really is in place for our benefit. The sun gives us things necessary for life; the moon controls our tides; the gravitational pull of Jupiter protects us from meteor strikes. But then I realized - it just speaks to the awesome wonder of our Creator God. Why wouldn't He fill up space with other wondrous things?
The best analogy I could think of us with our own backyards. No matter what size yard you have, we all try to add something to it simply to enjoy looking at it. And it's not always situated in the same spot. You spread it out. In one corner you plant an azalea bush (or two or three because in the south we love azaleas). In another corner you might have a rose bush surrounded by smaller daisies. And in between you have a small rock garden with a fountain and lilies in the water, maybe a few pansies around the twists and turns of a path. Then you have a nice apple tree in the middle to give you some shade. We do all of that to enjoy the beauty of what we can plant - create - and cultivate. You are the master of your yard and you can design amazing things simply to see their beauty and grandeur.
Think about what all that looks like to something small and insignificant, say, the ant. He's so tiny so all he sees are these monstrous colors spread out across this huge expanse. And he wonders why did someone put that camellia bush so far away that he can barely see it? And it will take him years to travel out there to it, just to see what it smells like.
Consider what all that can also reveal about the gardener. I love to design gardens and pick out different plants and colors and combinations. But I am TERRIBLE about them actually surviving. My son even asked me during one gardening project, "Are you putting that plant in the corner there so it can die too?" So if I had an even bigger yard, you would see how truly inept I am at gardening. But when you have a master gardener and you give them a large space, we usually sit back amazed at the beauty they can create. So the larger the space to garden, the more you can tell about the gardener.
The point is, it occurred to me that the vast expanse, wonder, and grandeur of space - and how much of it is even still undiscovered - all point to the vastness, wonder, and grandeur of our Creator. He is using this universe like His giant garden, planting a galaxy here, a planet over there, and stars all around. He does it with the same purpose that He made us - to bring glory to Himself. It is why we should be in even more awe that a God so incredible who could create the wonders of this universe would care so deeply to desire a relationship with the seemingly insignificant person that I am.
When John the Baptist was sitting in prison, he sent his disciples to ask Jesus if he were the Coming One or if they should look for another. And Jesus responded, "Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them." Jesus pointed to the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies of the miracles that would be worked through the Messiah. It was by these miracles that Jesus proved His deity. It was by the spoken word of Jesus that these works were done instantly and completely. It was that feature that signified to the people that these incidents were supernatural and thus done by someone who is Himself outside of this nature. Granted, these were first century times so they didn't have all of the modern medical devices that we have or all of the scientific instruments and knowledge that we have. But they knew when people were dead. They knew when a person had been blind their entire life, or when they had leprosy, or when they were paralyzed. It wasn't the fact that they didn't understand how nature worked that made the crowds flock to Jesus for healing. It was the fact that they knew how nature worked that told them something un-natural was taking place. The lame don't suddenly get up one day and carry their mats off and the dead don't suddenly walk out of tombs out of a natural process. The people knew it was a supernatural process that could instantly and completely do these works.
The Miracle of the Paralytic
In Mark 2:1-12 (also in Matthew 9:1-8), four people bring their paralyzed friend to Jesus while He is speaking in a crowded house. There was no way for the friends to carry their paralyzed friend's stretcher through the crowd so they climbed onto the roof, dug a hole, and lowered him down before Jesus. Jesus first tells the man that his sins are forgiven, but to show His authority over all things, Jesus tells the man to rise up, take up his mat, and go home.
I honestly didn't think about the completeness of this healing until I had children, which may seem like an odd connection. But after I had my first son, I was able to see the long progression for someone learning how to walk. A child is typically seven to ten months old before they are able to push themselves up on their hands and knees to crawl. Around ten or eleven months, they will start trying to pull themselves upright. Around the one-year mark a child will begin to take those first few wobbly steps. They'll typically take the next six months to one year gaining coordination and balance before they are able to really walk or run. The funniest thing to me was watching how long it took a child to learn how to jump. After conquering running, my son wanted to start jumping. But for the first several months, he would just bend his knees and swing his arms - building up for a huge jump - yet never leave the ground. It was absolutely hilarious! It wasn't until he was three years old that he could actually jump off the ground.
Now let's go back to Jesus' miracle with the paralytic. When Jesus said, "Get up," the paralytic did not have to go through any of those stages to be able to stand up, bend over, pick up his mat, and walk out. Granted, we weren't told if this man had been lame since birth, but for any significant period of time of being immobile, some form of rehab would have been necessary if this healing were of natural means. But there is none of that here. This man is instantly and completely healed. Think about anatomically what all was healed supernaturally and instantaneously. His muscles were no longer atrophied. His joints were not tight and cramped. His bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves worked perfectly - the instant Jesus spoke. His balance was perfect to be able to stand up and then bend over to lift an object. He legs were perfectly coordinated to lift one leg at a time and walk. There was no learning curve. This man who came in paralyzed, unable to move, was instantly and completely healed so that he could walk as though he had been walking his entire life. (To see this illustration even further, take a look in Acts 3 where Peter and John healed in the name of Jesus a man who had been paralyzed since birth who then stood up and leaped!)
Even people in the first century could recognize that kind of healing is not from a natural process. Jesus did not use therapy and ointments to eventually cure the man's ailments. He supernaturally did instantly what nature does slowly. Though this is just one example, you can see that with all His miracles. The nobleman's son was healed the moment Jesus spoke in John 4:53. The man's withered hand was instantly healed in Matthew 12:13. The woman with the flow of blood was healed the moment she touched Jesus' hem.
The Miracle at Cana
The same thing is seen in the very first miracle Jesus worked in the New Testament in John 2 at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. They had run out of wine, so Mary went to Jesus. Jesus told the servants to fill the water pots with water, draw some out, and then take it to the headwaiter. Instead of drinking water though, the headwaiter drank wine, a substance that was chemically different from water. And it was not just cheap wine either. It was the good stuff. The headwaiter commented that most people serve the best wine first and then serve the cheap stuff. But this wedding had saved the best wine for the end! In this miracle, Jesus instantly and completely turned water into high-quality wine. Wine typically takes at a minimum 10-15 days for the fermentation process to complete. But the longer it ages, the better it is. So at this wedding feast, how old would the headwaiter say the wine was? Chemically, how old was the wine? But Jesus had only just then changed it from water into wine! Jesus did instantly and completely what nature does slowly.
To reassure John the Baptist, Jesus pointed to these works that give witness to His deity. However, in John 5:39-47 Jesus also refers to the Scriptures that give witness to His deity. In verses 45-47, He says, "Do not think that I am the One who will accuse you before the Father. There already is one who accuses you: Moses, the very one in whom you have placed your hope for salvation. For if you believed and relied on the Scriptures written by Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me personally. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” The Jews knew what Moses had written but did not believe it. If they doubted those scriptures, then of course they would doubt His words. After the Resurrection, Jesus instructed the disciples. "Then beginning with Moses and throughout all the writings of the prophets, He explained and interpreted for them the things referring to Himself found in all the Scriptures." (Luke 24:27) According to Jesus, the Scriptures that give witness to Him and that are valuable for instruction begin with the writings of Moses.
The Miracle at the Beginning
So what did Moses write about Jesus? Some commentaries may reference Deuteronomy 18:15 as a Messianic prophecy. But that is short-sighted for two reasons. First, Moses didn't only write Deuteronomy. He wrote four other books as well. And if we think Deuteronomy is credible enough to cite Messianic prophecy, then we must find his other books credible too. In other words, if we go about saying that Genesis and Exodus do not qualify as legitimate sources of Scripture from Moses, then who are we to say that Leviticus, Numbers, or Deuteronomy are? When Luke says that Jesus taught from the scriptures "beginning with Moses," why would we think that does not include Genesis? Those were the very first words written by Moses. It doesn't say that Jesus started teaching from the Scriptures about Moses' life but that He started from the words of Moses. He said specifically, "But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?" Maybe we should ask ourselves that today. Furthermore, the first Messianic prophecy we receive from Scripture comes from Genesis 3.
The second reason it is short-sighted to only reference Deuteronomy is that it forgets the Triune nature of God. Because humans are limited in their capacity, we sometimes find ourselves separating out the Trinity into three different Gods. That is simply because it is a difficult concept for us to comprehend. However, we must remember that it was not just God the Father at creation, God the Son at the crucifixion, and God the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. It was the Godhead three-in-one, ever present. John opens his gospel with this very point. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made." The Word was Jesus, and Jesus was in the beginning making all things. Without Jesus, nothing was made.
In talking about Jesus, Paul says in Colossians 1:15-17 "He is the exact living image [the essential manifestation] of the unseen God [the visible representation of the invisible], the firstborn [the preeminent one, the sovereign, and the originator] of all creation. For by Him all things were created in heaven and on earth, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities; all things were created and exist through Him [that is, by His activity] and for Him. And He Himself existed and is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." Paul says again in Ephesians 3:9, "and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ." Jesus was there at the beginning, at the creation of all things. God created through Jesus Christ and all things were created by Jesus, through Jesus, and for Jesus.
And so, the miracle, the supernatural event, of creation was done by the very words of Jesus, instantly and completely. When Jesus spoke, it happened immediately and fully. Jesus spoke light into existence and it immediately appeared and was completely accomplished. When Jesus spoke, the trees, the rocks, the animals, the birds, and the fish all came into existence immediately and completely. The nothingness was immediately and completely changed into something - this universe and all the variety of life that exists. Jesus supernaturally did instantly what nature would do slowly. Nature would slowly change water into wine, but Jesus did it instantly. Nature would slowly heal broken bodies, but Jesus did it immediately by the His spoken word. Those are the works that bear witness of His deity. And those are the words of Moses about Jesus from the very beginning that testify to Jesus. If we can't believe the words of Moses, how can we believe the words of Jesus?