Philae is a probe which landed on a comet 6.4 billion Kilometres away from earth. The jubilant scenes from command centres and universities were infectious, and naturally brought a smile to my face. It really is quite remarkable that after ten years of traveling through space this small robot has landed on a comet (nicknamed ‘Churi’).
As I drove to work one day I was listening to a Professor from Queen’s University speak about the mission. He talked about how we will now find out where life came from in the universe, and shared his hope that we would find water on this comet (which he called one of the building blocks for our solar system). However, he went further than that. He spoke of this mission as sending an ‘emissary from earth’ to space.
6.4 billion Kilometres into deep, dark space little Philae is our representative.
As I reflected on this discussion of where life originated, I was struck in particular with this phrase ‘emissary from earth’. The Professor’s voice came to life as he related the fact that this mission had actually succeeded in placing a little robot on this comet (which is only three miles long – very small when you consider the distance covered to make it there). Ten years of waiting and hoping came to fruition.
Ultimately Scripture paints a very different picture of where life originated. The Bible states explicitly that life originated in God (Gen. 1-2; Jn. 1:1-18). Yet this life disrespected and abused by his creation (Gen. 3:1-13). The amazing thing is that instead of ending life, God promised a new life that would be delivered by Eve’s offspring (Gen. 3:15) – a life where the serpent would be defeated.
The nation of Israel held on to this hope which was given. Although, it took much longer than ten years for this hope to be realised by God’s people. Judges, kings and prophets came and went and still this promised life did not appear. In fact, the Israelites who had been promised so much were a divided, rebellious, homeless and apparently defenceless people by the end of the Old Testament.
This, mercifully, was not the end.
Rather than an ‘emissary from earth’ to find life, Scripture teaches us that an emissary to earth brought life. Thousands of years, hundreds of generations and 39 books later the promised offspring arrived bringing life. Jesus Christ was God’s emissary to earth. He was as good an emissary as anyone could hope for – an embodiment of the sender, God in the flesh.
His great proclamation was ‘I came that they may have life and have it abundantly’ (Jn. 10:10). Jesus brought life with him, and made that life ours through his substitutionary death for us.
Amazingly this abundant life begins now, because as Jesus changes us through his indwelling Spirit we find a satisfaction in life that comes with the renewing of our thinking. We see work, money, sex, authority, friendship etc for what they are – good but temporary gifts from God. Therefore, we have life abundant because we do not hope in or trust work, money, sex, authority, friendship etc but rather we enjoy these things.
Nevertheless, we must still wait because there is a day coming when life will be renewed in a fuller way. God’s emissary to earth left again after his death for us. But there remains another promise, a promise that he will return once more. When he does the hope is that this life that he brought will then be fulfilled in a New Heaven and a New Earth as his people possess New and Glorified Bodies.
God’s people may have to wait another thousand years for this emissary to earth to return and bring this promised fullness of life. However, if his first arrival on earth has taught us anything, it has taught us to wait patiently because he keeps his promise.
With this in mind let us pray this prayer:
Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.
Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne.
Words by Charles Wesley.