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Christian Biblical Studies
THE VISITOR FROM OUTER SPACE
By Lee Bridges
Bible references are to the Anglicised New International Version (NIV-UK) unless noted otherwise.
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
John 1: 14 – King James Version (KJV)
IS THERE ANYBODY THERE? Recent researches claim to have significantly raised the odds that we are not alone in the universe. Astronomers find that there are many more stars ‘out there’ than previously thought, and biologists postulate the existence of life-forms that use a different chemistry than the inhabitants of planet Earth.
Traditionally, the quest of astrobiologists has been to find an earth-like planet in the habitable zone of a nearby star. Such a planet would, presumably, have just the right temperatures for liquid water to exist and perhaps suitable chemical ingredients for the formation of complex molecules necessary to living organisms.
In other words, are we looking for ourselves out there?
The Biblical Perspective
This new perspective on life and our place in the universe is one more step in a long tradition of demoting humanity from its self-proclaimed position of importance. It was once thought that the earth was at the centre of the universe, that we were the pinnacle of evolution. Today, we know that we are no more than a tiny part of a vast universe, that we are composed of elements that make up only a small percentage of that universe, and our basic chemistry may be only one version of what might legitimately be called life. But is there any evidence of life, specifically intelligent life, beyond the confines of Planet Earth?
Surprising as it may seem, there are many scientists who are well able to reconcile the advancing knowledge of astrobiology with the somewhat sketchy accounts of creation found in Scripture. Scoffers might ridicule, but their impatience may well be the result of the centuries-long misconceptions of Christians themselves, whose teachings have been based on superstition and fear, masterminded by Satan, the great deceiver himself – one whom we might well regard as an alien from outer space.
There is no doubt that in Old Testament and in New Testament times, the existence of other-worldly beings was not doubted. David, a man beloved by God, marvelled (Psalm 8: 3-5):
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honour.
David refers of course to the angels, an order of intelligent beings dwelling apart from earth, in a sphere beyond man’s physical observation, but known through their interaction with the human race from the earliest recorded times. Astrobiological research on the existence of ‘heavenly beings’ is conspicuously lacking, which may reflect the Lord’s reminder that ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’ (Isaiah 55: 9)
Little is revealed in Scripture as to the life-forms of angelic beings. Their interaction with people on earth has been sometimes by materialisation – assuming human appearance, or by some supernatural vision. The delightful account of an Angelic visitation to shepherds watching their flocks by night, announcing the birth of a Saviour, Christ the Lord, is recounted every Christmas season with evident pleasure, but little enquiry as to the factual nature of the event. As a slightly lower order of creation than angels we humans are at present confined to our own sphere, and it remains to be seen whether the great Creator will in due time introduce us more intimately to our heavenly neighbours.
But We See Jesus
Long before Jesus lived on earth, He was in the heavens as a spirit being with His Father, Jehovah. In the Greek of the New Testament He is referred to as the Logos, a title rather than a given name, meaning one authorised to speak on behalf of another. Most Bibles render the Greek title Logos as the ‘Word’, as in our lead text from the KJV.
St. Paul presents Jesus in superlative terms, indicating His status with the Father (Colossians 1: 15–20):
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
So the writer to the Hebrew Christians exclaims on behalf of us all, in Hebrews 2: 9: But we see Jesus!
. . . who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
As the Father’s only-begotten Son, His Logos or chief messenger, Jesus knew that the human race lay under a death sentence, incurred because of the disobedience of its first parents, Adam and Eve. The Father’s plan was to provide another Adam, another perfect earth-born being to pay the price of sin, to give his own life as a ransom, and so release Adam and his offspring from the grave. The Scriptures give no hint as to when the Logos learned that He would be that ransom provider, relinquishing His powers and privileges as the chief heavenly being under the Almighty.
And how could such a thing be accomplished? Evidently the only-begotten Son of God must become a man, must take on human nature, and so give up the heavenly nature, leave His beloved Father and trust that in some way mankind would be rescued and restored to that perfect humanity that had been God’s original design. Evidently the death of the Word, the Logos, was possible, and He could not have been at that point immortal, a state of being in which eternal life is inherent, independent of external support or sustenance. And so, born of Mary, the Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us.
Tidings of Great Joy
As a child of earth, Jesus shared the experiences of all humanity, aside from the sinful condition all others had inherited from Adam. Though Mary had provided and nourished His human nature, it was the Heavenly Father who had transferred the perfect life-principle of the Logos to her womb, and her child grew in the course of time to the stature of perfect manhood.
As instructed by the angel Gabriel, the boy was named Jesus, which means ‘saviour’. In His childhood Jesus possibly had no recollection of His former life. But He would know what the rest of the Jewish people knew – of the existence of heavenly beings, of Jehovah the God of Israel, and of the angel hosts, including those who had heralded His own birth.
By the age of thirty Jesus understood that His mission must begin. Not at first recognised by onlookers, His baptism in the Jordan was a public manifestation of the Saviour’s willing acceptance of His sacrificial destiny, and it was then that ‘heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased”’ (Matthew 3: 16, 17).
It seems reasonable to believe that this moment marked a significant change in the nature of Jesus’ relationship with His Heavenly Father – a remembrance of His former state as the Logos, and the partial restoration of powers possessed only by those in the spiritual realm. That anointing by God’s holy spirit was a pledge or a down-payment, a Divine indication that His fullest restoration to the glory of the past would in due time be fully realised.
And the time came when He bowed His head and said, ‘It is finished’ (John 19: 30). Aching for His heavenly home Jesus had prayed to the Father for no greater reward than to be restored to His former state: ‘And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began’ (John 17: 5).
He was going home! Mission accomplished? The price had been paid, the Ransom provided, yes, but the reconciling of the world to the Creator was a work in progress, to be shared with those faithful disciples who had become His earthly friends, and with all who would follow that calling. They had taken to their hearts this amazing visitor from a realm beyond human conception, and He had gone to prepare a place for them!
Granted the amazing privilege of being like their Lord, sharing His heavenly nature and dwelling in the presence of the Lord of the universe, these earth-born men and women transcended the barriers of space and time, pioneers in the association of life beyond Planet Earth.
Copyright December 2010 ukbiblestudents.co.uk
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