In the 1970s, NASA (the National Aeronautics Space Administration) received a surprising proposal from one of its employees. Jim Garvin, a young scientist working for NASA, volunteered to fly to the planet Mars. This was a sensational initiative, but Jim knew very well that he would never return from such a radical mission. A Truly Radical Mission At the time, technology was not sufficiently advanced to offer a return ticket from Mars. It would have been a one-way ticket! Jim would have conducted various experiments, thus increasing significantly our knowledge of the universe. But once his supplies ran out, he would have died with the satisfaction that he had sacrificed his life for the good of mankind on planet Earth. It is reported that NASA seriously considered Garvin’s proposal of such a radical mission to Mars before turning it down. Yet, there has been another Man, long before Jim Garvin, to undertake a mission even more radical in relation to planet Earth.
Knowing that God’s will was to save us from eternal destruction, Jesus volunteered to come to our world and sacrifice His life for the human race. He said simply and sublimely, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God” (Ps. 40:7-8; Heb. 10:7,9 NKJV). The Apostle Paul referred to Jesus’ trip to planet Earth this way: “The mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3:16). And the Apostle John left us this wonderful verse: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16). What was the cost of this radical mission? Jesus “became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8). Undoubtedly, this mission was the most radical in the history of mankind. Jesus died for you. Have you ever considered this?
Mission Accomplished Once And For All
Fortunately for Jim Garvin, NASA refused his proposal, which was certainly characterized by self-denial and altruism. Since then, Mr. Garvin has become chief scientist for Mars exploration at NASA. Today, we owe much to him and his team for the superb pictures and the geological analysis of Mars’ soil done by the robots, Spirit and Opportunity, which landed on Mars in January, 2004. But earth’s inhabitants owe much more to Jesus who has accomplished His own mission. (The word “mission” comes from the Latin missio which means “sending someone.”)
The primary objective of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program is to find traces of any life on Mars. Jesus came not to find life, but to bring eternal life to a dead world. The one who accepts with sincerity God’s salvation receives eternal life immediately. “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life” (1 Jn. 5:11-12). Do you have eternal life?
The strategy of NASA in exploring Mars is “follow the water.” Any indication that there is or was water, in whatever form, will help scientists understand the current environment of the planet. Do you know that the strategy is the same if we want to understand God’s salvation plan, and discover His thoughts and His will for our lives? We must follow the water! God’s Word is water that regenerates us (Tit. 3: 5), instructs us on how to keep our way pure (Ps. 119:9) and produces in us a well of water springing up to eternal life (Jn. 4:14). Do you drink that water by reading the Word of God daily?
Missions In The Future
Mars has captivated the imagination of generations of people. Have you read the book “The War of the Worlds” by H.G. Wells? Written in 1898, it depicted Martians attacking London. Now that there are two robot geologists roving Mars, after a voyage of over 300 million miles, science-fiction is becoming reality! In 1965, the Mariner IV spacecraft sent the first clear images of the Martian surface. There were other missions after that – some successful and others not. Mars Pathfinder (1997), in particular, returned thousands of images, more than 15 chemical analyses of rocks and soil, and extensive data on winds and other weather factors. The rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, will travel almost half a kilometer each during their three-month mission. NASA is planning another mission in 2014 to bring samples of rocks and soil back to Earth.
God’s radical mission on planet Earth is not over either. Jesus, the Son, has made known the Father by becoming a man without sin who gave His life to pay for our sins. Each day, people are saved for eternity. But did you know that Jesus is coming back soon? All true believers will be taken by Him to His Father’s house outside this universe. Jesus’ return for believers is one of the last stages of His mission: those who are alive will be taken up together with “the dead in Christ” to meet the Lord in the air, “and thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Th. 4:17). And what will happen to those that have not believed, thus rejecting His mission? They will end up in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:11-15).
Assuming that NASA had accepted the radical mission of Jim Garvin in the 70s and that he would have been successful, he would still have died for this noble cause. At Calvary, Jesus willingly gave up His life for His radical mission, but He then rose from the dead in three days. Now we wait for His return according to His promise: “I am coming quickly!” (Rev. 22:7,12,20). While we wait for the Lord’s return, if you have believed in Him, He entrusts you with an important mission: to proclaim His mission of salvation to those who don’t know of it.
You may feel that your mission is too radical, but will you be bold enough to say as Isaiah did, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isa. 6:8)? The Lord will then assure you of His presence as He did to others like Gideon and Haggai (Jud. 6:12; Hag. 1:13). He will also tell you to go with the strength you have (Jud. 6:14), the strength He provides! What is your mission right now? Is it to tell someone about Jesus’ radical mission? Why not ask Jesus each day what is your mission for the next 24 hours? Then do it!
By Richard Pigeon
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org