I always wanted to be an astronaut. There was (and is) something alluring about space. One of my favorite movies as a kid was Space Camp. It’s the story of some teens spending their summer at Space Camp in Alabama when the shuttle they are in accidently launches them into space. If you’ve not seen it, rent it in all its ’80s goodness.
About the time I saw Space Camp, my parents got me a telescope for Christmas. I loved to take the telescope outside and look at the moon and the stars. I came to learn about the speed of light and how the light we see from the stars, in some cases, actually happened thousands of years ago. Light from the sun takes 8.3 minutes to be visible on earth. Light from the nearest galaxy, the Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy, takes 25,000 years to reach earth. So when we look up at the stars we are looking at something that existed years ago.
Jesus says something so inflammatory in chapter 8 of John that the Jews are ready to stone him on the spot. As the Jews try to figure out who Jesus is, they speak of their kinship with Abraham. Jesus, in verse 56 says, “Your Father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” The Jews were furious. How could Jesus, who was not even 50 years old, been present for Abraham to see Him? Jesus replies, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, “I AM.”
Immediately the Jews thought back to Moses and the burning bush. God told Moses, in Exodus 3:14, “I AM WHO I AM,” meaning “I am who I will be.” Moses learned that day that God is not dependent on any other thing and transcends all of creation. When the Jews heard Jesus say, “I AM” they knew that he was saying that He was present with Abraham. Jesus was present with Moses at the burning bush. Jesus was present with God even before the creation of the universe. Jesus is not just claiming to be eternal, but claiming to be God.
As we journey these forty days of Lent, we reflect on the life of Jesus. We will read through the Gospel accounts at Jesus’ miracles, His teachings, and ultimately His death and resurrection. John reminds us that to reflect on Jesus is to reflect on the One who was before there was time. The Jesus I have encountered in my life is not a finite Jesus- but was with God at creation- and will be with God when all of creation is redeemed.
As the weather gets warmer this spring and you have the opportunity to look up at the night sky, take time to ponder the light that you see. Consider how it takes days, years, even hundreds or thousands of years to reach your eyes. Then remember Jesus, who says “I am the light of the world.” Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, was with God in the beginning- and is the light that shines on the entire world.
Almighty God- this Lenten season, may we receive the Light of Your Son, Jesus Christ in our hearts. May the Light of Your Eternal Son illuminate our lives so that we may walk in Your paths. Help us to point others to Your Light and to Your Life. Amen