(image credit: Israel Today / NASA)
Following in the steps of Jesus was more exciting than walking on the moon. These are the words attributed to Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon’s surface, during a visit to Israel.
And fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who accompanied him for the Apollo 11 lunar landing, was similarly taken up with a heavenly perspective. Shortly after touching down where no man had been before, he took communion with bread and wine he had carried from earth in special plastic packages, and ensured that among the first words ever spoken there were those of the Creator of the Universe, Jesus Christ, when he read a passage from John’s Gospel. (The bread and wine are symbols of the sacrifice Jesus made – through his broken body and shed blood – in dying for our sins on the cross).
Buzz had wanted to share his experience with the world at the time – back in 1969 – but NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) were embroiled in a legal controversy over broadcasting the Christian beliefs of their pilots, and he was persuaded to tone down his enthusiasm. He went ahead with the ceremony nevertheless, but with radio contact switched off.
Completing a trio of famous astronauts with a strong faith in the Creator is John Glenn, who recently died, aged 95, and who was the first man to orbit the earth in space.
When Neil Armstrong visited Israel in 1994, he asked his host, archaeologist Meir Ben Dov, if there was a place where Jesus would undoubtedly have walked when he was on earth. Dov, one of the excavators of the Temple Mount, was sure that he would have used the southern steps as he walked up to the Temple. So when Armstrong got there, the man who is more famous for his statement “This is one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind” is understood to have bent down and kissed the ground, saying that this was an even more exciting moment for him than walking on the moon.
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