Today I drove my 1977 Volkswagen bug that I have named Bullet. When I bought it, it was beat up, every fender dented, the paint peeling from its rusting surface. Depending upon the eye of the beholder, it was either a piece of junk or an antique. I chose the latter, had it painted and drive it almost every day.
The same year my VW bug was manufactured, NASA launched Voyagers 1 and 2 in opposite directions to explore the solar system and, eventually to reach interstellar space. But, space is a big place. Traveling at 39,000 and 35,000 miles per hour respectively, the Voyager probes are just now reaching the edge of our solar system, thirty-four years after their launch. Both Voyager probes carry gold plated phonograph records in hopes some extraterrestrial being might play them and listen to our world. If they do, they can hear a personal greeting from President Jimmy Carter. Although they have reached speeds fifty times faster than the fastest fighter jet, it will take them 70,000 years to reach the closest star.
One scientist put the size of the universe in perspective. If our sun were the size of a grain of salt, he said, the orbit of the earth would be one inch in diameter. And the closest star would be four miles away.
When we lie on the grass at night and look into the sky it is filled with stars, seemingly close together. But, in fact they are very, very far away. There are four hundred billion stars in our galaxy alone and there are fifty billion other galaxies. If the cosmic universe is this big, how big is God?
The Bible seeks to expand our minds when we think about Christ and God to help us understand that God is far bigger than anything we every imagined. When Paul writes about Christ, he says, “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:15-17). According to Luke, when people met Jesus they were struck by the “majestic greatness” of God.
Shortly before Jesus was crucified, he prayed for those who would believe in Him. According to John, his prayer included this statement, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” (John 17:24). The word for world in this statement is not the Greek word, “ges” from which we derive our words “geology, geography and geothermal.” It is the word “cosmos” indicating the “cosmic universe.” When we think about the expanse of the cosmic universe, we get a small glimpse of His glory, and quickly realize that our finite minds are far too small to comprehend His majestic greatness.
Whenever I drive my old Volkswagen bug I am reminded of those Voyager probes and how puny our man-made objects appear in the cosmic galaxies of creation. By contrast, I am caused to reflect on the majestic greatness of God. I am grateful that the invisible creator of creation has invited me to know him through the visible person of His Son.