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Apollo 11 and the Ascension

When you try to go to another world, there is incredible danger.

In January of 1967, there was a launch pad test of Apollo 1, which was to be the first flight of a three-man Apollo capsule into Earth's orbit. Somewhere in the capsule's 31 miles of wiring, a wire had been stripped of its insulation. The bare wire happened to be near a cooling line, and there was a violent chemical reaction between the silver in the wire and the ethylene glycol. Within seconds, flames spread across the cabin ceiling. At 6:31 p.m., astronaut Roger Chaffee said, "We've got fire in the cockpit." A few seconds later, the transmission ended with a cry of pain. All three astronauts died.

Two years later, when Apollo 11 got ready to carry human beings to the moon, President Nixon asked William Safire to write a speech entitled, "In Event of Moon Disaster." If anything went wrong on the moon mission, Nixon would read the speech on TV, the radio communications with the moon would be cut off, the astronauts would be left alone to die, and a minister would commend their souls to "the deepest of the deep."

But that's not what happened. On July 20, 1969, with less than 30 seconds of fuel left, the lunar module landed in the Sea of Tranquility, and Commander Neil A. Armstrong stepped off the ladder onto the gray, powdery surface of the moon. It was the first time a human had ever gone to another celestial body.

After their return to earth, the astronauts had parades and dinners held in their honor in Washington D.C. President Nixon gave each astronaut the Presidential Medal of Freedom. What a celebration! The human race had just accomplished its greatest technological achievement of all time.

When Jesus Christ accomplished the greatest act of love and redemption of all time—when he went through the clouds and splashed down on heaven's shores—what a celebration he started! He had done it! Jesus had just completed the most dangerous and most important mission of all time. He had faced every temptation but never gave into sin. He stood up to the intense hatred of people with only truth and love. He could have called legions of angels to rescue him, but he willingly obeyed God and fulfilled his mission of giving up his life as a sacrifice to bring people back to God. He defeated the Devil. He destroyed death. Now he's returned in victory. The Father welcomes Jesus home and seats him at his right hand, the place of highest honor. He gives all authority to Jesus.

Why do we celebrate the Ascension? Because all heaven celebrates the victorious return of the Son, the Lamb who was slain, the Lion who conquered, the one who says in joy and power: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me."

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