December 20, 2012

The Longest Descent

This was a big drop. On October 14, 2012 Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner set a record by jumping from an altitude of approximately 128,100 feet. To give you an idea of how high that is, consider that a commercial airliner typically flies at about 30,000 feet. That's only 5.68 miles high. Baumgartner's Red Bull Stratos jump was from over 24 miles. He was so high that he had to wear a pressurized space suit. You can clearly see the curvature of the earth in the video of the jump.

I like to think that because of all the Red Bull I've consumed I was part of making this happen.

There are some edited versions of the jump, but I think you should watch the full version to get the feel for how long this guy fell. (He actually jumps 3:30 minutes into this video.) He was in free fall for close to four and a half minutes and even broke the speed of sound on his descent.

That jump may seem impressive to you, but it is not the greatest descent ever recorded. Long ago, someone else descended from a much, much higher position. Consider this from Philippians 2:

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
    taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    and became obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

No one has ever came down as far as the Son of God came down in humility. He existed eternally as God, but was willing to let go of those privileges and to put on genuine humanity. Jesus left the glory and comforts of heaven to live as human being. Not only that, but He, the Creator and Lord of the universe, became a servant. He came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many (Mt. 20:28.) He served even to the point of death, and the most painful and humiliating death of all--crucifixion. 

When you celebrate Christmas, remember that Christmas is about the biggest descent of all time. Christmas is about the voluntary descent of the Son of God so that He could become fully human (and yet fully God). But Christmas was only the start. On Good Friday, Jesus completed His descent by dying on the cross as a substitute for everyone who would put their trust in Him as their Sin-bearer. That is why the Son of God came to earth. Remember that this Christmas.

However, there is one more thing to remember. For man, what goes up must come down. But for the Son of God, the route was reversed. Philippians 2 continues:

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,

    to the glory of God the Father.

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