As I write this article today I am reminded of Neil Armstrong’s historic moon landing which took place 51 years ago, July 20, 1969. In the hours before Neil Armstrong took the first steps on the moon, he decided what his first momentous words, to be broadcast back to Earth and around the world, should be: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” Then, in the excitement of the moment, he messed up his line. Armstrong plead indistinct diction, although listening live and to the recordings all these years later, it’s impossible not to hear him saying, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Hear the difference? The indefinite article, a, contrasted his small step, the small step of a single man, with the giant accomplishment of the lunar landing for all mankind. As it came out, the point was a little less clear.
In a couple of weeks we will be hearing about Peter taking one small step out of the boat and walking on the water. That was one small step for a man. The giant leap for mankind is that it now became clear that God had become man. Not only does Jesus walk on the water, as God surely can, but he enables a man to do things that no man could do. Peter doesn’t become a god, but he does walk on water. When he sinks, another giant leap occurs. It’s not Peter leaping back into the boat. It’s Jesus reaching his hand to save Peter.
The things God does through us are big steps for us. The biggest leap will always be the one that brought Jesus to the cross for all mankind— since Jesus died for all—that whoever believes in him will not perish. There’s no mistake either. God planned it exactly right, and Jesus carried it out exactly right.
Pastor Bryan E. Drebes
Pastor Drebes attended Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, beginning in 1997. He spent the summer of 1999 teaching English to Chinese middle school teachers in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China. He served a four-month vicarage at St. John Lutheran Church, Plymouth, Wisconsin, followed by eight months at Bethany Lutheran Church, Overland Park, Kansas. Pastor Drebes was ordained into the Office of the Holy Ministry at Zion Lutheran Church, Palmyra, Missouri on August 19, 2001, and installed as Associate Pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church, Overland Park, Kansas on September 9, 2001. He served Bethany for 14 years. Pastor Drebes accepted a Divine