To the Earth and Back
By Doug Redford
Maybe you’ve heard an expression often shared between two people who love each other: “I love you to the moon and back.” I’m not sure how the expression originated. The meaning is pretty clear; it’s another way of saying, “I love you more than you can even begin to measure.”
Every February, love takes center stage with the celebration of Valentine’s Day. But love takes center stage every Lord’s Day for the followers of Jesus during the observance of Communion. Jesus, literally, loved us to the earth and back.
To the moon and back to earth is estimated at about 480,000 miles. But Jesus came farther. Jesus travelled an immeasurable distance from Heaven to a broken, sin-ravaged earth to tell the people of that world that their creator loved them with a passion and that he was that creator, that passion, in the flesh. Few returned that love; as John notes, “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him” (John 1:11). “He was despised and rejected by mankind,” said Isaiah (Isaiah 53:3). The creator of the moon (John 1:1-3) was not loved “to the moon and back.”
But a love this intense was not deterred from its mission. Jesus died and came forth from the tomb to reverse sin’s curse so that we could become everything our creator intended us to be. He then went back to Heaven, leaving his followers with the responsibility of modeling his love and taking his message to the world.
Paul did not use the expression “to the moon and back” to describe the love of Jesus. He did, however, express his desire that all followers of Jesus should “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:18, 19). This is a love that cannot be measured, but is meant to be experienced and shared by those who have come under its life-changing influence.
Paul also tells us that in our observance of Communion, we “proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). We anticipate the day when Jesus will once more love us to the earth and back.
Only this time he will take us with him.
Doug Redford serves as minister with Highview Christian Church, Cincinnati, Ohio.