Neil Armstrong walked in footsteps of Jesus

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 27, 2019

During the past couple of weeks, Americans and people around the world recalled the historic event 50 years ago when Neil Armstrong became the first human to walk on the moon.

If you are about my age, you remember where you were on July 20, 1969.  Our family sat in front of a black and white TV screen broadcasting Armstrong’s first step on the lunar surface.  “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” Neil Armstrong spoke those now famous words as he set foot on the moon.

On the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11’s trip to the moon, many news reports have focused on the lives of the three astronauts aboard that spacecraft.  Buzz Aldrin, the second human to set foot on the moon, and Michael Collins, who orbited the moon while Armstrong and Aldrin explored the lunar landscape, are still alive to tell about their unforgettable experience.  But Neil Armstrong passed away in 2012.

Armstrong, the eldest of three children, became passionate about aviation at age six after his first plane ride.  He became a licensed pilot on his 16th birthday, according to biographical information.  His college studies in aeronautical engineering were interrupted by the Korean War, during which he was shot down once.  After returning from war, he completed his college degree and eventually joined the space program.

And the rest, as they say, is history.  This weekend, I read one of the most interesting facts about Neil Armstrong.  An article, written by Jonathan Feldstein, tells about how “Armstrong had put his faith and fate in God’s hands” when he traveled to the moon realizing that something could gone wrong.  “But he had faith, in God, and in the God given abilities of the vast team that made his personal achievement possible,” writes Feldstein.  He goes on the say that “Armstrong overcame personal challenges, including the death of his young daughter.  But his faith remained strong.”

Twenty-five years after his moon walk, Armstrong visited Israel.  His host was Meir Ben-Dov, a noted archeologist, who recalls bringing him to a particular place in the Old City of Jerusalem.  He remembers Armstrong asking him “if Jesus himself actually would have walked there.”  Ben-Dov replied, “Jesus was a Jew.  These are the steps that lead to the Temple, so He must have walked here many times.”

Thinking about the life of Neil Armstrong brought to mind the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “Lives of great men all remind us, We can make our lives sublime, And departing, leave behind us, Footprints on the sands of time.”

Armstrong reportedly told the Israeli archaeologist, “I am more excited stepping on these stones than I was stepping on the moon.’” Because of his faith, (Armstrong) realized that “to walk in Jesus’ footsteps, literally, was more significant than walking on the moon.”

Thinking about the faith of Neil Armstrong brought to mind the words of 1 Peter 2:21, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.”

Jan White is a national award-winning religion columnist. She can be reached at