His Italian Mother named him Marco, after Mark the writer of the Gospel of Mark. She prayed that he would follow in the Evangelist’s footsteps and take the Gospel to far places.
When Marco Polo was only 17 years of age, in the 13th Century, he began his epic travels which took him through the mountains of Afghanistan, through Russia and Persia, over the Himalayas into the Far East. He was the first European to enter China, and through some amazing circumstances, Marco became a favourite of Kublai Khan, the most powerful ruler of that time. The Khan’s wealth was beyond imagination – his palace dwarfed the largest castles and cathedrals of Europe. His banquet room alone sat 6000 guests, who each would eat on a plate of gold.
Marco saw the first paper money as well as the explosive power of gunpowder. He tasted the Chinese delicacy of pasta before any Italian had even heard of it. China produced as much steel in the 13th Century as Europe would do in the 18th Century. No other European would see as much as Marco Polo for at least another 500 years.
After 17 years serving Kublai Khan, Marco returned to Venice, loaded down with spices, gold and silk. He told stories of his adventures in the Far East, but nobody believed him. They thought his descriptions of China were a mythical dream. They considered the explorer a liar, lunatic and a dreamer. On his deathbed, Marco Polo said “I have not even told you half of what I’ve seen!”
The story is reminiscent of what the Apostle Paul said of his visit to the 3rd heaven.
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love him.” When we think about the glories of heaven, we can’t even conceive of all that God has created for us to enjoy, but it’s real – more real than the world that we can temporarily see and feel.
There is an invisible world which Jesus has created, that we can experience in life. All that is physical has come from that world and will ultimately flow into it.
For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. Colossians 1:16 NASB
Living and ruling in the invisible Kingdom of God is what all of our human lives are destined for. Believing and understanding this invisible world gives meaning and purpose to all that we are doing on earth.
One day, 100’s of years after Marco Polo lived, Europeans discovered he’d been telling true stories about the unknown world. May we learn now, in this world, that what the Bible tells us about the mystical heavenly world is not only true, but vital to understand.