The Man is a short story that can be found in Ray Bradbury's The Illustrated Man and in S is for Space. Although it is not the only story that Bradbury has written with a religious theme to it, it is the only one of that category in the Bradbury 13 series. Bradbury called this story one of his "What if" stories. SO, what if you arrived on a planet just after Christ had come, ministered and gone? (Bradbury did identify the Man as a representation of Christ)
Captain Hart has been exploring space. He enjoys the adoration of the crowds, coming to greet him and celebrate his greatness, as a man from earth coming in a space ship to their planet. But on this particular planet, on this particular day, the people there do not seem to have the excitement that Captain Hart had expected. In fact, no one comes to greet their ship at all. Outraged, Captain Hart finally sends his First Lieutenant Martin out to find the Mayor and bring in a welcoming committee, or at least find out why they haven't bothered to greet the new arrivals.
Martin returns with news that the people have no interest in the ship or its crew. Just yesterday, a Man arrived in the city. He was good and kind. He healed the sick, comforted the poor, and fought hypocrisy and dirty politics. But Captain Hart will hear none of it. A boy with a crippled arm showed Hart that he had been healed. But to Hart, this was no proof, as all he saw was a healthy arm. Captain Hart is convinced that Ashley or Burton, captains of two other ships, must have been here before him. They must have arrived and fooled the entire town, using advanced technology to "heal" and "comfort" the people, making them believe that he was of infinite wisdom.
Martin, however, believes the people. He feels something that Captain Hart does not. He decides to stay behind, to retire and live among the goodness he has felt here. Captain Hart climbs aboard his ship, determined to chase down this Man, and find out who he really is, needing Him to show Himself in person.
I think the overall message is that we should be able to find Christ in the ourselves and the people around us. He works through the people. We do the work for Him. Martin saw Christ in the people and believed. Captain Hart needed to see the physical person to believe. Who will have happiness? Who will never be satisfied? Where do you stand in your life? And what if you just missed that personal visitation? Would you embrace the remaining love? Or would you run away, seeking to find Him for yourself? Are you Martin, or are you Captain Hart?
Enjoy this tale. It is also available as an mp3 at twilightzoneradio.com for $1.95.