July 16,2007; Time Capsules

Focus Text: John 14.6

According to Wikipedia (see www.en.wikipedia.org.), the phrase time capsule was coined in the mid 30’s in connection with preparations for the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City. The idea was to “bury” some cultural artifacts from the then current society and preserve them for others to see much, much later (5000 years later, or 6939). Westinghouse prepared the time capsule that is yet buried in New York City, a cylinder containing, among other things, a spool of thread, a doll, and several minutes of RKO newsreel (see time capsule facts at www.oglethorpe.edu/about_us/crypt_of_civilization/).

Recently I was treated to the opening of a sort of a time capsule of another sort which led to some thinking that resulted in this devotional message. While driving to work and listening to the radio, a commercial was aired which literally caused me to do a double-take. An announcer with a distinctive voice was encouraging all Americans to buy, of all things, “war bonds.” As an incentive to motivate people to follow his suggestion, he said, “After all which would be easier, digging in your pockets for money, or letting a doctor dig in your body for shrapnel?” My mind reeled at the sternness of the words as a picture of what he was saying formed in my mind! “What a way to get someone’s attention!” I thought.

Of course, the radio station to which I was listening was on satellite radio and the channel was one which airs old time radio classics. The period commercial that I heard was taken from some radio show archives first aired in the 1940’s during World War II. What a difference a few years makes! Would such a commercial ever be needed again? Would we as a culture even entertain such a commercial? What a different world that must have been in which something like that was not only appropriate, but it probably aired without a second thought about it propriety with its original hearers. Indeed, what a difference a few years makes!

That set me to thinking about another type of time capsule, the Bible. It preserves, in word pictures, the cultures of people who lived in a completely different world. It tells of things which some people find shocking and even archaic. It speaks of sin, blood, a ransom, redemption, sacrifice, forgiveness, truth, absolute wrongs, and scores of other concepts that seem so very, very different from the world in which we live. Some people do a double-take when they read the words; some are so affected negatively by its contents that they sensor its words by changing their meanings or by attempting to remove them entirely from our vocabulary. With some, the need to preserve the sensibility of the modern reader is valued far above the message which God intended for us to hear when we open His time capsule. Some see themselves as so far advanced from the archaic ideas that the Bible contains, and they are so offended by its words, they reflexively shut it off without giving its message any credence whatsoever.

Fact is - our culture needs the message of the Bible. Time has not affected any of its truths. We may live in a different world so to speak, but some aspects of man have not changed; sin is still the only malady that leads to spiritual death, and Jesus is its only remedy! Read it, do a double-take if you must, but don’t tune it out; it is mandated for us and for every subsequent generation!


1. How did Jesus describe Himself in today’s focus text (read it in your own Bible)?

2. How exclusive are His statements in this text? According to Him, what other way is there for man to be saved? What is implied about people who honestly think that there is another way other than through Jesus?

3. How does His statement fit into the pluralistic and inclusive thinking of our culture?

4. If His word shocks our sensibilities, what ought we to do about it? Sensor or…?