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If You Had a Time Machine
Witnessing Tools
Friday, August 03, 2018
Alf Cengia

What if you had a Time Machine? A secular friend posed this question a few weeks ago. He asked, "What if you had a Time Machine, would you go forward or backward - and why?" The stipulation was that you could only view a single event. In the ensuing conversation, that stipulation was modified to a narrow period no longer than a week.

As I reflect back to our conversation, it's interesting that as we discussed it further, the option of going forward in time wasn't really explored. I thought about that later. A curious technically-minded person might want to peek into the future to see how far science and technology would advance.

Yet one might find something they don't like. What if you saw a post-apocalyptic world, and your country totally destroyed? What if you caught a glimpse of a totalitarian world where people like you were being summarily executed?

Would you want to know? Do you think you could go back and change the future?

On the other hand, there are practical reasons for going forward. You could pick a relatively "safe" period of time - perhaps a week or a month. You could then collect data which would be of economic advantage and become very rich! Interestingly enough, this idea didn't come up. Past events dominated the conversation.

So let's talk about the past and let's assume we can't change it. But just in case, we'll introduce the stipulation that we can't meaningfully interact with the environment, only observe it. What One Period or Event in the past would you want to see?

Remember that you can't watch Noah building the Ark and then fly off to watch Moses parting the Red Sea. You can't watch bits of the French Revolution then snoop forward to see who really killed President John F. Kennedy. You have a narrow time-frame.

I can think of a vast array of past events a secular person might want to peek at, depending on their interests. Surprisingly, my secular friend chose the Nativity of Jesus Christ. I honed in on the week of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Later on, my friend agreed.

While the nativity of Jesus is important, a secular or agnostic person will not see anything astounding there. But the Crucifixion and subsequent Resurrection of Jesus Christ are pivotal-critical events in the history of the redemption of man. For obvious reasons, even someone who is agnostic or an atheist ought to be curious about Passion Week.

For more on this see The Final Days of Jesus by Andreas J. Köstenberger and Justin Taylor.

Of course, language is important. It's no good hopping out of your Time Machine and finding you can't understand anyone. What language did Jesus speak? For the sake of the exercise let's just assume that the Time Machine grants you the ability to understand whatever is spoken at the time and place of your visitation.

There are many amazing events in the Passion Week. Wouldn't you want to see Jesus enter Jerusalem on that donkey? Some of these interludes would be bitter-sweet. I'd love to see the fabulous Jewish Temple and listen to Christ's Olivet Discourse.

Yet it would be frustrating not to be able to ask questions or for clarifications. "What did you really mean by that, Lord?"

I don't know that I'd want to be present in the Garden of Gethsemane, or during Jesus' trial and subsequent torture. The Passion of the Christ movie overwhelmed me - the real event would be far starker. Yet I'd love to hear Jesus promise the thief that he would be in Paradise with Him that same night (Luke 23:43). Who wouldn't to see the look of joy in that dying thief's face? Or the expression of recognition on the Centurion's face!

Along the same lines I'd like to see Peter when he suddenly realized that he'd denied his Master three times, as the Lord prophesied. Not because I'm better (I'm far worse than Peter at his worst) but because I'd love to see the contrast when Jesus restored him during that meal of fish.

Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We will also come with you." John 21:3-17

"Do you love me, Peter?" "Do you love me, Alf?"

I'd want to see the ripped Temple veil (Matt 27:51) after stumbling around in the dark and experiencing that earthquake. Most of all I'd want to be present at the rolling away of the stone, then watching the interactions between the angels and the first witnesses - especially Mary and the Lord!

What about Emmaus!

I've been on a few great hikes with my wife and Sammy (our Golden Retriever). I'm sure they wouldn't mind if I said the seven mile hike to Emmaus with Jesus and the two disciples would be my ultimate (Luke 24:13-32).

And He said to them, "What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?" And they stood still, looking sad. One of them, named Cleopas, answered and said to Him, "Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?"  And He said to them, "What things?" Luke 24:17-19

I wonder if the Lord had an amused expression. I sure would love to have seen the change in the disciples' faces - from sad consternation, to wonder and to heart-burning awe when they realized it was the Lord who had comforted them during their hike home. What a sermon that would've been!

Of course, I'd want to climb into my Time Machine and experience Jesus' 40 days with the disciples, His Ascension, Pentecost, Phillip's sermon to the Eunuch and on and on... However, that would go beyond the parameters of this thought experiment.

One day, when we're in heaven, we'll hear our favorite stories from a first-person perspective. In the meantime we have the Bible. It isn't just a Time Machine - it is a trustworthy record of the past and promise of the glorious future when our Lord returns. The Word of God gives us our Blessed Hope.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Rom 8:18 (See also Phil 4:20-21)

Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 1 John 3:2

I'm looking forward to that! Have you placed your faith in Jesus Christ yet?

Isn't it about time you did?

About Alf Cengia 
Zeteo316.com

Last week: A Growing Lawlessness



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