Why did Jesus die?

Jesus’ death was not a tragic accident.  Jesus’ death was not like the suicide bomber whose vest accidentally explodes.  It was not the case, as many think, “If only Jesus had lived longer, imagine how much more good he could have done.” It was not the case that Jesus found himself caught up in circumstances beyond his control that unfortunately lead to his premature death.

No.

The New Testament says that Jesus died at exactly the right time (Galatians 4:4) according to the definite plan of God (Acts 2:23).

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The scandal of Jesus

scandalIn contrast to the speeches of Pope Francis, that everyone applauds and welcomes, Jesus’ words often upset and offended people, particularly religious people.  The account of Jesus’ healing of the Roman centurion’s servant is just such an outrageous occasion.  At our church’s official opening service on Sunday Bishop Glenn Lyons reminded us of two provocative, scandalous statements Jesus made.

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He did evil in the eyes of the Lord

kingKing Manasseh is a conundrum.  He was the most evil king Judah ever had and yet he was the longest reigning king. (cf. 2 Chronicles 33)  In the Old Testament books of Kings and Chronicles every king’s life is summed up either by, “he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord” or “he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.”  No matter what the king’s military gains, political accomplishments, feats of bravery or economic successes, in the end it boiled down to this one thing.

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Why do we believe in the resurrection of the body?

resurrectionA Swiss company has taken a fascinating and unexpected approach to memorializing our loved ones who have passed.  The company will compress and super-heat your loved one’s cremated ashes and turn them into a man-made diamond that can be worn and cherished.  It all begins with a chemical process that extracts the carbon from the departed’s ashes. This carbon is then heated to convert it into graphite. The graphite is then heated to as many as 1500 degrees Celsius and subjected to forces as high as 400 000 kg per square inch.  Prices begin at R50 000 for a small diamond.  This company is capitalizing on our desire to want to remember our loved ones and to keep them with us in some way.

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The gospel according to Pi

PiRecently I watched the move, “The Life of Pi”. I immensely enjoyed it and found it very thought-provoking. It says a lot about what people think about religion today. In the movie there is a shipwreck and a boy survives in a life raft accompanied by a tiger named Richard Parker. By the end of the movie there are two different stories, two versions of the truth, about how the boy named Pi survived. The older Pi, recounting the events, asks the interested journalist: “Which story do you prefer?” The journalist replies, “The story with the animals”. And the older Pi says, “And so it goes with God.”

In other words, you choose which story about God you prefer. Do you prefer the Bible, the Koran, the Bhagavad-Gita or the latest book on spirituality at Exclusive books? The ending is the same, you simply need to choose the story.

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God’s message to South Africans

Although we live in a very beautiful country filled with amazing cultural diversity and many good things,  we also live in a country that faces huge challenges.  There is a growing, rich elite that seems unconcerned for the poor.  There is growing poverty because of poor education and lack of resources.  When listening to the news we are confronted with corruption, lack of accountability, cronyism and poor service delivery. 

 

 The prophet Isaiah

Isaiah’s world was not much different and God’s message through Isaiah is for us today.  Isaiah was a prophet in the Old Testament, who lived in Jerusalem, and related to the people a message from God.   According to Isaiah 1:1 the vision is addressed to the people of Judah and Jerusalem.  But the vision is not just for them, because 1:2 says “Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth! For the LORD has spoken…”  Isaiah’s message is for all countries, all generations, all peoples, all the inhabitants of the earth, whether you are religious or non-religious, Christian or Muslim.  In chapter 5 Isaiah pronounces God’s judgment on the world in the form of six woes.  This is God’s message for the us. Continue reading God’s message to South Africans