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Giving Life Meaning
Module 2 - The New Covenant
2/0 Introduction
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Picture, Solution Button. God's Initiative
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In Module 1 we saw how God revealed himself to humanity through Abraham and how,  through Moses, he gave us Laws for living as he intended, together with an agreement with his early people (the Old Covenant) to be their God and protect them if they obeyed his Laws. However, they and all of us ever since, find it impossible to keep those Laws well enough long enough and, as a result, cause a 'rift' that separates us from God, just like a naughty child is 'separated' from its parents.

In this Module 2 we'll see how God took the initiative and, when he decided humanity had grown mature enough, came to earth himself in the form of his Son, Jesus Christ, to put right that separation, by teaching us how to implement his Laws properly and, supremely, to reconcile us back to himself.

As he prepared for the end of his ministry here, at his last supper, Jesus gave us a New Covenant that if we at least try to keep God's Laws, even though we inevitably fail, he'll speak up for us. Return to top)
              Module 2 Index
        2/0  Introduction (this page)
        2/1  Jesus Birth and Childhood

        2/2  Teaching & Miracles 1 
        2/3  Teaching & Miracles 2
        2/4  Ministry Nears Its Climax
        2/5  Trial and Execution

        2/6  Resurrection and Proof

    It was traditional in ancient times to seal agreements by shedding blood. Moses sealed the Old Covenant by sacrificing a bull on an altar and splashing the blood over the people. Jesus sealed the New Covenant with his own blood, shed on the cross.
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:Picture, Jesus' Birth. Module 2/1 – Jesus Birth and Childhood
God's Messiah, or 'Chosen One', who will save us from the results of our disobedience (our 'sin'), is predicted throughout the Bible's Old Testament, and we provide several references to show that. For instance, when God deemed the time was right, announcements were made that the Messiah was about to be born, followed by a proclamation to 'Prepare the Way' for him. (Return to top)
  • The Messiah (also known as Christ) is Jesus of Nazareth. Details of his birth as a human, and his early childhood are given, together with his preparation for beginning his ministry here on earth.
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Picture, Water into Wine. Module 2/2 – Teaching & Miracles 1
Jesus began his ministry in the area to the north of Israel known as the Galilee, where he went about teaching crowds of people how to interpret God's Laws as was originally intended and by performing miracles of healing to show that God is a God of caring love and not wrath and punishment, as some seem to have thought. He taught with authority, but much of his teaching was radical compared to that of established religious authorities, which annoyed them. (Return to top)
  • He called together twelve disciples, or followers, as ‘apprentices’ to learn from him so they could continue to take out his message to the world after he returned to heaven.
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Picture, Loving God. Module 2/3 – Teaching & Miracles 2
Jesus continued to teach and perform miracles but  he  gradually moved  towards  the capital, Jerusalem, the centre of established authority, and added teaching about the nature of heaven, God, himself, and humans and performed miracles of resurrection of the dead – were these hinting at his own resurrection? (Return to top)
  • No-one knows what heaven is like as no-one has ever returned from there, so Jesus says heaven is 'like' other things we already know about.
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:Pcture, Jesus on Donkey. Module 2/4 – Ministry Nears It's Climax
Jesus now entered Jerusalem in the style of a conquering king – but with a difference! At first he was acclaimed by the crowd with cheering, though they later turned on him and called for his execution by crucifixion.

He drew his ministry towards its climax by warning his disciples for his death, gave us an example of how to serve each other as he served us, and proved a means of perpetuating his teaching and memory among humanity forever.
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  • The nature of Jesus' ministry got more radical, which annoyed the established authorities even more, until they determined to get rid of him by any means.
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Picture, Jesus on Donkey. Module 2/5 – Trial and Execution
The religious leaders bribed one of Jesus' own disciples to betray him, so they arrested him, gave him a mock trial with false witnesses and condemned him to death; except they couldn't carry out the death penalty themselves so took him before the Roman Governor who, after trying to acquit him, gave in to the crowd who had now turned against him, had him flogged, and executed as a common criminal on a cross. (Return to top)
  • Jesus died and was buried in a stone tomb given by a secret follower, and that might have seemed that, but it wasn't the end God had planned.
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Jesus on Beach. Module 2/6 – Resurrection and Proof
On the third day after his execution, Jesus rose to life again, as he had predicted. He revealed himself to his followers beginning with one special friend, then to his disciples, then to over 500 people all at one time, before he returned to heaven and left his apprentices, his disciples, to take out his message to all the world, as we shall see in Module 3. (Return to top)
  • It was by his self-sacrifice on the cross that Jesus made reconciliation between God and humanity for all our disobedience of his Laws. An act of supreme caring love by the source of all love – God the Holy Trinity.
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Picture, A Bible. How Do We know All This?
An account of these events is included in the first four books of the Bible's New Testament, which are known as 'The Gospel'. (Return to top)
.Poster, Gospels The Gospel - Why Four Versions?
The Bible's New Testament begins with an account of Jesus' life and teaching on earth called 'The Gospel'. The Greek title, 'Gospel' translates as 'Good News', but there' only one Gospel, so why does the Bible appear to have four versions, all slightly different?

The answer is that they all reveal details of the life, teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus, so there is similarity, but they were written by different authors at different times and intended for readers with different knowledge and background.

You may remember Modules 0 and 1 revealed there's a cultural difference between the way people wrote in Bible times compared with our approach today. They were more concerned with getting their point across rather than factual order, so the different authors use the same events but selected and grouped them differently to suit the points they wanted to make.

Scholars aren't absolutely certain in which order the Gospels were written. A popular idea is that Mark wrote his account first and Matthew and Luke adapted it, adding or deleting other items to stress details suited to their own readers. John is thought to have written his account last and more on his own, which is why it's somewhat different from the other three.

In this Module 2 we've combined the four accounts into a single whole to allow us to see the 'bigger picture'. (Return to top)
  • The identity of the authors has been suggested at different times. Popular candidates are:

  • Matthew: used to be thought of as Jesus' Apostle, but now possibly someone else who knew the Apostle Matthew.

  • Mark: was thought to be an associate of the Apostle Peter and the same 'John Mark' who accompanied St Paul; but scholars now aren't sure.

  • Luke: was a doctor and close associate of the 12 Disciples. He accompanied St Paul on some of his journeys and was familiar with members of the early church.

  • John: was 'the Apostle whom Jesus loved' – one of the 12 Disciples but scholars are no longer sure if he was the author of the 3 'Letters of John' and the book of 'Revelation'.
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Poster, Mathews Gospel. The Gospel According To - Matthew
It used to be thought that Matthew was anti Jewish, because his account is rather critical of Jews, but it's now thought he was writing for the Jews to convince them that Jesus was their long-awaited Messiah, because he uses many quotations from the Old Testament which Jews would have been familiar with, and he fails to explain the many Jewish customs he writes about, so he must have thought his readers would be familiar with them.

Also, he uses the expression 'Kingdom of Heaven' whilst the other authors use 'Kingdom of God' which supports the idea that Matthew was a Jew, as Jews don't use the word 'God' but use an alternative. (Return to top)
  • Matthew's account was probably not intended just for Jews because he does include non-Jewish ideas too, such as the visit of the Magi at Jesus' birth.
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Poster, Marks Gospel. The Gospel According To - Mark
Scholars' analysis of Mark's Gospel suggests that he could have been writing for Christians in Rome, or at least for non-Jews there, because  he   explains Jewish customs and words from the Aramaic language, that would have been necessary if his readers were unfamiliar with them, and he pays particular attention to persecution and martyrdom, which were of special interest in Rome.
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  • Mark's is the shortest of the four Gospels and surprisingly doesn't give much detail about Jesus' resurrection.

  • Aramaic was the language
    Jesus would have spoken.
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Poster, Luke's. The Gospel According To - Luke
Luke is thought to have been a Gentile and well educated – parts of his Gospel are written in the best Greek in the Bible, whilst other parts are closer to the way local people spoke, which suggest he wrote for a wide audience. He uses detailed references to places in Palestine without explaining them, so his readers must have been familiar with them. His is a full account from birth to resurrection and ascension back to heaven.

Luke accompanied St Paul on some of his journeys and write's in a way that indicates he was familiar with the early church. He's the author of both this Gospel and the Book of 'Acts'. (Return to top)
  • John ends his account, 'Jesus did many other things as well' but says they couldn't all be recorded in one book, which supports the idea that the four authors have selected the items they chose to emphasise their point and left out others.
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Poster, John's Gospel. The Gospel According To - John
The author obviously knew Jewish life well because he has several references to Jewish ideas. He knew the geography of the area and refers to places by name, including some not mentioned in the other Gospels.

Because he wrote last (possibly around 85AD) John uses a different style from the earlier Gospels, a style popular around that time called 'Apocryphal' that means 'obscure or hidden', which can make it harder to understand.

Some have suggested different reasons John wrote his Book, but John himself suggests he chose his content from the total available because, "These things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that in believing you may have life in his name" (Jn 20:31). (Return to top)
  • John ends his account, "Jesus did many other things as well" but says they couldn't all be recorded in one book, which supports the idea that the four authors have selected the items they chose to emphasise their point and left out others.
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