Module 2: The New Covenant
2/0 Introduction
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God's New Initiative
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In Module 1 we learnt how God revealed himself to us, gave us rules for living life as he intended and how both those early people and we still today find it difficult it is to keep those rules. Our disobedience, our 'sin', separates us from God, much like a naughty child is 'separated' from their human parent.

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 Jesus and madea reconciliation.

As he was preparing for the end of his ministry here on earth, at his last supper, Jesus showed us what loving each other means. Despite being God, he washed his Disciples feet just as the lowliest servant would have done (Jn 13: 5-15) and gave us a New Commandment: 'Love one another as I have loved you' (Jn 15:12).

Also at the Last Supper, as he shared the traditional cup of wine, Jesus said, 'This cup is the New Covenant in my blood' sealed, as was the earlier Covenant with blood, but this time not the blood of an animal but his own blood shed on the cross. Return to top)
          Module 2 Index
    2/0   Introduction
    (This page)
    2/1  Jesus Birth and Childhood
    2/2  Preparation For Ministry 
    2/3  Ministry Begins  
    2/4  Ministry Completed 
    2/5  Reconciliation For Sin
    2/6  Resurrection And New Life

    The New Covenant is that if we love God and each other as Jesus showed us – keeping to the clear teaching he revealed in his ‘Gospel’ – then we can again have eternal life with God as he’d originally intended.

    This Module is still under construction. The incomplete part included here is included to give an idea of the final version.

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. Module 2/1 – Jesus' Birth and Childhood
God's Messiah, or Chosen One, who will save us from the results of our own disobedience (sin), is predicted throughout the Bible's Old Testament and this part 2/1 provides several references to illustrate that. 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.

In Middle Eastern culture one's ancestors are very important, so the account begins with Jesus' ancestry to establish who he is, before going on to describe his special birth.

As a baby he was visited by the lowly (shepherds) and the high (wise men), whose gifts give us a clue to his future - a shepherd (of God's people), a king, a priest… and destined for death (by crucifixion).

He and his family had to flee to Egypt to escape persecution before they could return home, where his early childhood demonstrates deep intelligence and knowledge of God. (Return to top)
  • If Jesus is to fulfil the prophecies of the Old Testament, and so prove he is the Messiah, then all the prophecies must be fulfilled – which they were.

  • As well as its obvious meaning, much of the Bible has symbolic meaning too. For instance, we can infer that Jesus being visited by low and high-status people and becoming a refugee makes him relevant to everyone, the lowly and persecuted as well as the rich and great.
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Module 2/2 – Preparation for Ministry
Unlike us, Jesus was without sin so he didn't need to have his sin 'washed away' in baptism, but baptism also marks a new beginning so, when he reached the age of about thirty and was about to begin his ministry here on earth, he was first baptised, which again making him like us in every respect.

He then took himself off 'on retreat' into the desert (the Wilderness) while he worked out his relationship with God, what he was called to do, and how he was going to do it.

He returned to Nazareth, but the people rejected him, so he went to nearby Capernaum and declared who he was and his purpose – thereby fulfilling an Old Testament prophecy about the Messiah. (Return to top)
  • It seems likely that Jesus didn't go into the desert just to see if he could resist hunger and temptation but to prepare himself for his ministry in a similar way that people today who are about to be ordained as a priest go 'on retreat' just beforehand to prepare themselves for it.
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.Module 2/3 – Phase 1: Ministry Begins
In Capernaum, Jesus called together 12 'Disciples' to train them to become 'Apostles' after he returned to heaven. He then began going around the region teaching a clear understanding of God and his Laws, which demonstrated his authority, and healing the sick, which revealed his divinity (ie: that he was also God).

Jesus himself continues to teach but he also gives the Apostles practical experience by sending them out in pairs to the local towns and villages to teach his message there too.

He's challenged to say who he is, and he tells 'Parables' to compare his more difficult teaching with things people were already familiar, with so we can more easily understand.. (Return to top)
  • It was common for a Jewish Rabbi (teacher) to have twelve 'apprentices' who went about with them everywhere to learn from them.

  • A 'Disciple' is a title given to any follower. An 'Apostle' is someone sent out with a message.
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. Module 2/4 – Phase 2: Ministry Completed
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.Module 2/5 – Phase 3: Reconciliation for our Sin
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.Module 2/6 – Phase 4: Resurrection and New Life
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The Gospel – Why Four Versions?
The Bible's New Testament begins with an account of Jesus' life and teaching on earth. The Greek name is the 'Gospel', which translates as 'Good News', but there's only one Gospel, so why does the Bible appear to have four versions, all slightly different?

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

You may remember that we learnt earlier that 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 Gospel authors use the same events but select and group them in different ways to suit their intended readers. It's remarkable that despite his short ministry (just 3 years), Jesus gave us a huge range of teaching and example, so there's always something that will give meaning and support to each of us today.

Scholars aren't absolutely certain in which order the Gospels were written. The most popular idea is that Mark wrote his account first and Matthew and Luke adapted it, adding or deleting other items in Jesus' life to make their own point. John is thought to have written his account last and somewhat more on his own, which is why it's the most different from the other three. We've combined the four accounts into a single whole to allow us to see the 'bigger picture' of Jesus' ministry but it's good to read them separately too to allow us to see their different aspects of our complex God. (Return to top)
  • The identity of the authors is uncertain and many possibilities have 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 and possibly also the author of the 3 'Letters of John' and the book of 'Revelation'.

    For a full description, see the PDF version of this page.
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