• Service times

    Services times are:

    Saturday night 7:30 pm for our Chinese/English service [except for the second Saturday of every month when the service starts at 6:30 pm and is followed by a shared meal]. (Pastor Daniel Choi.)

    Sunday 10 am for our English language service (Pastor Jeff Whittaker).

    Sunday 11:30 am for our Chinese (Mandarin) language service. (Pastor Daniel Choi.)

  • Contact details…

    Physical and postal address:
    4 Inverary Avenue,
    Epsom,
    Auckland 1023,
    NEW ZEALAND.

    Email:
    epsombaptist@clear.net.nz

    Telephone:
    (0064 9) 6306010

    Contacts:
    Rev. Jeff Whittaker
    Pastor Daniel Choi

  • Church Officers…

    Church Treasurer: Ann Guan

    Church Secretary: Margaret Whittaker

    Church Deacons: Anne Bartley, Ian de Stigter, Kristy Choi, Helen Evans, Willa Hui, and Alfred Zhou.

Thirty pieces of silver…

The image of ‘thirty pieces of silver’ has established itself in Christian, and indeed in Western, lore as a byword for betrayal, for selling out. Coming from the Easter story of Judas offering to betray Jesus, it’s interesting to find that the image was not new at that point. A little research on the internet throws up numerous discussions about the thirty pieces of silver, and what they signified already in the time of the New Testament writers.

judas-brought-again-the-thirty-pieces-of-silver-to-the-chief-priests-and-elders

And so, one finds discussion on the thirty pieces of silver that Zechariah – in a difficult piece of prophetic writing (Zechariah chapter 11) – suggests is the dismissive value that the leaders of Judah put on God’s shepherding care. There is the reference in Matthew 27 to Jeremiah’s purchase of a field for this amount (although the Old Testament precedent cannot be found), the price being linked to that required to redeem someone (presumably from slavery). And then there is the statement in Exodus 21: 32 of 30 shekels as being the value of a slave. [Of course, it is not certain that ‘pieces’ are ‘shekels.’ Nevertheless, there does seem to be a significant usage of thirty units of money.]

Now, this is probably familiar material to many of you. But I want to push things a little further. The original events of Easter were set around the annual Passover festival, when Israel gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate God’s rescuing them from slavery in Egypt. So, what are Israel’s leaders doing paying a slave price – whoever may be considered to have been bought – in the midst of a celebration of rescue from slavery? Does not this expose them to self-condemnation?

In fact, I think this points out that judgment does not fall on any of us because we fall short of standards we know nothing about. I think that we all stand with Israel’s leaders, and are found to be sinners because self-interest over-rules a commitment to higher principles that we openly espouse.

Thank God that all this sin, for all of us sinners, was taken to the cross by Jesus Christ and its condemnatory power destroyed there.

New Creation…

Over the season of Lent, I have been exploring different aspects of ‘the Cross.’ Like any powerful symbol, the Cross of Jesus is multi-faceted. One of the tragedies of much church life is that the significance of the Cross has been reduced to a few theories about atonement. The Cross is about atonement, but also much, much, more. And so, last Sunday, preaching on Galatians 6: 11 – 18, I reflected on the Cross as a catalyst for new creation. Some of the points I made were:

  • In this part of his letter to the church in Galatia, Paul contrasts ‘the flesh’ with ‘new creation.’ We are probably more used to flesh – which I defined as individual rebellion against God, and not as our physical nature – being contrasted with ‘spirit,’ a contrast that can lead to an unhelpful gnostic-like emphasis on the spiritual realm while disregarding our physical nature and place within the created order.
  • When there is a gathering together of many ‘fleshes,’ one begins to see ‘the world,’ that organised system of human rebellion against God.

 

The promise of redeemed creation.

 

  • When there is a gathering together of ‘new creations,’ one can catch a glimpse of redeemed creation, which in its fullness will be recognisable as the Kingdom of God.

Let us not give up hope of seeing creation redeemed, of being able to welcome the Kingdom of God as it is revealed in this material sphere in which we live. May I encourage you to live not in the flesh, but – oriented towards the Cross – allow yourself to experience the transformation into a new creation.