Citrusdal | Clanwilliam | Graafwater | Kompas Gemeente Vredendal | Somerset-Wes


The Danger of Unfounded Judgments

In the realm of human interaction, we often find ourselves making judgments about others based on limited evidence or no evidence at all. These hasty conclusions can have far-reaching consequences, leading to gossip, slander, prejudices, stigmas, and stereotyping. Such behaviours can be harmful, both to individuals and society.

We all make judgments as a natural cognitive process to make sense of the world around us and navigate our daily lives. Judgments help us evaluate and categorize information, make decisions, and form opinions about people, situations, and ideas. They serve as mental “shortcuts” that allow us to process vast amounts of information quickly and efficiently. Judgments also affect our social interactions, helping us assess trustworthiness, safety, and compatibility.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about significant changes in how people interact, leading to a “great disconnect” in social relationships. One contributing factor is the increased reliance on indirect social media connections. While social media platforms offer a means of staying connected virtually, they often lack the depth and authenticity of face-to-face interactions. People may present curated versions of themselves online, leading to a sense of disconnection and superficiality in relationships.

Moreover, prolonged periods of physical distancing and isolation have reduced opportunities for in-person interactions, resulting in a decline in face-to-face connections. Non-verbal cues, such as facial expressions and body language, which play a crucial role in communication and building rapport, are limited in virtual interactions.

Additionally, the prevalence of fake news, misinformation, and echo chambers on social media platforms has further contributed to the disconnection. People may become isolated within their own “echo chambers”, reinforcing their existing beliefs and disconnecting them from diverse perspectives and experiences.

John 7:24 states, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”  This verse cautions against superficial judgments and emphasizes the importance of employing discernment based on solid evidence. It underscores the moral imperative to exercise fairness and impartiality when evaluating others, highlighting the potential harm that unfounded judgments can inflict.

Biblical Examples of Wrong Judgments 

The Pharisees’ Judgement of Jesus:

The Pharisees (religious leaders during the time of Christ), often made erroneous judgments about Jesus, considering Him a blasphemer and false prophet. They failed to recognize His true nature and purpose despite witnessing His miracles and hearing His teachings. Eventually, they justified His malicious and cruel crucifixion! The ultimate example of an INNOCENT falsely convicted to death. 

The Misjudgment of Joseph by His Brothers:

In Genesis 37, Joseph’s brothers wrongly judged him based on jealousy and sold him into slavery. They assumed that Joseph’s dreams and favored status indicated youthful arrogance and sought to punish him. However, their misjudgment was redeemed by God by ultimately causing dire circumstances to contribute to Joseph’s rise to power in Egypt.

The Misjudgment of Job by His Friends:

In the Book of Job, Job’s friends wrongly judged him, assuming that his suffering was a result of his sins and wrongdoing. They offered simplistic explanations and false judgments, failing to grasp the complexity of God’s plan and the depths of Job’s faith.

An Innocent Charged and Convicted

A true story of Brian Banks, a promising high school football player, was wrongly accused of kidnapping and rape. Lacking resources, he pleaded “no contest” and spent five years in prison. Determined to prove his innocence when released on parole, he recorded a conversation with his accuser where she confessed her lies and deception. Her motive was to receive handsome compensation with no intention of remorse or repayment.  He was eventually released, charges were dropped and through persistent determination, he remarkably managed to secure a try-out with the Atlanta Falcons in 2013. He later played for the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League.

A Moral Psychologist’s View

In his influential work, “The Righteous Mind,” psychologist Michael Haidt explores the moral foundations that shape our judgments and behaviors. Haidt argues that our moral judgments are not solely based on reason but are deeply influenced by our intuitive, emotional responses. These responses are often shaped by our social and cultural backgrounds, which can perpetuate stereotypes and biases.  

Haidt proposes six moral values that influence our judgments and shape our moral beliefs.[1] These values are:

  1. Care/Harm: This value is related to empathy, compassion, and concern for the well-being of others. It involves a sensitivity to the suffering and welfare of individuals. When this value is overemphasized, it can lead to biased judgments based solely on the perceived harm caused to others without considering other moral dimensions.
  2. Fairness/Cheating: This value revolves around justice, reciprocity, and fairness. It involves a desire for equal treatment and rejecting cheating or taking advantage of others. However, an excessive focus on fairness can lead to a narrow perspective that disregards other moral considerations or the complexity of certain situations.
  3. Loyalty/Betrayal: This value centers on loyalty, group identity, and commitment to one’s social group or community. When this value is overemphasized, it can lead to biased judgments that favor in-group members and result in discrimination or hostility towards out-group members.
  4. Authority/Subversion: This value relates to respect for authority, hierarchy, and obedience to social norms or rules. Overemphasis on this value can lead to judgments that prioritize conformity over critical thinking, stifling individuality and inhibiting necessary societal progress.
  5. Sanctity/Degradation: This value involves reverence for purity, cleanliness, and the avoidance of anything considered impure or disgusting. When this value is excessively emphasized, it can lead to judgments driven by personal aversions or disgust, disregarding the importance of diverse perspectives and the complexity of moral issues.
  6. Liberty/Oppression: This value pertains to the desire for individual freedom, autonomy, and protection against oppression. However, an extreme focus on liberty can lead to judgments that prioritize individual rights at the expense of communal well-being or fail to address systemic issues and social inequalities.

Trauma Clouds Right Judgment

Recent trauma can have a significant impact on decision-making and lead to false judgments of people. When individuals experience trauma, it can affect their cognitive and emotional functioning, leading to various challenges in processing information and making accurate assessments. Here are a few ways in which recent trauma can influence decision-making negatively:

  1. Hypervigilance and Fear: Trauma can heighten an individual’s sense of threat and trigger hypervigilance. This heightened arousal can lead to distorted perceptions and interpretations of others’ actions or intentions. It may cause individuals to misinterpret neutral or benign behaviors as threatening, leading to false judgments and biases.
  2. Cognitive Impairment: Trauma can impair cognitive functioning, particularly in attention, memory, and executive functioning. This impairment can impact an individual’s ability to gather and process information accurately, leading to errors in judgment and decision-making.
  3. Emotional Dysregulation: Trauma often results in emotional dysregulation, making it challenging for individuals to regulate their emotions effectively. This emotional turmoil can lead to impulsive or irrational decision-making, where decisions are driven by overwhelming emotions rather than sound judgment.
  4. Negative Filtering and Generalization: Individuals who have experienced trauma may filter negatively, focusing primarily on negative aspects or experiences while disregarding positive information. This filtering can lead to biased judgments and negatively distorted perceptions of others. Additionally, trauma can contribute to generalization, where negative experiences are applied to a broader group, leading to stereotypes and prejudices.
  5. Trust and Attachment Issues: Trauma can disrupt individuals’ ability to trust others and form secure attachments. This mistrust can influence their judgments of people, making them more likely to assume negative motives or intentions in others, even when unwarranted.

21 Games of the Mind 

While there are various cognitive biases and thinking errors that can impact our decision-making, here is a list of 21 common mind traps or cognitive biases that can influence our thinking: Daniel Kahneman

  1. Confirmation Bias: Seeking or interpreting information in a way that confirms our existing beliefs. Only seek out news sources that align with your political beliefs and disregard opposing viewpoints.
  2. Availability Heuristic: Relying on easily accessible examples or information when making judgments or decisions. Assuming that shark attacks are more common than they actually are because they receive extensive media coverage.
  3. Anchoring Bias: Being overly influenced by the first piece of information encountered (the anchor) when making judgments. Deciding on the price to offer for a used car based solely on the initial asking price set by the seller.
  4. Overconfidence Bias: Overestimating our abilities, knowledge, or the accuracy of our beliefs. Believing that you will perform exceptionally well in a job interview without adequately preparing or researching the company.
  5. Hindsight Bias: Believing that events were more predictable or foreseeable after they have occurred. Believing that you knew the outcome of a sporting event after it happened, even if you didn’t make any accurate predictions beforehand.
  6. Gambler’s Fallacy: Believing that past events or outcomes influence future probabilities, even when they are unrelated. Thinking that a coin is more likely to land on heads because it has landed on tails several times in a row, despite the odds remaining the same.
  7. Halo Effect: Allowing our impression of someone’s positive qualities to influence our perception of their other qualities. Assuming that a physically attractive person is also intelligent or trustworthy without any evidence to support that assumption.
  8. Sunk Cost Fallacy: Continuing a behavior or investment because of previously invested resources, even if it no longer serves our best interests. Continuously pouring money into a failing business because you have already invested a significant amount of time and resources into it.
  9. Status Quo Bias: Preferring the familiar or maintaining the current situation rather than considering alternatives. Resisting changes to your daily routine, even if there are clear benefits to making adjustments.
  10. Bandwagon Effect: Adopting beliefs or behaviors because many others hold them without critically evaluating them. Supporting a political candidate simply because they lead in the polls rather than critically evaluating their policies and qualifications.
  11. Negativity Bias: Paying more attention to negative information or experiences than positive ones. Focusing on one negative customer review and ignoring numerous positive reviews when purchasing.
  12. Authority Bias: Overvaluing the opinions or judgments of authority figures or experts. Accepting a medical diagnosis without seeking a second opinion solely because the doctor is considered an expert in their field.
  13. False Consensus Effect: Assuming that others share our beliefs, values, or attitudes more than they actually do. Assuming that everyone at a party shares your taste in music because most of your friends do, overlooking the diversity of musical preferences.
  14. Framing Effect: Being influenced by how information is presented or framed. Choosing to purchase a product because it is advertised as “80% fat-free” instead of “20% fat,” despite the information being the same.
  15. Self-Serving Bias: Attributing successes to internal factors and failures to external factors. Taking credit for a successful project but blaming external factors or colleagues for failures or setbacks.
  16. Primacy and Recency Effect: Remembering information presented first or last more quickly than information presented in the middle. Remembering the first and last items on a shopping list, forgetting the items in the middle.
  17. Mindlessness: Engaging in automatic, thoughtless behaviors without conscious awareness or evaluation. Automatically reaching for your phone to check social media notifications without consciously considering if it is the best use of your time.
  18. Emotional Reasoning: Allowing emotions to guide our reasoning and decision-making. Believing that someone must be untrustworthy because they give you a bad feeling, without any evidence to support that conclusion.
  19. Personalization Bias: Believing that events or outcomes are primarily about us, even when they are not. Assuming that when a friend cancels plans, it is because they don’t like you, ignoring that they mentioned being sick earlier.
  20. Fundamental Attribution Error: Overemphasizing dispositional and underemphasizing situational factors when explaining others’ behaviour. Blaming a co-worker’s mistake on their lack of competence while disregarding the stressful circumstances or lack of resources they were facing.
  21. Social Desirability Bias: Modifying our responses or behavior to align with social norms or expectations. Giving answers on a survey you think are socially acceptable, rather than expressing your true opinions or behaviours.[2]

Emotions Deceive 

In her book, “How Emotions Are Made,” Lisa Feldman Barrett challenges the traditional view that emotions are universal, pre-wired responses to specific stimuli. Instead, she proposes that our brains construct emotions based on individual experiences, cultural influences, and learned concepts. According to Barrett, our emotions are not fixed and automatic but relatively flexible and shaped by various factors.

Barrett argues that our emotions are crucial in shaping our perceptions and judgments. When we experience an emotion influences how we interpret and make sense of the world around us. However, since emotions are constructed and influenced by our personal and cultural contexts, they can sometimes lead to false assumptions and judgments.

For example, let’s consider a situation where someone receives a curt email from a colleague. If that person is feeling anxious or insecure, they may interpret the email as hostile or disrespectful, assuming harmful intentions from their colleague. However, if the same email is received when the person is feeling confident and secure, they may interpret it as neutral or even positive.

The emotional state of the individual influences these interpretations and judgments. Emotions can cloud and distort our perceptions and influence how we attribute meaning to events or behaviors. Our emotions can lead us to make assumptions about others’ intentions, motivations, or character, even when there might be little or no evidence to support those assumptions.[3]

Righteous Judgements by the Holy Spirit 

Are you tired of witnessing the damaging effects of unfounded judgments? It’s time to take a stand and make a change! Together, we can create a more compassionate and inclusive society.

Here’s how you can get involved:

Pray, Love, and Bless your enemy: By praying for your enemies, those who spitefully use you, and those who persecute you, you become the mediator instead of the accusor.  

Reflect: Take a moment (at least 5-minutes) to examine your own biases and prejudices. Are there any unfounded judgments you may have made in the past? Acknowledging them is the first step towards growth. 

Educate Yourself: Dive into the works of Lisa Feldman Barrett; Michael Haidt; Daniel Kahneman. Exploring these insightful books will help you gain a deeper understanding of the psychological and moral foundations behind judgments.

Challenge Stereotypes: Be mindful of the stereotypes and prejudices that may influence your judgments. Question their validity and seek out diverse perspectives to broaden your understanding.

Foster Empathy: Cultivate empathy by putting yourself in others’ shoes. Strive to understand their experiences, struggles, and aspirations. Remember, everyone has a unique story.

Engage in Dialogue: Initiate conversations with individuals from different backgrounds. Listen attentively, share your own experiences, and learn from one another. Constructive dialogue is key to breaking down barriers and fostering understanding.

In the END, we are ALL JUDGED by our ACTIONS!  From what is deep-seated in our hearts will be heard in our words and language. Our actions are the fruit of our lives.  

“By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit, you will recognize them.” Matthew 7:16-20 (NIV).

During the recent flooding in our region, you may have had all kinds of judgments against people because of appearances and stigmas, to be proven wrong, people’s actions of love and emphatic care.  

Let’s make a collective effort to adhere to John 7:24:

“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

Together, we can dismantle gossip, slander, prejudices, stigmas, and stereotypes, building a society rooted in fairness, respect, and understanding.

[1] Haidt, J. (2012). Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion. Penguin Books, Limited.

[2] Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

[3] BARRETT, LISA. FELDMAN. (2020). How emotions are made: The secret life of the brain. PICADOR. 


One Word Tells a Story


A sermon by Dr Ruben Richards

Delivered 18 October 2020, Olifants River Valley (Citrusdal-Clanwilliam) Western Cape


John Chapter 1 vv.43-50.

Nazareth. What good can come from there!

Dr Ruben Richards (PhD, University of Cape Town) Harvester Reformational Church, Olifants River Valley, Citrusdal-Clanwilliam, Western Cape

Sunday, 18 October 2020 at 10h00 and 18h00.


  • The text
  • When good news is no news
  • Profile of Nazareth
  • Take home lesson from the story 

CONTEXTUAL SUMMARY Socialised into the negative

  • Paul and Galatians use one-word
  • Nazareth. Socio-political profile
  • Virgin birth 
  • Cause of genocide
  • Wise men (Magi) commit treason Resettling in Nazareth
  • Come and See


  • Nathanael encounters the messiah
  • The shift
  • The catch – the challenge

 Annexure 1 – Scriptural context – Gospel of John Chapter 1 (NIV translation.


Dear Reader of this sermon.

First of all, thank you for your interest in reading this sermon manuscript. I hope this manuscript does justice to the live delivery of the message. For ease of reference I have amended (and consequently extended) this version of the manuscript by adding END notes and maps for more detailed references for further study. I have also added some personal information (see below Annexure 2 – CV and Profile – Ruben Richards).

I hope you find this sermon useful.

God bless you.



It is my honour to greet you all in the name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Thank you to Pastor Jan for the kind invitation to share this worship service with you. My prayer is that God may open our hearts and minds to receive a message from God’s holy word this morning.


I was born, raised and educated on the Cape Flats of the Western Cape, with a few years of postgraduate study in the USA, Switzerland and Germany. I was raised to speak and think in English although my parents spoke mostly Afrikaans to each other. My English language preference is strange given that the first language for the majority of people classified Coloured in Afrikaans. These days, living and working in the farmlands of the Olifants River Valley (Citrusdal- Clanwilliam), I am learning to engage in the dominant language here, namely Afrikaans.


The title of my sermon today is “One word tells a story”. Sometimes, you only have to say one word and that singular word which is equivalent to a 100-Gigabyte or a Terrabyte of information. That one word can miraculously tell you everything you need to know about a place or a persons entire history and identity. For example, the word “Coloured”. Or the word, “Citrusdal”. “WuppertalPiketberg. Or the word that is on our lips these days, especially us in the farming community – the word “Senekal.

Importance of John’s gospel

My sermon today is taken from the New Testament, the Gospel of John. For some this gospel is important because a favourite old school chorus/song comes from this gospel. I am tempted to sing it to you but then I am going to reveal my bad voice and my age. (John 13:34) – A new commandment I give unto you that you love one another. Ek gee julle ‘n nuwe gebod: julle moet mekaar lief hê.

No doubt, for others the gospel of John is important because of the nature of the first miracle of Jesus as recorded in John chapter 2. Jesus and his mother are attending a wedding feast at Cana of Galilee, where the party runs out of wine. As a result of the prompting of his mother, Jesus turns the water into wine – and not just one bottle but 866 bottles of wine (using the 750ml standard wine bottle of today – about a total of 650 litres of water into wine – 6 stone jars each holding about 115 liters (30 gallons)John 2 verse 6ff).

For now, the only tongue-in-cheek point I want to make is this: When you go to a wedding feast you must take with you someone like Jesus and especially someone like his mother – she knows what a party needs … met Eish ja.

Focus and setting of my sermon today – Bethsaida

For my sermon today I want to focus on the first chapter of the Gospel of John and I want to specifically zoom into the end of that chapter – verses 43 to 50 – which describe the calling of the

The context and setting of our story are a fishing village along the shores of the Sea of Galilee – a village called Bethsaida in the northern part of Israel or Palestine. To give us orientation I thought I would share a slide with you to show you the map of Palestine in the time of Jesus [Show slide].

Key verse

The key verse for my sermon will be verse 46: Let me read it to you: It says in the NIV translation:

Nazareth: What good can come from there.

Let me summarise the story.


fourth disciple by the name of Nathanael.


The text

The story goes as follows: John chapter 1 and vv.35 to 42, tells us that Jesus had just recruited three disciples, Andrew, Peter and Phillip – all three of them residents of Bethsaida. Phillip is so excited about being appointed as a disciple, that runs home to tell his friend, Nathanael. He tells his friend that he had just met the messiah – the one which Moses and the Prophets wrote about (v.45). That messiah, says Philip, comes from Nazareth (just down the road)he is the son of Joseph the carpenter – just in case you don’t know who I am talking about, Nathanael.

When good news is no news

I am sure you have experienced what I am about to describe to you. You receive fantastic and good news and you can’t wait to share it with friends and family. You rush home and you tell them your good news and their response is sometimes one word or sound: UUMM.. Ja. Ne. PhewNiceAnd if you have real friends then they use two words in their response to you. Is it? Nogal ne. Often the response of your friends is negative. And you are left with the feeling of: Why did I even bother to tell them.

Philip must have felt the same. Finally, the fulfillment of a prophecy in my life time – a prophecy of more than 1000 years ago is fulfilled in my lifetime – a prophecy recorded by the highest authority on scripture namely Moses and the prophets. The messiah is here and he has recruited me to be part of his team. Can you believe it. In fact, can you believe it that he comes from the next town – so close – Nazareth. Wow, what a thrill to be part of making history with a person from Nazareth.

And Nathanael says: Nazareth … What good can come from there (v.46). Profile of Nazareth

Now Nazareth was about 50 kilometers from Bethsaida (Citrusdal-Clanwillaim distance). And Nathanael’s response is: Nazareth!. Are you telling me this messiah comes from down the road – the next town? Then Nathanael gives the knockout punch – What good can come from there!! Nazareth.

Now, brothers and sisters, where does Nathanael’s prejudiceskepticism and negative energy come from? What did Nazareth do to Nathanael. Why does he have such a negative view of Nazareth? What was going on there that Nathanael did not like – that did not impress him. What is the history of that town and its people that causes Nathanael to have such a low view of that place? The story does not tell us why. We need to conjecture.

Take home lesson from the story

May I propose that one of the take home lessons for my sermon today is not Nathaniel’s response but Philips response to the negative feedback. Philip is facing a skeptical and negative friend, Nathaniel. Phillip does not argue with his friend, Nathaniel. He does not swear or curse or insult his friend. His simply says to Nathaniel: Come and See (v.47). In other words, he is saying: Come and see for yourself if I am lying or making up stories. Come and see (an invitation to experience something first hand) that this is in fact the messiah.

We know how the story ends: Nathaniel comes and sees and is overwhelmed by Jesus and says to Jesus (v.49): Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel. In others words, Im going to follow you. Phillip was right. This is the person that Moses and the prophets spoke about.


Socialized into the negative


Allow me to contextualize the story even further. You see, we are socialized – we are raised up – educated and sometimes indoctrinated to believe things about people and places. We tend to nurture negative stereotypes of people and places, often reducing them to a one-word description. So, when someone says that specific word like – Nazareth – … just one word … we are able to tell a whole story … often, a negative story. In fact, Nathaniel is more explicit and honest and says

what we think but dare not say: Can anything good come from Nazareth. Nathaniel was not a politically correct person.

Strange how we remember the negative stories – the bad – the ugly stories about people. South Africa is a good example of the one-word story: Whites. Coloureds. Indians. Africans. Khoisan.

Paul and Galatians use one-word

The Apostle Paul in the book of Galatians summarizes what it means to be a Christian using the one-word technique. He plays with the one-word approach to explain what it means to be a follower of Jesus of Nazareth.

He says in Galatians 3 v 23 in Christ Jesus there is neither Male nor Female. Neither Jew nor Greek. Neither Slave or Free; For we are One is Christ Jesus, says the Apostle Paul. You see the dichotomies which Paul contrasts says that in Christ there is no gender prejudice (male or female); there is not cultural prejudice (Jews or Greeks); there no economic hierarchy (no slave no free). In Christ we are one; we are all equal in Christ.

But, Nathaniel did not read the book of Galatians. So we are still stuck with a negative and skeptical Nathaniel. Like Nathaniel, we don’t always first remember the positive.

Nazareth. Socio-political profile



What makes the story all the more dramatic is that Nathaniel lived on Bethsaida barely 50 km kilometres from the hometown of Jesus – the next town Nazareth. Let’s look at our map again. Nathaniel, I am guessing, could have known the gossip of the town. I am almost sure that

everybody in the surrounding villages would have known that a woman by the name of Mary, whose boyfriend / later husband was Joseph the carpenter had a baby called Jesus. In fact, Jesus was the scandalous baby because Mary conceived Jesus out of wedlock. So that’s the negative narrative / story that everybody would have known. A virgin birth? Unbelievable!

In fact, more seriously, everybody would have known that this baby called Jesus, made history as he was the cause of the genocide of the first born of Jews at the hands of Herod at time that Jesus was born. You will remember the birth story of Jesus – The Christmas story as told in the gospel of Matthew chapter 2. In short, news had reached King Herod via the Wise Men (Magi) who were following the stars and they ended up in Jerusalem. They were looking for the “new king” – “new liberator”.

Can you imagine going to President Ramaphosa or President Trump of the USA and saying to him: I have come in search of the new President – I have come to worship that new President – King of The Jews.

Matthew Chapter 2

V.1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem V.2 and asked, Where is the one who has been born king of the

Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.

After all, Herod was the colonial King of the Jews.


The stars were their GPS (their guiding system – the coordinates guiding the Wise Men). But unfortunately, they were about 9 kilometres off the destination target/route. We know that the baby was born in Bethlehem, nine kilometres south of Jerusalem – under the nose of Herod.

We read in Matthews gospel that Herod tried to recruit the Wise men (Magi) as spies to confirm

that such a baby “king” was born (Matt 2 v7).  Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

When the wise men did not return, Herod become so paranoid that he ordered the killing of all male babies under two years old hoping to kill off Jesus (Matt 2 v 16). When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.


Joseph and Mary were warned by an angel and then fled to Egypt where they lived in exile with their baby Jesus, until the genocide was over and returned to Palestine after Herod died. We read

all this in the Gospel of Mathew chapter 2.



In fact, when Mary and Joseph returned, they settled (not in Bethlehem) but in Nazareth, and this is where Jesus grows up as a child, in Nazareth.

I can hear Phillip saying to Nathaniel: Im talking about a guy from Nazareth … you must have heard of him. The prophets wrote about him. Moses wrote about him. King Herod wanted to kill him. And he survived the genocide by being in exile in Egypt.

Phillip must have felt so deflated by his friend. Nevertheless, he held his composure and simply said: You know what Nathaniel, I’m not going to argue with you. Just COME AND SEE for yourself. And then you can decide if I am crazy or real; if I am telling the truth or a lie. Come and See.


Nathaniel encounters the Messiah

Surprisingly, the story ends on a very good note. The negative Nathaniel is given a positive appraisal by Jesus. We read this in Verse 47 – When Jesus saw Nathaniel approaching, he said of him;

“Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit / a person of integrity / an honest person.”7

Just imagine – you had doubts about this messiah and said negative things about his town. And then the first thing the messiah says to you is something positive about you. Of course, that is a topic for another sermon.

The shift

The catch – the challenge


So, Phillip the disciple tells Nathaniel his friend: It is that Jesus of Nazareth who is the messiah… the son of Joseph the carpenter … the one who caused the genocide perpetrated by King Herod. That’s the Jesus.

No wonder Nathaniel said: What good can come from Nazareth.

The point of emphasis for this sermon is that Nathaniel experienced a shift – he went from a skeptic to a believer. From a negative person to a positive person because he was invited to experience the messiah, first hand.

And that is my sermon. Come and see for yourself that Jesus of Nazareth is the messiah.

But there is a challenge – a sting in the tail for Believers. Jesus is no longer physically here on earth. In fact, Jesus says that those of us who believe in him will be his representatives on earth. So, when people meet us, they are meeting the next best thing to meeting Jesus in person. My question is: Are we worthy representatives of Jesus of Nazareth. If we say to people, Come and See, what is it that they will experience from us. Will they conclude that indeed Jesus is the messiah, the son of God, just like Nathaniel did? Will our lives and testimony cause unbelievers and skeptics

to make a shift, like Nathaniel made the shift?


I pray God’s blessing on us all, as we together strive to be worthy representatives of the messiah Jesus, the one Moses and the Prophets wrote about – the son of Joseph – the one from Nazareth.




Annexure 2 – Maps of Palestine






Annexure 3 – CV and Profile of Dr Ruben Richards

Profile – RUBEN R. RICHARDS (PhD, University of Cape Town) Nation Builder, Peace Negotiator and Author

Cape Town-born Ruben Richards is a multi-skilled South African deeply involved in nation building and reconciliation.

Rubens work life started as a worker in a clothing factory; then as a fitter and turner
artisan followed by academic studies. Ruben is an ordained Christian clergyperson
and served congregations in Soweto and Cape Town and holds a doctorate in Old
Testament. Ruben
s professional career spans many disciplines including
engineering, academia and civil society. Professionally, Ruben has served, among
others, as the Executive Secretary of South Africa
s Truth and Reconciliation
Commission (Human Rights Committee), Deputy-Director-General of the Scorpions
(an investigative unit in the National Prosecuting Authority), and is founder of the
Ruben Richards Foundation, a South African non-profit organisation dedicated to
facilitating healing in traumatised communities. In 2015 the Foundation received the
prestigious National Reconciliation Award conferred by the Institute for Justice and
Reconciliation. The award was for the Foundations work in healing, restoration and confronting those things which exclude marginalised people from main stream society.

Ruben has consulted to various African countries on matters relative to transitional justice with particular reference to the setting up of a Truth Commission. These assignments have included being appointed by the Tunisia Truth Commission as an international observer of the first public hearings of that country and technical advisor to the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission of Zimbabwe. Ruben has also delivered a keynote addresses in Kigali, Rwanda on lessons learned from Truth Commissions and also to the Law Society of Swaziland University on fighting corruption based on lessons from South Africas Scorpions.


Ruben has facilitated intimate sessions with senior and executive staff within the justice sector in African countries.

Ruben holds degrees from Switzerland, USA and South Africa and is a published author. His most recent publication Bastaards or Humans (Volume 1 & 2) [ ] has been endorsed by the Western Cape Education Department as an alternative history of South Africa to be integrated into the history curriculum of high school learners.

Ruben resides in Cape Town, married for 35 years and has two adult children (Mpilo 29 yrs and Nomsa 24 yrs).


  • Born: 28 June 1960, Cape Town

  • Current residence: Twee Riviere Farm, Clanwilliam, Cape Town

  • Current activity: Citrus farming; consulting to the UNDP on Transitional Justice; facilitating the work of the

    Ruben Richards Foundation

  • International: Lived and studied in Germany, Switzerland, USA, South Africa.

  • Qualifications: Ph.D. (1995)-University of Cape Town; M.Th. (1999)-Michigan, USA; B.D. (2001)-Zurich,

    Switzerland; B.Soc.Sc. (1998)-University of Cape Town; NTC5 (1983) [Mechanical Engineering]-Athlone

    Technical College, Cape Town).

  • Academic assignments: Adjunct Professor, Security Studies (Wits P&DM); Visiting Professor, Texas Christian

    University; Visiting Professor, Albion College, Michigan-USA.

    Career highlights

  • Citrus farmer (Current)

  • CEO – Globe Engineering (largest Marine and Heavy Engineering company in Southern Africa)

  • CEO- Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry

  • Deputy Director-General, National Prosecuting Authority (Scorpions Investigating Unit)

  • Executive Secretary- Truth Commission of South Africa

  • Visiting Professor – (P&DM School of Governance) Wits University

    Some Accolades

  • Negotiated the largest donation of citrus fruit (i.e. 7 million oranges-Project Orange) for the poor and vulnerable. This is the largest such donation in the history of the citrus industry, locally and internationally.

  • Author: The recent two-volume history of South Africa has been accepted as an alternative history to be integrated into the high school curriculum of the Western Cape.

  • Creator of a unique and world first; A 3-day Global Leadership Program based on Indigenous Khoisan wisdom, and taught on Robben Island.

  • Recipient of the National Reconciliation Award, Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (2015)

  • Peace negotiator between rival gangs on Cape Flats resulting in longest cease fire in history of gang violence

    in South Africa.

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Books by Ruben

A sermon by Dr Ruben Richards

Delivered 18 October 2020, Olifants River Valley (Citrusdal-Clanwilliam) Western Cape


The ultimate solution to crime and unemployment in South Africa (Mutloatsi Heritage Arts Trust, Johannesburg, 2010). ISBN 9-780986983320


A regenerative solution to building sustainable African cities.

Editors: Gita Govan, Ruben Richards, Alistair Rendall (Reygan Publishers, Cape Town, 2012).


A case study in peace building through industrial consciousness.

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Reconstructing South Africa.

Edited by Louise Kretzschmar and Ruben Richards

(Baptist Convention of South Africa, Johannesburg, 1996). ISBN 0-620-20735-3


The unspoken heritage of coloured people [Origins, Identity, Culture and Challenges] (Indaba Publishing, California, USA, 2017). ISBN 9-781947599017


500 years of intimacy between South Africa and Europe

(Indaba Publishing, California, USA, 2018). ISBN 9-781947599086

Contact: Cell: +27 82 498 0608; fax: +27 86 684 684 7

(IFN Media, November 2015) ISBN 9-780620689052

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Interestingly this miracle is not mentioned in the other gospels. John Chapter 2 – Wedding feast at Cana

v5. His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial

washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”


They did so, into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned

Could possibly be the fifth disciple, if we take into consideration that two of John the Baptist disciples broke away to follow Jesus – Andrew and one other (possibly the one writing the narrative – John).

[Anna] began giving thanks to God and speaking about the child to all who were waiting for Jerusalem’s deliverance.” (Luke 2:36-38; Ex. 13:12).


Centuries of colonial domination

Let’s pause for a moment. Why was this news wonderful and exciting and indeed revolutionary? Who and what was this messiah that Moses wrote about in the law over a thousand years earlier? Why would Phillip describe Jesus as the long-awaited messiah?

Well, for centuries, the Jews had been subjected to the colonial rule of foreigners such as the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks and now, at the time of Jesus, it was the Romans who ruled Palestine. And life was tough under the Roman (Italian) colonial government which was led by King Herod.


Messianic Expectations: When Jesus was dedicated in the temple in Jerusalem as a baby, there was an 84-year old prophetess by the name of Anna, who prophesied that this baby, Jesus, is the messiah – the one everybody was waiting for who would liberate Jerusalem.

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Messianic expectations were extremely high among the first century Jews as they were suffering under the yoke of Roman colonial oppression. The Romans raised taxes, appointed the high priest and later erected statues of the Roman emperor in the temple itself – the ultimate sacrilege.

Roman rule at the time of Jesus

Let me remind you that Roman colonial rule was tough if not abominable. When the Romans occupied Palestine/Israel in 63 B.C.E. life for the Jews became increasingly difficult for three major reasons: taxes, Roman control over the High Priest and the general treatment of Jews by the Romans. Remember, it was the Romans who later fed the Christians the lions as a sport.

Taxes: No one likes being taxed, but under Roman rule, taxation became an even heavier burden. Roman governors were responsible for collecting tax revenue in Israel, but they corrupt and greedy. They over taxed the people and took the surplus for themselves. Now you can imagine what people thought of Jesus who appointed a tax collector as one of his disciples. A very problematic appointment, on the face of it.

Sacrilege/idolatry: Then one of the Roman Emperors (i.e. Caligula who came to power and in the year 39 C.E. ) declared himself a god and ordered that statues in his image be placed in every house of worship within his realmincluding the Temple.

The Jews were waiting for liberator to free them from this kind of colonial rule and abomination. They were waiting for a messiah. We notice this even at the dedication of Jesus. When Mary brought her firstborn son (Jesus) to Jerusalem in order to present him to God as the Mosaic Law required, the prophetess Anna “began giving thanks to God and speaking about the child to all who were waiting for Jerusalem’s deliverance.” (Luke 2:36-38; Ex. 13:12).

Matt 2 v 7: Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the


6Mark6:1-6 NewInternationalVersion

A Prophet Without Honour


Religious interference: Another upsetting aspect of the Roman occupation was the way it

affected the High Priest, who served in the Temple. Under Roman rule the Romans decided who would be the high priests. In other words, the state/government appointed the high priest/pastor.

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And so, finally, the messiah was born in Bethlehem and grew up in Nazareth – just 50 kilometers from Nathanael’s home.

star had appeared.
child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”



He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the

16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.


“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph,Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

6 Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples.
Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.

Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. Word Study – Deceit

He was amazed at their lack of faith.

Strong’s Concordance

dolos: a bait, fig. craft, deceit

Original Word: δόλος, ου, ὁ

Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine

Transliteration: dolos

Phonetic Spelling: (dol’-os)

Definition: a bait, craft, deceit

Usage: deceit, guile, treachery.

HELPS Word-studies

1388 dólos – properly, bait; (figuratively) deceit (trickery) using bait to alure (“hook”) people, especially those already festering in excessiveemotional pain (brought on by themselves).

1388 /dólos (“deceit motivated by guile“) uses decoys to snare (deceive) people which implies treachery to exploit the naive (undiscerning) – baiting them through (with) their own greed.

[1388 (dólos) is the root of: 1386 (dólios), 1387 (dolióō) and 1389 (dolóō).]

John 1:47 N-NMS

GRK: ἐν ᾧ δόλος οὐκ ἔστιν

NAS: there is no deceit!

KJV: is no guile!

INT: in whom deceit not is


Eliminate the sin of partiality

Acts 17:26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation. God gave the boundaries, and we ARE different, WE ARE NOT CALLED TO BECOME COLORBLIND, BUT COLOR SHOULD NOT EFFECT THE WAY WE TREAT/FAVOR/LOVE PEOPLE. Acts 10:34-35 Opening his mouth, Peter said: “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.

The Greek word “prosopolemptes” literally means ‘a receptor of the face or person’. lt is part of a larger group of similar words which combine to form an idiom which refers to the principle of non-discrimination, one being not a respecter of persons, and the like. Jesus applied this principle very clearly in his interactions with the Samaritans and His teaching on the subject, to even love your enemies. (Luk 6:27-36) Jesus underlines God’s mercy on Heathen (Luke 4:26-27) He rebukes the disciples when they want to pray for God’s judgement on a town that would not receive them. (Luk 9:51-56) The story of the good Samaritan also deals with religious prejudices. (Luk 10:33) The point is clear there is not a nation on this planet who does not struggle with the same human works of the flesh, like pride, selfish ambition and jealousy. All are in need of the salvation that Christ gives. God spoke to me simply; “Go and make contact” (Mat 28:19) and treat every person with respect. (1 Pet 2:17)

Partiality: Bias, one-sided, prejudice, inclination, discrimination, favour, predisposition, inclination, towards a certain type of person because of their power, influence, or money.

“in aliam partem declinando”

Romans 2:11 For there is NO PARTIALITY with God.
1 Timothy 5:21 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, DOING NOTHING IN A SPIRIT OF PARTIALITY. “without prejudice, doing nothing by favour.”

Paul charges Timothy before the Supreme Court of Heaven (Dramatic Present tense) that he observes (Constative Aorist tense) these principles of doctrine with the utmost in objectivity. Timothy is to guard and defend (Latin: custodian) Bible doctrine from the false teachers within and without. He is to exercise his authority and leadership objectively, making all policies and decisions without pre-judging anyone or discriminating against any man. Paul makes this oath in front of the Father (acting as Judge), Christ Jesus (as our Defense Attorney), and to the elect angels who are observing the human race in action. The scene Paul is portraying is the appeal trial of Satan. Furthermore, Timothy is to do absolutely nothing (Customary Present tense) with a spirit of favoritism. He must exercise fairness and justice to all members of a congregation, and not compromise his principles when dealing with a few close friends or associates. In other words, there is no double standard. He cannot reprimand some individuals for the sins of gossiping and maligning and then let some of his friends “slide” who are doing likewise. Paul is in effect painting a courtroom scene for Timothy, with God the Father as presiding Judge and Jesus Christ as the believer’s Defense Attorney. By exercising his apostolic authority, Timothy is also engaged in a courtroom scene. Paul wants him to be fair and impartial when he is called to discipline a member of the local church – as if he was in the Supreme Court of Heaven presenting his case. Extreme caution must be exercised. Reprimanding a believer in public is serious business. It is no time to play favorites, chastising one believer while allowing others to go unchecked. It is no time to compromise for any reason; the truth of a matter is already known in heaven, so Timothy must remember Who is watching over his actions.

CODE OF JUDICIAL CONDUCT FOR SOUTH AFRICAN JUDGES section 165(2) of the Constitution provides that the courts are independent and subject only to the Constitution and the law, which they must apply without fear, favour or prejudice;

“Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly” (Leviticus 19:15)

No distinction between the poor and rich
Proverbs 22:2 The RICH AND THE POOR have a common bond, The LORD is the maker of them all. Integrasie is ’n Nasionale Visie –

No partiality according to salary level: John 13:16 “Truly, truly, I say to you, A SLAVE IS NOT GREATER THAN HIS MASTER, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. From prison, Paul wrote to a friend whose slave had run away, had met Paul, and had come to faith. Paul appealed to his friend on the basis of their relationship to welcome the slave back not as a slave but as a brother. He offered to repay any loss from his own pocket. The letter survives in the New Testament as the book of “Philemon” and is a touching example of a dedicated believer seeking to internally motivate a slaveholder to change his attitudes and behavior. Philemon 1-25. The point is clear, do not treat rich people differently because they are rich, the same applies to the poor.

Treat everyone the same – LOVE THEM!
James 2:1 My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an ATTITUDE OF PERSONAL FAVORITISM. James 2:2-4 For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?

Romans 10:12-13 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.” No national cultural favoritism: Colossians 3:11

No Partiality according to TITLE AND POSITION:
Matthew 23:8 “But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers.

No Gender inequality Galatians 3:28