Was Jesus HIV Positive?
Imagine starting your next sermon series, “Today I will start with a three-part sermon on: Jesus was HIV-positive.”? Pastor Xola Skosana from Cape Town did just recently and it has tongues wagging, not just in his church but across the world. The way in which news spreads in our digital age has ensured that Xola’s views are being hotly debated and some Christians are outraged as the the implication is that Jesus was sexually promiscuous. That isn’t always the reason that people have HIV, but I see their point. Well, does Xola have a point?
Before we examine that lets put the debate in its context in South Africa, and more locally in the vast slums of Khayelitsha where Xola ministers a pastor of a growing non-denominational Hope for Life Ministry. (By the way you pronounce his name with a click – find a South African to teach you, you’ll never look back and will impress all around you).
In South Africa alone:
* 5.7m carry Aids virus
* 18% of those aged 15 to 49 HIV-positive
* 460,000 receiving ARVs (estimated in 2008)
* 350 000 deaths due to Aids (estimated in 2007)
* 1.4m Aids orphans
Source: UNAids/WHO/Unicef epidemiological fact sheet, 2008
‘Wherever you open the scriptures Jesus puts himself in the shoes of people who experience brokenness,’ the Pastor told the BBC. ‘Isaiah 53, for example, clearly paints a picture of Jesus who takes upon himself the infirmities and the brokenness of humanity.
‘Of course, there’s no scientific evidence that Jesus had the HI virus in his bloodstream. The best gift we can give to people who are HIV-positive is to help de-stigmatise Aids and create an environment where they know God is not against them, he’s not ashamed of them.’
To conclude his sermon, he says: ‘The message to the church is that it is not enough for us to give people food privately and give them groceries, we must create an environment that’s empowering because most people who are HIV-positive will not necessarily die of Aids-related sickness but more of a broken heart, out of rejection.’ (Source: Mail & Guardian)
Xola lost two sisters to Aids and so the tragedy of the situation facing South Africa (and the world) is something he knows personally. Xola argues that religious leaders have to play a much bigger role in combating the spread of the pandemic in South Africa where more than 5.7 million people live with the virus – more than in any other country. And he concluded the last of his three-part sermon by taking an HIV test in front of the congregation – after which 100 churchgoers followed his example.
“The message to the church is that it is not enough for us to give people food privately and give them groceries, we must create an environment that’s empowering because most people who are HIV-positive will not necessarily die of Aids-related sickness but more of a broken heart, out of rejection,” he says. Read more at the BBC.
Here’s Xola talking about what motivates him and his dreams for the future in ministry:
So what do you think? Is it theologically correct to argue on the basis of Is 53 that the infirmities of this world that Jesus bore included ALL infirmities including AIDS. Is this a meaningful way of helping people suffering with AIDS to derive dignity in knowing that Jesus identifies with them in their suffering?