Summary: The New Covenant means 1. God will change me from within, 2. I have full access to God’s presence, 3. I am freed from bondage to sin, and 4. I need not doubt my salvation.
Main idea: Through the New Covenant I can have a personal relationship with God.
Hearers will understand the difference between the Old and New Covenants.
Hearers will understand why the New Covenant is so important.
Hearers will enter into the New Covenant with God.
Luke 22:7-20 (The Message)
7The Day of Unleavened Bread came, the day the Passover lamb was butchered. 8Jesus sent Peter and John off, saying, "Go prepare the Passover for us so we can eat it together."
9They said, "Where do you want us to do this?"
10He said, "Keep your eyes open as you enter the city. A man carrying a water jug will meet you. Follow him home. 11Then speak with the owner of the house: The Teacher wants to know, "Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’ 12He will show you a spacious second-story room, swept and ready. Prepare the meal there."
13They left, found everything just as he told them, and prepared the Passover meal.
14When it was time, he sat down, all the apostles with him, 15and said, "You’ve no idea how much I have looked forward to eating this Passover meal with you before I enter my time of suffering. 16It’s the last one I’ll eat until we all eat it together in the kingdom of God."
17Taking the cup, he blessed it, then said, "Take this and pass it among you. 18As for me, I’ll not drink wine again until the kingdom of God arrives."
19Taking bread, he blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, given for you. Eat it in my memory."
20He did the same with the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant written in my blood, blood poured out for you.”
Here Luke narrates an important event in the life of Jesus and in the history of humanity. No – I’m not talking about the Last Supper (as it has come to be known) or even the instituting of the remembrance we now call “communion” (though I believe that is important). The more important event happening here is what communion symbolizes – a little talked about but central idea to the Christian faith – “The New Covenant”.
But what is this “new covenant”? What was wrong with the old one? And why, 2000 years later and half a world away, should any of us care about the New Covenant?
We’ll get to all of these questions in time – but let me start out by saying the New Covenant, when properly understood, provides us the foundation for an incredibly personal and powerful spiritual life – and when ignored or misunderstood leaves us searching for God through legalistic and impersonal religiosity. I know which option I want to have in my life!
1. What is a “covenant”?
Today when we hear the word “covenant” we think of things like neighborhood regulations about what colors we can paint our home or how high we can build our fence. But what about in the Bible?
In ancient times, a covenant was a treaty between two parties. There were two kinds of covenants: a voluntary agreement between equals (as with David and Jonathan, 1 Sam 18:3) and treaties of loyalty between a great king and a lesser king (his vassal). In the Bible, covenants between God and his people are always of the second type. God always dictates the terms of his covenants, which assert his sovereignty and kingship and the people’s obligation of faith and obedience. (NIV Bible Dictionary)
Covenant – a pledge, an agreement, or compact made between two parties.
2. What was the “old covenant”?
The “old covenant” got it’s start with promises made to Abraham in Genesis 12. These initial promises were 1. land, 2. People, and 3. God’s blessing.
This covenant was amplified in the days of Moses, David, and the prophets, and expanded to include the law (more than just the 10 commandments) and the establishment of the priesthood with its tabernacle and temple sacrifices.
The “Old Covenant” roughly corresponds with God’s dealing with man in the Old Testament scriptures.
Some important aspects of the old covenant:
A. Focused on conformity to the law.
-Keeping the Sabbath holy
-following worship regulations (annual festivals and animal sacrifices for sin)
B. God is wholly separate from humankind.
-only 1 of 12 tribes could be a priest
-only priests on duty could enter the tabernacle
-only 1 priest a day could enter the holy place
-only the High Priest could enter “most holy place” behind the veil, and this only once a year
C. The blood of animals used as a picture of the cost of forgiveness.
Heb. 9:22 (NLT) Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.