Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks, he gave it to them and said, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins (CSB).
I write this post during the week that is called “Holy Week”, specifically, on that day called “Good Friday”. Christians remember the two great events of the gospel or good news: Christ’s death and resurrection. For this reason, I thought we should focus our attention on the cross, thinking especially of the power of the cross.
Perhaps you attended or will attend a special service this weekend where the church gathered around the Lord’s Table. It is interesting to reflect on the fact that as the Lord orders us to remember him, he does not tell us to remember his birth, or his miracles, or his triumphal entry, but his person. At his Table, we proclaim his death until he comes (1 Corinthians 11:26). When we come together at the Table, we preach Christ’s death on the cross three ways.
- The bread and the fruit of the vine represent the Savior’s body and blood.
- Our eating and drinking of the bread and the wine symbolize our union with Christ in his death.
- Our participation in this with one another tells that we share together in what the Lord Christ accomplished on the cross.
So then, let us think on the power of the cross of Christ! To us who are being saved, it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18). How does Christ save us by the cross? At the cross he shed the blood of the covenant; that is, the new or better covenant.
The power of the cross established a new and better covenant.
We need to understanding the covenant idea. A covenant is a solemn agreement binding two parties together. For example, marriage is a covenant that binds a man and a woman together as husband and wife. You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant (Malachi 2:14 NIV).
In order to display his glory as the faithful God, the Lord God chose to make covenants. He binds himself to people as their God, and they to him as his people. It is like a marriage covenant, but between two vastly unequal partners. This also shows God’s glory as humble and loving.
God made a covenant with Israel at Sinai, and the center of that covenant was the Ten Commandments, written on tablets of stone. And he declared to you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, that is, the Ten Commandments, and he wrote them on two tablets of stone (Deuteronomy 4:13). The covenant was kept in a gold box, called the Ark of the Covenant, and it was put into effect by the blood of the covenant (Exodus 24:3-8; cf. Hebrews 9:18-22). But that covenant was built upon the obedience of the people (Exodus 19:3-6; Deuteronomy 6:25; 7:12; 8:19-20; etc.) The problem of that covenant was the sinfulness of the people. The law covenant could not give life or obedience to the sinner (cf. Galatians 3:21-22; Hebrews 8:7-8).
Therefore, God made a new or better covenant. This covenant is Christ himself, God’s Servant Son (Isaiah 42:1, 6-7; 49:3, 8-9). The new or better covenant was put into effect at the cross by the shedding of Jesus’ blood (Hebrews 9:11-15, 23-28).
This is an extremely important teaching. It tells us how we can know the Lord and be his people. We journey through life, not alone, but with the living God. We are in Christ, and he is with us always. We live, not according to the law covenant, but in conformity with Christ. Our entire viewpoint is transformed. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21). So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness (Colossians 2:6-7).
Grace and peace, David