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A New Covenant of Confidence

A New Covenant of Confidence

When the hour came, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him... When He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body, which is being given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you, is the new covenant in My blood.” — Luke 22:14, Luke 22:19-20

Considering that we have an all-knowing, all-powerful, always-present God as our Deliverer — One who is both able and to help us in any situation — why is it that we worry? Why would we do so? Ultimately, our problem finds its root in that we not only forget who we are but — even worse — we fail to remember who God is. We neglect to consider who we are in Him and what He has promised to us.

Because such forgetfulness is human nature, right before He went to the cross, Jesus had one last supper with the disciples. Christ realized that when His followers saw Him beaten, suspended on a cross, and buried in the tomb, they would be overcome with fear. So He took one more opportunity before His crucifixion to teach what He was going to accomplish for us all. During that historic meal, He gave them a visual illustration of what He was doing for them — so that whenever they would break bread, which was a daily occurrence, they would remember the salvation He provided. He knew they would need such a reminder in the days ahead. And that we would too.

In Luke 22:14-20, we read that Jesus met with His disciples in the upper room, and He said,

I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. — Luke 22:15

Even though He had taught them about His path to the cross on several occasions (Matthew 12:40; Matthew 16:21; Matthew 17:22-23; Matthew 20:18-19), they didn’t know what He was talking about. What they did know was that the Passover commemorated the deliverance of Israel from Egypt. When the Hebrew people were hopelessly enslaved by the Egyptians, God had saved them in a miraculous manner — sending Moses to lead them and ten devastating plagues to set them free of Pharaoh’s grasp. During the final plague, God said,

I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and fatally strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the human firstborn to animals; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments — I am the Lord. — Exodus 12:12

However, to ensure that the people of Israel would remain safe, He said,

They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses... The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will come upon you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. — Exodus 12:7, Exodus 12:13

They remembered how the Lord liberated them through the blood of the lambs on their doorposts.

  • The Passover became a reminder of God’s protection and deliverance

— how the Lord liberated them through the blood of the lambs on their doorposts. But then, centuries later, Jesus took a cup and said,

This cup, which is poured out for you, is the new covenant in My blood. — Luke 22:20

Jesus’ blood? New covenant? The disciples knew about the old covenant, which God established after He freed the Israelites from Egypt by giving them the law of Moses (Exodus 19:5-24:7). But what of this new covenant? And what did it have to do with Jesus’ blood?

For us today, it might help us to understand how two people would enter a covenant relationship in Jesus’ day. It was a very serious commitment. The two parties would meet and exchange cloaks, which was their way of saying, “All that I have now belongs to you. What I own, you now own; and what you own, I now own. We are one.” Then they would exchange weapons. In this way they were saying, “My strength is yours and your strength is mine. This is my commitment to you that if you need protection, I am available.” Then they would cut their wrists and join them at the cut so their blood would intermingle, thus becoming one in their covenant relationship. Their scars served notice on would-be aggressors that they each had a “blood brother” who would come to their defense. Also, they adopted a part of each other’s names.

Then, the covenant would be ratified by cutting an animal in half and separating it. The two parties would make a figure eight through and around the two parts. As they did this, they would make their oath or covenant, pledging their faithfulness and their support of each other. The two parties would decide what blessings and curses would come on the other as a result of keeping or failing to observe the covenant. Then they would pile stones together and at times would inscribe the conditions of the covenant on one of the stones — all to serve as a reminder of their pledge to each other.

Finally, the two would eat a simple meal together: a piece of bread that they would exchange. In this way they would be saying, “Here is what I am, and as you eat this, I am coming into you; I am becoming a part of you.” They would exchange their cups of wine, again signifying that they would exchange their lives for each other; and thus, in all of this, demonstrating that whatever affects one affects the other. When one has need, the other responds. When one is under fire, the other is responsible to come to his or her defense. It was a binding blood covenant, joining the two parties in a relationship that would last for a lifetime.

This was the commitment Jesus was making with us as He sat with the disciples at the Last Supper. Luke 22:19-20 tells us,

When He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body, which is being given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup, which is poured out for you, is the new covenant in My blood.’

  • Notice Jesus didn’t say, “our blood” or “your blood.” He said, “My blood.”

This is significant because the sacrificial system given through the law of Moses was only provisional and imperfect; it couldn’t save us. It was a temporary measure to atone for — or cover over — our sins until the Lord could implement His great plan. We could not give anything — not the blood of animal sacrifices or even our own blood — to make ourselves right with the Lord. But now, almighty God was ready to enter into a new covenant relationship with all mankind. And because it was wholly based on Jesus’ body and blood, He was taking the full responsibility for the fulfillment of the new relationship. Our responsibility would be to accept it and live in gratefulness for what He has done for us.

This is what the Lord meant when He said this through the prophet Jeremiah:

Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers on the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke... For this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord: “I will put My law within them and write it on their heart; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. They will not teach again, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their wrongdoing, and their sin I will no longer remember. — Jeremiah 31:31-34, emphasis added

Notice the many times God says He will provide the new covenant for us. We could not pay the price of this new relationship, so Jesus paid it for us with His blood. Just as the lambs’ blood on the door- posts protected and delivered Israel from Egypt, Jesus’ blood — the blood of the Lamb of God — would save us from our sins.

And just like the covenants of His day, Jesus is saying to us, “All that I have now belongs to you. What I own, you now own.” Or as He promises in Philippians 4:19,

My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Christ is also saying, “My strength is yours. This is My commitment to you that when you need protection, I am available.” Or as He assures in Isaiah 41:10,

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will also help you, I will also uphold you with My righteous right hand.

This new relationship with God you and I have is an eternity-long commitment He has made to us — irrevocable, unchanging, everlasting, and unalterable. We have become a part of His family forever, and He is committed to being our peace, our provision, our protection, and our Guide.

  • When you have Christ, you have everything. So why should we ever worry?

Certainly, there is no good reason. As Psalm 118:5-7 NLT says,

In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me? Yes, the Lord is for me; He will help me.

Friend, don’t forget who you are and what Jesus has done for you. The God of this universe cares about you and will help you.

Therefore let’s approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace for help at the time of our need. — Hebrews 4:16

The next time you sit to eat a piece of bread, remember His body was given for you. And the next time you take up a cup, think about Jesus’ blood, which provides for your salvation and protection. Do it in remembrance of Him, and take heart that He will never let you down.

Excerpted with permission from The Gift of the Cross by Charles Stanley, copyright Charles F. Stanley.

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Your Turn

Jesus' commitment to us is lasting, it's forever, it will never ever end! He means it when He says He loves us. He loves us to death! Remember He will never let you down! Come share your thoughts with us. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily