You Have A New Covenant
This is my blankie. As you can see, it has seen lots of loving throughout the years. It served its purpose. And then it was set aside. But I have to tell you that when it was time to set it aside, I was not happy about it. And my mom asked and even begged me to let her throw it away. I couldn’t let it go. So, even though I’ve thrown many things away over the many years we have moved, I keep moving my blankie with me. It’s hard to let go, isn’t it? That’s the situation and context we find ourselves in as we begin to work through these words in Hebrews 8. We read: “But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises.” (Hebrews 8:6 NIV11-GKE)
The new covenant was better. But the Jewish people that God’s word is speaking to this evening didn’t want to set the old covenant aside. They had had this covenant for about 1400 years. And it was hard to let it go. So notice what the writer to the Hebrews does. He lets them know that hundreds of years before Jesus was born God’s word, in the book of Jeremiah, already let them know that the old covenant and the laws in it were “flawed.”1 He writes: “7 For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8 But God found fault with the people and said: “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. 9 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.” (Hebrews 8:7–9 NIV11-GKE)
About 1400 B.C. the Lord met with the Hebrew people at Mt. Sinai. And he made an agreement with them. No, it was even more official than that. He made a covenant with them. It was a two-sided covenant. He would be their God if and only if they would be his people. He kept up his part of the agreement. But they did not keep up theirs. Even though he “took them by the hand” to lead them out of Egypt, they rejected him. This old, two-sided was flawed because the people were flawed. They could not keep the promises they made. So the Old Covenant served two purposes: First, it showed them their sin. For they could not keep the promises they made. Second, it connected them to the Savior and Sacrifice that would come later on. It served its purpose. And when Jesus came, it was set aside.
But my dear friends, what happens when, like me with my blankie, we don’t want to set the old aside? Then a tendency can turn into the temptation to sin. When I was growing up dad had a chair. It was old and vinyl and orange. It had a handle that didn’t work right. You would pull on the handle and it either would not go back at all or it would fly back. It had a seat that was all worn out enough to have the thick springs poking through. Dad “repaired” it with duct tape. But eventually that made it worse because not only would your back side get poked by the exposed spring but your back side was stuck to the seat. But the chair was not thrown away because it was easier and more comfortable to keep the old than get the new.
That is our temptation today. We have the new covenant. The old has given way to Jesus and the new covenant. But there is this tug on us to forget the benefits and blessings of the new. Tonight ask yourself one simple question: If my friend or coworker asked me what benefit or blessing there is in the Lord’s Supper, what would you say to that person? If you have to think hard about an answer, doesn’t that show the real and true fact that there are these blessings in the new covenant in the Lord’s Supper. But we sin by forgetting them.
But the situation gets worse. If we forget the benefits and blessings we have in the Lord’s Supper—in this new covenant, then it’s ever-so-easy to be led away, back to the old covenant, by churches that deny the blessings that are there in the new covenant. When we were in PA, there was a small country church that would pull out all the stops for Maundy Thursday. They would put on an elaborate Tableau. They would dress up thirteen men and station them around a big table to recreate the mood and feel of the Lord’s Supper. They would put on elaborate recreations of the passover to get back to our Hebrew roots. And theologically speaking, they had to. There’s the old saying, “nature abhors a vacuum.” When you deny the benefits and blessings that Jesus gives to us in this new covenant in the Lord’s Supper, all you have left is a need to cling to the old—like me clinging onto a blanket that was worn out and ready to be set aside.
You have the new covenant. Jesus says, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” (Mark 14:24 NIV11-GKE) Well if we have the new covenant here this evening the Lord’s Supper, wouldn’t it be good to talk about the benefits and blessings that are there for us in the Lord’s Supper? The writer to the Hebrews tells us what blessings this new covenant gives to us: “10 This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 11 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. 12 For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”” (Hebrews 8:10–12 NIV11-GKE)
What benefit and blessing does the new covenant give to us? First, it forges a family with the Triune God. In the Lord’s Supper we get to use some precious pronouns. God calls us “his” people. We get to call him “our” God. And not only do we get to use these precious pronouns, we are treated like family. When there are special occasions family gets together and feasts. That’s what is going on in the Lord’s Supper. We are feasting with our Triune God, proving we are part of his family. And feasting doesn’t stop here. For Jesus gives us this promise: “Truly I tell you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”” (Mark 14:25 CSB17) We get to have the perfect version of this feast finally in heaven.
So the first blessing we receive in the Lord’s Supper is that through it God forges a family with us. But the second blessing is just as important. The second blessing is forgiveness. Notice what God’s word says here. In this new covenant God forgives our wickedness. In this new covenant he remembers our sin no more. This too is what the Lord’s Supper delivers to us. Jesus wins forgiveness there on the cross and then delivers it to us here in the Lord’s Supper. And that’s exactly what we need. We need forgiveness for the times we have forgotten the very blessings he promises to give to us in the Lord’s Supper. We need forgiveness for the times we have looked over the fence at other churches, envying what they do on Maundy Thursday nights—all the while forgetting that the reason they have fancy tableaus and Seder meals is that, long ago, they denied the blessings that you receive every month in the Lord’s Supper. Those sins, those acts of wickedness are forgiven here in Jesus’ body and blood given to you in the Lord’s Supper.
So where does that leave us this evening? The writer to the Hebrews concludes with these words: “By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.” (Hebrews 8:13 NIV11-GKE)
You have the new covenant. So it’s ok to let the old go. We are thankful for those Old Testament laws and ceremonies. They showed the Old Testament believers their sins. They connected them to the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. But they disappeared. Let us then cling and hold onto the covenant we have. The Lord’s Supper forges a family between us and God. The Lord’s Supper delivers forgiveness. Amen.
1 “ⲁⲙⲉⲙⲡⲧⲟⲥ” (Hebrews 8:7 GNT-ALEX)