The Blood of the New Covenant
“When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.”
Luke 22:14-20 NKJV
If you read here, Jesus handed out the cup first. He had them drink it first and then gave the bread to them saying, “This is My body.” They drank the cup and ate the bread. After supper, He took the cup and said, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.” He said it was the new covenant in His blood. Normally, we talk about the blood and flesh. Here, He gave the cup first and then the bread. Once they had eaten, He took the cup again and told them that it is the new covenant in His blood.
So, this is not a matter of comparing the flesh and blood. It is not about what the flesh is and what the blood is. He said that it is the new covenant that is established in His blood. Therefore, it is a matter of the new covenant and the old covenant. The point is not about what the flesh is and the blood is.
He called it the blood of the new covenant. The new covenant. When the Israelites hear these words, there is something that would come across their mind. Long ago, Moses had said, “This is the blood of the covenant.” Although it was regarding the old covenant in the Old Testament, Moses said it was the blood of the covenant because he did not know that it was the old covenant. But when Jesus came, He said it is the blood of the new covenant.
Let’s look at Exodus 24. Exodus 24:1-8. Let’s do responsive reading.
“Now He said to Moses, “Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from afar. And Moses alone shall come near the Lord, but they shall not come near; nor shall the people go up with him.” So Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the judgments. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which the Lord has said we will do.” And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord. And he rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars according to the twelve tribes of Israel. Then he sent young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord. And Moses took half the blood and put it in basins, and half the blood he sprinkled on the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the Lord has said we will do, and be obedient.” And Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, “This is the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you according to all these words.””
In this way, he declared, “This is the blood of the covenant.” But that declaration was him reading out the words of the covenant, which were God’s commandments. And since the people responded that they would keep those commandments, the covenant was made. And to do that, God said, “I will be your God. I will be with you.” The covenant was established with blood. That was a kind of guarantee. However, the covenant was not kept. God knew that man is simply unable to keep the covenant and spoke of a new covenant He would establish. Finally, Jesus came and established that new covenant.
Thus, He said, “This is My blood. By My blood I have established a covenant.” The old covenant of the past was established through the blood of animals. What does the blood of the animals signify? That they must keep the covenant with all their life, even to the point of bloodshed. This means that on the instance it is not kept, the consequence would be death. But with the old covenant, they could not keep it. It was already obvious back then that men are unable to keep their covenant. So, for a new covenant to be made, the requirements of the old covenant had to be met. Somebody had to shed his blood. Blood had to be shed for a new covenant to be made. That is why Jesus shed His blood in their place, paying the price of their sins and established a new covenant.
Thus, it was not God who abolished the covenant. He did not abolish the old covenant but fulfilled it. By His own blood, He fulfilled the covenant. After that, He established a new covenant. So, we can understand from this that something is higher than the covenant. And that is God’s will. God would even change the covenant in order to fulfil His will. So what is His will? It is for Him to be with us. It is His desire to be with mankind. How strong was His willingness for it – I will be in you, you in Me and thus we will become one – that though we are undeserving, He had His Son shed His blood in order to make it happen.
When we understand this and understand what Jesus did, we will be able to understand God’s heart. This is how much God wants to be one with us. To the point that He made His Son shed His blood, He wants to be with us. And He wants to fulfil His works in us, He wants to entrust us with His work, and He wants us to share heaven with us. He is very strong-willed about it. Nothing in the world can stop Him. Hence, whoever knows about this adamant will of God can be bold. ‘God really does want to be with me. He is willing to give me a chance.’ When we know that, we would not be overcome by the misunderstanding that God does not love us or that He would not accept us, nor would we be despondent because of our moral sins.
Therefore, the one who has a proper understanding of the gospel would, though he is a sinner, endeavor to come before God all the more because he realizes he is a sinner. And since he acknowledges that despite him being a sinner, the Lord wants to be with him by giving grace. Thus, the Lord will be pleased with his faith and be with him. He will also grant the Holy Spirit to him. Even though he will be with God in heaven forever, he first needs to be one with God on earth in order to go to heaven. It is not that God will be with him when he goes to heaven; rather, He will be with him here on earth and then take him to heaven.
So also with Jesus, it is not that He was told, “You rise from the dead, then I will let You in heaven and inherit everything to You.” No. He was resurrected. In the Apostle’s creed, what does it say? That Jesus rose from the dead. And that is where a lot of people get mixed up. When did Jesus rise from the dead? People get confused. People say, “Jesus rose again! Jesus rose again! He is the Son of God. So He has power!” This is heretical. This is anti-Christ. That is denying that Jesus came in the flesh.
Jesus died. Death means you can do nothing. This applies the same to humans and to Him. He came as a man and died. People say that He came as a man but that also He rose from the dead. That means He was not a man. Once dead, man cannot rise from the dead. So He did not rise from the dead, but what happened? The Father raised Him up again. That is the difference. The Father will also raise us up.
He came according to the Father’s will, and in accordance with that Father’s will, He wants to be one with us now. And that is why the Son also cannot comprehend at times. Hence, He said, “Why have You forsaken Me?” That is the Father’s will. The Father truly wants us to be one with God. Thus, even if we make mistakes and fall back, He wants us to get back up and keep moving forward. He does not want us to look back nor shrink back.
What is the most joyful news to sinners? It is this. No matter how terrible a sinner I am, the way for me to live is that I come to God, and He will always receive me. He will never reject me. Only those who have this faith will be saved. So don’t be deceived.
God really desires to be with us, so much that even though the people of Israel betrayed God, He chose to change His covenant to be with them. He is a God who would do all He can to save. He does not reject and forsake just because people’s behavior is slightly off the mark.
Sometimes, we can feel frustrated. We wish some people would be removed from doing God’s work, but God does not. We are also receiving His grace. We can see other people’s faults, but the plank in our own eyes is bigger. So, if God was to kick out and remove people from His work, I would be the first to go, truly. So, let us not misunderstand our God. The more sinful we are, the more we realize what sinners we are. Let us be more determined to go before God. And let us always trust in God’s grace. I bless you in Jesus’ name.
Let’s pray that we will not misunderstand God.
Our Father God, we feel our inadequacies and lack of abilities deeply. Truly, we often lament about ourselves, but Father God, nevertheless, we desire that you, our God, always grant us new opportunities, truly wishing to do better, seeking victory, and desiring happiness according to your will. Help us to know and truly understand You, discarding any misunderstandings about God so that we can move forward only. Please prevent us from stepping back and falling into temptation. Thank you for giving us a new opportunity today. We sincerely confess all our laziness, negligence, and faults. Have pity on us and grant us the power and strength to obey and work as the Lord wants. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Sermon by Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
The Director of Sungrak Mission Center
Sermon on December 13, 2012
Translated by Sungrak Mission Center English Team