What is the New Covenant?

1354509_52789131On Sunday we looked at the language of priests and covenants in Hebrews. We began by noticing something interesting: that to be a priest in the Mosaic covenant you had to come from the line of Levi. But Jesus wasn’t born into the tribe of Levi, but the tribe of Judah. Deuteronomy 18:22 makes it clear that in that covenant priests must come from the line of Levi. So what does all this bloodline talk mean? (This is all worked out in Hebrews 7, and 8)

Well what it means is that with the shift in bloodlines is also a shift in covenant. Jesus isn’t a priest in the covenant, discussed in Deuteronomy; he has instituted a new covenant. And this shift makes all the difference.

In the Old Covenant, sin continued, and sacrifices needed to continually be offered. The cycle of sin, guilt, sacrifice didn’t ever stop. But with a new covenant a new way of living became possible. This new covenant was prophesied in the Hebrews Bible in Jeremiah 31, and is quoted in Hebrews 8, and comes to reality in the person of Jesus.

Jesus is the new high priest, in a new covenant, that functions differently.

And this “functioning differently” is key.

Because with Jesus there is one sacrifice that covers all our sin. That was offered once and for all. That means that all the failings, falterings, and sin that you and I have committed, can commit, or will commit is covered. Jesus’ sacrifice is greater than your sin, my sin, and the sin of the whole world. So we no longer need to have that cycle of sin, to carry guilt, or to carry any shame.

As Hebrews 10:1-2 says “The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship.  If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshippers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared.

But now we have a perfect sacrifice that can cover all our sin and our feelings of guilt. We can live differently because we have been made different.

And this is why that matters.

Because now, “we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19-22)

So you can boldly go to God without feelings of guilt, shame, or trying to earn his approval with your behavior or sacrifices. We can go boldly to God because of what Jesus Christ has done. And this is good news.

So we ended with the challenge that if we have this high priest, this covenant, and this all-encompassing sacrifice to go boldly into God’s presence this week. Because we can, not because of what we have done, but what Jesus has done.

 

 

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: We have a new high priest, covenant, and way to live.

Teaching Points:

  • A covenant is a binding agreement and relationship between two parties.
  • The priests were the representatives of the people and themselves with God dealing with the problem of sin.
  • Jesus isn’t a priest in the Mosaic Covenant sense.
  • For the law made nothing perfect.
  • Jesus is a new high priest, in a new covenant, in the line of Melchizedek.
  • We can go boldly into God’s presence.

Adult Discussion Questions:

What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new?

Was this discussion of Old and New Covenant’s – new to you? How does this new covenant give you new hope? Read the passage from Hebrews 10:19-25. What stands out to you most? What gives you the most excitement? Are there any areas of you life where you are living under the “old covenant”? Are there any lingering feelings of guilt or shame that you should ask Jesus to free you from? How can you boldly go into God’s presence this week?

Discussion Question for Families:

Instead of talking to your kids about today’s topic – why not experience it a bit. Have your kids paint, or write some things they struggle with on a piece of paper. Then take some paint and paint over their struggles with all sorts of colors and make a beautiful picture. Talk to them about how Jesus covers over our sins, so that we can be made beautiful to God and how he loves to do that for us.

Challenge for the Week: Go boldly into God’s presence this week.

New Language: Priests, Sacrifices, and Covenants

1271462_95663567On Sunday I want to talk a little bit about something that seems kind of not relevant to our lives but really is. I want to talk about priests, sacrifices, covenants, and bloodlines.

In all honesty, many times when we come across these themes in the Bible we see them as out-of-date, old fashioned, sometimes maybe barbaric even. But the truth is when we peel back some of the language, context, and understanding they can become beautiful and freeing.

Because even though today we don’t offer animal sacrifices that were offered in the Hebrew Bible, we still are caught up in some of the same cycles. We struggle with cycles of sin and seeking atonement or forgiveness. We might not use sacrifices of animals to find peace or atonement but we do use other sacrifices: prayer, confession, trying harder, making promises, and all sorts of things. But often these sacrifices still leave us locked in a cycle we can’t break out of: fail and sin, feel shame, guilt, confess and sacrifice somehow, and repeat.

We might not regularly sacrifice animals to find forgiveness but it is something we need. We need a new way to live, not stuck in cycles of sin, self-righteousness, or shame. And that’s what we are looking at on Sunday. And it won’t come as a surprise how we find that freedom and forgiveness: it’s in Jesus.

So that’s where we’re headed but before we get there, why not do a bit of reading and prepping on your own. Read Hebrews 8, 9, and 10: that’s where we will be really focusing on Sunday. And then why not spend some time thinking if there are any cycles you need freedom from. Is there a sense of guilt that lingers, a sin that keeps creeping in, or a hurt that lasts? And if so, come Sunday we are going to find how Jesus changes all of that.