Welcome back to part three of our series looking at the amazing blessing of communion. In part one, we began by examining the personal aspect of the body and blood of Christ. How communion is not merely a corporate ritual, but a personal gift representing our individual union with Jesus Christ.
We also began to see how the body and blood of Christ each represent a distinct gift which Jesus has made available to us through His sacrifice.
Then in part two, we saw what it means to judge ourselves rightly in Christ as we receive and partake of His sacrifice for us. And how the rightly judging ourselves in Christ is a fantastic blessing in Him.
Now today in part three we are going to be examining the cup, which Jesus says represents the New Covenant in His blood. As we look at the cup of the new covenant today, we will see even more aspects of the amazing blessing of communion.
Which Cup Are You Drinking From?
There are two different cups which we can drink from mentioned in scripture: the first is the cup of God’s wrath, first mentioned in Jeremiah 25:15. This is the cup that Jesus mentioned in the Garden of Gethsemane in Matthew 26:39, and it is the cup He ultimately drank on the cross for all who believe in Him.
The second cup that we can drink from is the cup of the New Covenant, also known as the cup of blessing in 1st Corinthians 10:16. The cup of the New Covenant is the second part of communion, and it is what we will be taking a look at today.
Each and every one of us will drink from either the cup of wrath or the cup of blessing. So let’s take a look at what the cup of blessing actually is, and what it means to drink from it.
The New Covenant, Where Blessings Happen
In 1st Corinthians 11:25, Jesus is quoted as saying:
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do you, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
There’s something about this cup that He wants us to know and understand. The cup, is the New Covenant in His blood. What exactly does that mean for us? To understand this, we need to understand what the New Covenant actually is, and how it is different from the Old Covenant.
By its very title “New Covenant”, we know that it is different than what has existed before. The active power of the blood of Jesus, has caused things to change – and we should know what those things are. We should be aware of what we have entered into. For this, let’s take a journey over to Hebrews 8:6-13:
“But now has he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.
For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
For finding fault with them, he said, Behold, the days come, said the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:
Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, said the Lord.
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, said the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
In that he said, A new covenant, he has made the first old. Now that which decays and waxes old is ready to vanish away.”
A More Excellent Ministry
The first thing here for us to see is that in verse 6, Jesus has obtained a more excellent ministry. His ministry is vastly superior to that of the ministry of the law of Moses. Jesus Christ is a vastly superior High Priest, and offered the perfect sacrifice of Himself for the sin of the entire world, past, present and future.
We also see from verse 6 that He is the mediator of a better covenant which was established on better promises. This is an area that many believers still do not grasp or understand. Many believers still have this idea that the covenants can be intermingled, or that there is somehow a benefit to mixing both Law and Grace… to have some of Moses and some of Jesus – and by thinking that, they completely miss the point of what this verse is saying. It is a sad state of Christianity when believers fail to realize that Jesus has done a complete work that does not need to be added to; it is quite pitiful when I see that believers do not recognize that Christ has made them complete in Himself, but they fail to receive that truth and instead try to complete themselves by adding to Christ with other things; things of much lesser value than Christ!
Yet what we see in this verse is that Christ is the mediator of a better covenant. I have spoken with many professing Christians who still think that the Law and Christ hold equal place with one another. They forget that Peter was rebuked by the Father with a thundering voice from Heaven for trying to put Jesus on an equal level with the Law and the prophets in Matthew 17:4-6. It is a dangerous thing to lower Jesus to the same level as the Law. The covenant that Jesus mediates is better than the Law, because the Law cannot save us, the law cannot justify us, and the law cannot make us holy (Galatians 2:16, Romans 3:30). This is actually quite a large area of stumbling for believers today. Many of us are trying to do some kind of spiritual balancing act between Mt. Sinai and Mt. Zion. We are trying to mix elements of two different covenants, not realizing how grievous an error that is. Jesus says in Matthew 9:16-17 that you cannot put a new patch of cloth onto an old garment, or they will tear worse than before. You also cannot put new wine into old wineskins or the wine will ferment and both will be lost. Yet we have many believers trying to do exactly that!
Every day I encounter people who are trying to reintroduce, reinforce or otherwise insert the Law of Moses into their lives under the New Covenant, and it simply cannot be done. They are very creative in their attempts, but the result is always the same – exactly as Jesus said, it ends up spoiling their faith in Christ, it ends up tearing their righteousness apart and ruining their joy.
Jesus is the mediator of a better covenant, because He is able to do what the law was never designed to do. The Law was given so that the offense might abound (Romans 5:20). Remember what happened way back in Exodus 19:8, all of the people boasted together with one voice saying “all that the Lord has spoken we will do” – which in the original Hebrew text is a very prideful statement. They boasted in their own ability, strength and power to obey God… and so God gave them 10 commandments, not to justify them, not to make them holy or righteous, but to show them that they need a Savior. This is the exact same reason why Jesus asks the Samaritan woman at the well to give Him a drink in John 4:7 (which she never did)… His reason for asking her was to reveal to her that she actually had nothing to give Him – He was the source of living water!
As Galatians 3:24-25 so eloquently states: the Law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, it shows us that we need a savior; but after that faith [in Christ] has come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
We cannot live a victorious life in Christ with one foot on Mt. Sinai and the other foot on Mt. Zion. Yet that is what many believers are trying to do today. And as I said, people are very creative in coming up with new ways to try and argue in favor of the Law, but none of them hold up in the light of the finished work of Christ found in the scriptures. As we continue with our main text of Hebrews 8 what we also see from verse 6, is that this new and better covenant mediated by Jesus Christ, also contains better promises.
Better Promises in Christ
Now I want to specifically draw your attention to this phrase “better promises” because a lot of believers go astray right here, because they don’t know what the promises of God are, or why the promises in the New Covenant are better.
One of the best promises is found in verse 12:
“For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.”
Take some time and meditate on this, my friend. He will be merciful to our unrighteousness, and our sins and iniquities He will remember no more. Here we see one of these better promises for us in this New Covenant. God has promised to no longer remember our sins or our iniquities – and many believers don’t even believe this! If God has promised that He will not remember your sin, why do you still live in fear of punishment? If God is not remembering your sin, why do you still remember it and beat yourself up about it? This verse here is one of the vital elements of the New Covenant; you are to have faith in Christ alone, and you cannot add to or take away from this glorious covenant of faith in Christ (Galatians 3:15). This isn’t about your works, but about Christ’s finished work for you.
Drink the Cup of the New Covenant
When you receive the cup today, and you hold it in your hands, you are holding a representation of the blood of Christ that makes everything we’ve seen today possible. The New Covenant is far more than simply reserving a room in hotel heaven. Not that Heaven isn’t extremely important, but by relegating everything into the future, we miss the very real benefits and promises available for us today.
So as you drink the cup today, see the guilt and shame of sin being brushed off of you, because Jesus’ blood washed you clean! He doesn’t remember your sin anymore, so neither should you!
I encourage you this week to think about these truths and the reality of your new position in Christ and in His New Covenant.
And I look forward to seeing you again next week, as we conclude our series on the amazing blessing of communion, as we fit all the pieces together, and see a very clear picture of what Jesus has done.