Andrew Fountain - The New Covenant Meal

Sermon notes - The New Covenant Meal

  • The passage talks about a covenant (19 times in Hebrews)

Hebrews 8:6–9

  1. But now Jesus has obtained a superior ministry, since the covenant of which he is mediator is also better and is enacted on better promises.
  2. For if that first covenant had been faultless, no one would have looked for a second one.
  3. But showing its fault, God says to them, “Look, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will complete a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.
  4. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their fathers, on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not continue in my covenant and I had no regard for them” says the Lord.
  • The Bible talks about covenants
    • In the last century, archeology has helped us immensely as we have discovered covenants from the surrounding culture contemporary with the Old Testament.
    • Here is a Hittite treaty covenant on a clay tablet

Hittite treaty of Kadesh

Hittite treaty of Kadesh

Image source: wikimedia

  • What is a covenant?
    • Can someone tell me how it differs from a contract?
    • personal relationship/bold, forever (unless broken), to break often meant death
    • sometimes one-sided
  • My definition:

“A forever relationship with serious commitments”

Some Covenants in the Bible

  • Noah - Genesis 6
  • Abraham - Genesis 15,17
  • Nation of Israel - Exodus 6, 19, 24f
  • King David (promise of Jesus)
  • The New Covenant Jer 31:31, Luke 22, Hebrews etc.

Common elements of a Covenant:

  1. Commitments made by one or both sides
  2. Event (either real or symbolic)
  3. Meal together
  4. Way of remembering
  5. Some of the future promise now (deposit)
  • Noah
    1. Some basic laws / never flood earth again
    2. saved from flood
    3. -
    4. Rainbow
    5. -
  • Abraham
    1. will make you a great nation & land
    2. passing beteen animals
    3. Some suggest: later appearance of God in human form, who ate (Gen 18)
    4. Circumcision
    5. Son, burial plot
  • Israel
    1. O.T. Law / promised land
    2. freed from slavery
    3. First Passover meal + amazing story of Exodus 24
    4. Passover
    5. Sabbath rest, mana
  • New
    1. Faith / new life and inheritance
    2. the cross & resurrection
    3. Last supper
    4. Breaking bread
    5. Spirit (seal)
  • This morning we are going to break bread together

Luke 22

  1. And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
  2. In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”

Cultural Background

  • Eating together = public display of friendship/unity
  • Explorer in west Asian desert captured by Arab nomads
  • Paul talks about the problem of eating temple food
  • 1 Cor 10:21 “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.”
  • He said: If you don’t know where it’s come from, don’t ask!
  • story of being captured in the desert. With a flash of inspiration, he pulled out a chocolate bar and gave half to the chief, who took a bite.
    • He ate his half and said “we have shared a meal—now we are friends”

O.T. Background: Exodus 12:

  1. “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.

O.T. Background: Exodus 24:

  1. Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up,
  2. and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness.
  3. And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.
  • Feast in memory of freedom (remembering is behind what we are about to do)
  • Jesus frequently ate with members of society who were despised, and regarded as unclean.
    • We can see the significance attached to sharing a meal by the reaction of his critics,
    1. As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax booth. “Follow me,” he said to him. And he got up and followed him.
    2. As Jesus was having a meal in Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with Jesus and his disciples.
    3. When the Pharisees saw this they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Mat 9:9–11
  • So, to summarize, the cultural meaning is much stronger than in our culture
    • Powerful idea of expressing unity by eating together
    • Jesus is thought of as being here and part of the unity

1 Corinthians 11:23–26

  1. For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread,
  2. and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
  3. In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
  4. For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
  • So what does it mean to “remember”?
    • Simply not to forget?
  • so why do I not call it “Communion”, or “The Lord’s Supper”, or “The Eurachist”
    • Simply because this is the name the Bible calls it
  • So why have people changed the name?
    • because they have changed the event from what Jesus gave us (another time)

Why do we do it?

  1. Look backwards as we remember Jesus’s death
  2. Proclaim what he has done as a witness to others
  3. Demonstrate our unity in Christ
  4. Come to Jesus as a priest who forgives our sins
  5. Obtain a blessing as by faith we receive the benefits of Christ’s death
  6. Picture of depending on Jesus for sustenance
  7. Look forwards to feasting with Christ in glory
  • Not magical / automatic blessing
  • But not merely a symbol
  • If you participate with belief and trust, then you are promised that you will receive a blessing

The Messiah will bring a new feast

Isaiah 25:6

  1. On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
  • Does it matter if it is alcoholic? —of course not! (Sri-Lanka: Coke)
  • Food samples in a store. This is a taster!
  • Jesus turned water (ceremonial washing) into wine
    • Are you stuck in the washing?

Who is it for?

  • Everyone who is part of the body, and not living in disunity
  • If you have an issue with someone else here, sort it out first!
  • If you have some kind of rebellious behaviour towards God, (=disunity) repent first!
  • explain the difference between sin and rebellion
  • If you are feeling very guilty for your sinfulness
    • You are in exactly the right place!
  • If you are not a Christian, then you need to decide
    • To eat is a statement that you want to follow him
  • What about children?
    • They would have been part of the feast

Summary—Why we do it:

  1. Look backwards as we remember Jesus’s death
  2. Proclaim what he has done as a witness to others
  3. Demonstrate our unity in Christ
  4. Come to Jesus as a priest who forgives our sins
  5. Obtain a blessing as by faith we receive the benefits of Christ’s death
  6. Picture of depending on Jesus for sustenance
  7. Look forwards to feasting with Christ in glory
  • If you are not sure if it means this to you, and want it to:
    • Go through these seven steps right now
  • What this means for you now:
    • You are symbolically saying yes to participating in the relationship, with all it entails

Updated on 2017-02-21 by Andrew Fountain