Welcome to Becomning Closer! 


The New Covenant

Luke 22:1 -- 20

Much ink has been used to discuss the concept of a covenant; whole schools of Biblical interpretation have been formed to support one method over another. It is not my purpose in this lesson to give a definitive answer as to who (if anyone) has it right. We shall confine ourselves to that which is needful. Here is Luke’s brief account of the institution of the Last Supper:[1]

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was approaching. The chief priests and the scribes were seeking how they might put Him to death; for they were afraid of the people. And Satan entered into Judas who was called Iscariot, belonging to the number of the twelve. And he went away and discussed with the chief priests and officers how he might betray Him to them. They were glad and agreed to give him money. So he consented, and began seeking a good opportunity to betray Him to them apart from the crowd. Then came the first day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. And Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and prepare the Passover for us, so that we may eat it." They said to Him, "Where do You want us to prepare it?" And He said to them, "When you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house that he enters. "And you shall say to the owner of the house, 'The Teacher says to you, "Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?"' "And he will show you a large, furnished upper room; prepare it there." And they left and found everything just as He had told them; and they prepared the Passover. When the hour had come, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. And He said to them, "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, "Take this and share it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes." And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.

(Luk 22:1-20 NASB)


It is important to note the introduction of the passage. It is not an accident, nor is it a coincidence. It is the providence of Almighty God.

There is a curious parallel to this section. Saul has an experience as foretold by Samuel.[2] It is God’s way of telling Saul that he is indeed king; that Samuel is not just some crazy old man but the man of God. Thus convinced, Saul proceeds to take the kingship in hand.

God works like that. Here, the details of “finding” the upper room are laid out in advance, so that the disciples will know that the small things are in God’s control. They will need this; the next few days will be a horror to them.

It is a curious thing: many Christians will acknowledge God’s control over the large developments of history, but not the small things. But His eye is still on the sparrow; even in the ordinary things of life we detect his hand. Now sheltering, now disciplining, He is always there. If he controls the great, is he so limited that he cannot control the small?

The Passover as image

One way in which we see the providence of God is in this: he provides for us pictures – images – of that which is to come. The Passover itself is such an image. We see the sacrificial lamb – which was to be without defect. This is the image of the coming Christ, the sinless sacrifice. Those who accept that sacrifice – by painting blood on the lintels – are passed over by the angel of death. It foreshadows how the blood of Christ is our security against the angel of death; we are to live eternally.

Consider well the prophecy in the Bible. Is it not the case that, having seen the fulfillment in part at the first coming of Christ, that the rest will be fulfilled at his return?

Concept of Covenant

Christ here institutes a new covenant. The word is a “church word” for the most part; at one time it had a legal meaning as well. That usage has died out (it was used to restrict the future sale of homes by race), so we are left with the Biblical meaning.

First, rid your mind of the notion that a covenant is the same thing as a contract. It is not, though the word is often used for agreements between men. A contract is between equals (in theory). A contract requires the exchange of valuables; what valuable do you have that would place the Almighty in obligation to you?

Rather, it is a “take it or leave it” offer from Almighty God to us. There are four common elements which we will take as instructional:

  • Covenants carry with them some form of sign. For example, the state offers you license plates for you car – on the state’s terms, take it or leave it. When you take up their offer, you put the sign of that on your car in the form of the plates. What would otherwise remain unseen is now proclaimed.
  • God’s covenants (we shall look at historical examples) deal with the problem of sin and guilt. That’s because He loves us – but sin stands between us and our heavenly Father.
  • His covenants carry with them a present blessing. God knows we would “leave it” if there were only blessings in heaven. Therefore he provides us with blessings in this life.
  • His covenants also deal with the future. They look forward to a time when they will end, and a greater covenant will be made.

Let’s look at some examples:

  • Sign: One of the most common of images in Christian children’s literature is a picture of Noah’s Ark. You usually see it on the waves or the mountain top, and often you see with it a rainbow. That’s the sign God gave to Noah in his covenant: the rainbow.
  • Sin: As Bill Cosby might have put it, He “drowned it right out.” It is a simple method; get rid of the sin by getting rid of the sinners.
  • Present blessing: Noah and his family were saved by being in the Ark.
  • Future blessing: no more floods like that one.
  • Sign: God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, Sarai’s name to Sarah. Beyond that, God ordered that circumcision be implemented. (The implications of that are rather lengthy; we will slide over them.)
  • Sin: God tells Abraham to make a sacrifice – of his own son. It shows that Abraham truly keeps God first. It also sets the groundwork for Moses and the Levitical system of sacrifices.
  • Present blessing: At an age of 99, Abraham gets to worry about whether or not Medicare covers pregnancy – for Sarah gives birth to a son, Isaac.
  • Future blessing: God tells Abraham that his descendants will be incredibly numerous and that one of them (the Messiah) will bless all the nations of the earth.
  • Sign: The various feasts of the Levitical law, especially the feast of the Passover.
  • Sin: the system of sacrifices for sin and atonement.
  • Present blessing: God will call them his own people, take them out of slavery and by his mighty hand give them the inheritance of the land promised to Abraham.
  • Future blessing: the covenant would be kept forever – IF the Jews would be obedient.

The New Covenant

We may now understand a little more clearly what Christ did at the Last Supper. He proclaimed the covenant under which we live – the covenant of the church age.


The sign of this covenant is given here: the Lord’s Supper. Like the others, it is a simple thing. It has two elements:

  • Bread – usually unleavened – symbolizes the body of Christ. In the early days of the church it was a common loaf; anyone could see that it fed the body of Christ on earth – His church.
  • Wine – in those days, white wine was rather difficult to produce. Most wine was red – the color of blood, which it symbolizes.

You confirm your acceptance of the covenant when you take communion; you also proclaim to all who might be watching that you are a Christian. It is a sign for you; it is a sign for the world.


Of all things most powerful, the sacrifice of our Lord on Calvary is the greatest. You can see its image in the Passover: the spotless, unblemished lamb slaughtered, portraying the Lamb of God to come.

It is the atonement, though, that makes this covenant unique. The covenant with Noah destroyed sin by water; Abraham appeased God with animal sacrifices; Moses brought forth God’s law in detail for those sacrifices – but this sacrifice actually atones for sin, cleansing us from it.

What makes this all the more powerful is this: Christ died for us willingly. His life was not taken; he gave it up.

Present blessings

Christians are often accused of thinking of “pie in the sky” as our blessings in return for a dull life here. It is not so.

  • We have within our souls the Holy Spirit. As the work of our days becomes more complex, the Holy Spirit guides us in the simple truth.
  • We have the power of prayer. No longer do we need a priest to mediate between us and the Father; the door is open. The light is on.
  • Indeed, on this earth we have the church, designed by Christ and bought with his blood, which is both comfort and guide.
Future blessing

Compare these blessings to those of the older covenants:

  • At the return of our Lord we will see the resurrection of the dead. Those in the ground will return and walk again.
  • When he returns, he will bring justice with him. Rewards for the faithful; final justice for the wicked.
  • Perhaps greatest of all is this: no more death. No more sin, no more death.

We are indeed the recipients of the greatest of covenants.

What should I do?

  • Take the Lord’s Supper every week – openly, with honesty, examining yourself, knowing exactly what you are proclaiming to the world.
  • Accept the blessings of forgiveness – by admitting that you need it.
  • Ask, seek and knock – so that the Father will be pleased to provide for you in all things.
  • Finally, watch! You do not know the hour of his coming.

[1] A series of other views are available on the web site. Go to the search page and search for “Last Supper.”

[2] 1 Samuel 10:1-7

Previous     Home     Next