Pause: As we prepare to look at God’s Word let us quieten our minds, so that
His Holy Spirit may speak to us today.
Readings: Hebrews 8 : 6 – 13; Psalm 85 : 7 – 13; Mark 3 : 13 – 19
“The days are coming…”
A few weeks ago, in fact on Friday December 18th, I began the Reflection with those four words above, which on that occasion were in our reading from Jeremiah chapter 23. I was quite surprised therefore when I began thinking about today’s Reflection to realise that the same words are in one of the readings set for today, the passage from Hebrews. In the passage in Jeremiah the Lord is promising the Messiah, and of course we know, as I wrote last month, that the promise came true in the Person of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
As Martin mentioned on Monday this letter was written to Messianic Jews, to encourage them in their new-found faith at a time when there was growing opposition. The writer of this letter is continuing the theme of the certainty of God’s promise, as we have been seeing in the Reflections this week, emphasising Christ’s fulfilment of Old Testament prophecies, and His uniqueness as Priest and King, the one true mediator between God and mankind. Yesterday Ian gave us a really helpful chart, contrasting the old Priesthood of the Old Testament and the Priesthood of Jesus, which is, as verse 6 of our reading says, far superior.
Today’s verses from Hebrews 8 focus on the new covenant, brought about by the death and Resurrection of Jesus. So, what is a covenant? A covenant is an agreement or contract which establishes a relationship; it contains the conditions on which the relationship is based, the promises if the covenant is maintained, and the consequences if the covenant is broken. In the Old Testament we see God making several covenants, including those with Noah, Abraham, and Moses. establishing a relationship with His chosen people. Included in these is the law to which the people must adhere; if they do that then God promises to be their God, their shield and protector, to be with them forever. We know that the people were unable or unwilling to adhere to their side of the covenant, but God’s promise to be with them forever remained, as did His promise to establish, at some time in the future, a new covenant. This will not be a re-hash of the old covenant; it really is something totally new.
At the Last Supper, before His arrest and crucifixion, Jesus took a cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” This new covenant promises forgiveness of sins, opening the way to a restoration of our relationship with our loving heavenly Father. No longer is our relationship dependent upon the keeping of the law, although of course accepting Jesus as Lord and Saviour does mean turning away from those things which would break that relationship. We have a God who loves us deeply, so deeply that He was willing to send His beloved Son Jesus to bring into being the new covenant.
In our reading today we see the promises that the Lord makes towards those who are willing to accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour:
“I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
“…they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
Despite the uncertainty that surrounds us in this first month of 2021 we can be totally confident of the never-ending love of our heavenly Father, of the presence of Jesus who promised never to leave us, and of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives to lead us deeper into this relationship with the God who has established this New Covenant with us.
Almighty God, we thank you for your word which is a lamp for our feet and a light on our path. May your Holy Spirit lead us on, that we may daily draw closer to you, our loving heavenly Father, and to Jesus Christ your Son our Saviour. Amen.