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Communion as Covenant

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Looking at communion as an act of covenant

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Communion table.

You will have noticed that the table is laid with bread and wine for communion.
But what does it mean.
I suggest that if we were to ask around the room each of us would have a different focus on communion. each of us would hold it in different levels of specialness or esteem.
Communion - and act of Community
Communion - a confirmation of Commitment
Communion - a service of Commemoration
Communion - a time of celebration
Those of us that come to the mid-week group have been looking at this topic in the group and it has been an interesting journey.
Over the next few months as we take communion we are going to explore each of these themes.
Communion - Covenant is highlighted
Communion - and act of Community
Communion - a confirmation of Commitment
Communion - a service of Commemoration
Communion - a time of celebration
This week I we are going to start with communion as covenant - looking at the communion as a promise.

God is famous for his promises.

A promise is a word that goes forth into unfilled time. It reaches ahead of its speaker and its recipient, to mark an appointment between them in the future.

There are over 3000 promises of God in this book.
The promises of God reveal his particular and eternal purposes to which he is unchangeably committed and upon which believers can totally depend.

He is absolutely trustworthy See also ;
He is unchanging ; ;
He has the power and will to fulfil his promises See also
He is faithful in keeping all his promises ; ; ; ;
His promises stem from his goodness and glory
In the OT many of His promises s are, however, conditional upon obedience on the part of believers.
promises to… Raise some promises
We know God keeps his promises but how does god show that he intends to keep this promises

Vows, contracts and public declarations

Marriage vow.
Court oath
Contracts for work
God’ s promises were made with a public announcement, demonstation or covenant action
Hoad, J. W. L. (1996). Promise. In D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, & D. J. Wiseman (Eds.), New Bible dictionary (3rd ed., p. 963). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Hoad, J. W. L. (1996). Promise. In D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, & D. J. Wiseman (Eds.), New Bible dictionary (3rd ed., p. 963). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
When God says something into the future, it is not just words it is a promise, through his uncoruptable nature he is bound to fulfil that promise.
Now we are made in the image of God. This makes this an interesting concept. when you say you will do something - whatever it is it carries the weight of a solemn oath, a vow or a contract.
Expand
Jesus backs that up in Matthew.

33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. v

The Message Chapter 5

And don’t say anything you don’t mean. This counsel is embedded deep in our traditions. You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ and never doing it, or saying, ‘God be with you,’ and not meaning it. You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.

God’ s promises were made with a public announcemnt
God’ s promises were made with a public announcement, demonstation or covenant action
This method of making a covenant dates back to the first covenant recorded in the Bible, the one between God and Abraham (). The two contracting parties killed an animal, cut the body in two, and passed between the parts.
This way of making a covenant is referred to in the Hebrew word used to express making a covenant. The Hebrew word karath rendered make by most translations (see ) actually means cut, and if so rendered would make clear that most of the covenants in the Old Testament were blood covenants
Genesis 15:1–21 NIV
1 After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” 2 But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” 4 Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” 5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness. 7 He also said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.” 8 But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?” 9 So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.” 10 Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. 11 Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away. 12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. 13 Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. 15 You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” 17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates—19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”
The New Manners and Customs of the Bible 34:18 Cutting the Covenant
This method of making a covenant dates back to the first covenant recorded in the Bible, the one between God and Abraham (). The two contracting parties killed an animal, cut the body in two, and passed between the parts.
This way of making a covenant is referred to in the Hebrew word used to express making a covenant. The Hebrew word karath rendered make by most translations (see ) actually means cut, and if so rendered would make clear that most of the covenants in the Old Testament were blood covenants
This way of making a covenant is referred to in the Hebrew word used to express making a covenant. The Hebrew word karath rendered make by most translations (see Genesis 31:44) actually means cut, and if so rendered would make clear that most of the covenants in the Old Testament were blood covenants.
This method of making a covenant dates back to the first covenant recorded in the Bible, the one between God and Abraham (). The two contracting parties killed an animal, cut the body in two, and passed between the parts.
This way of making a covenant is referred to in the Hebrew word used to express making a covenant. The Hebrew word karath rendered make by most translations (see ) actually means cut, and if so rendered would make clear that most of the covenants in the Old Testament were blood covenants.
The New Manners and Customs of the Bible 34:18 Cutting the Covenant

This method of making a covenant dates back to the first covenant recorded in the Bible, the one between God and Abraham (Genesis 15:10). The two contracting parties killed an animal, cut the body in two, and passed between the parts. Some commentators believe that the design was to symbolize a curse that if the covenant should be broken, the same fate would befall the party who violated it as befell the animal. But normally the curses of the covenant were spoken and not symbolized. Other commentators think that the design was intended to symbolize that as the divided parts belonged to one animal, so the parties making the covenant were of one mind and heart regarding the covenant.

This way of making a covenant is referred to in the Hebrew word used to express making a covenant. The Hebrew word karath rendered make by most translations (see Genesis 31:44) actually means cut, and if so rendered would make clear that most of the covenants in the Old Testament were blood covenants.

This way of making a covenant is referred to in the Hebrew word used to express making a covenant. The Hebrew word karath rendered make by most translations (see ) actually means cut, and if so rendered would make clear that most of the covenants in the Old Testament were blood covenants.

God’s promises are irrevocable

He is absolutely trustworthy See also ;
He is unchanging ; ;
He has the power and will to fulfil his promises See also
He is faithful in keeping all his promises ; ; ; ;
His promises stem from his goodness and glory
PROMISE. There is in the Heb. OT no special term for the concept or act of promising. Where our English translations say that someone promised something, the Hebrew simply states that someone said or spoke (’āmar, dāḇar) some word with future reference.
Hoad, J. W. L. (1996). Promise. In D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, & D. J. Wiseman (Eds.), New Bible dictionary (3rd ed., p. 963). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
When God says something into the future, it is not just words it is a promise, through his uncoruptable nature he is bound to fulfil that promise.
Now we are made in the image of God. This makes this an interesting concept. when you say you will do something - whatever it is it carries the weight of a solemn oath, a vow or a contract.
Expand
He is unchanging ; ;
He has the power and will to fulfil his promises See also
He is faithful in keeping all his promises ; ; ; ;
His promises stem from his goodness and glory
Jesus backs that up in Matthew.

33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. v

The Message Chapter 5

And don’t say anything you don’t mean. This counsel is embedded deep in our traditions. You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ and never doing it, or saying, ‘God be with you,’ and not meaning it. You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.

Conditional promises

In the OT many of His promises s are, however, conditional upon obedience on the part of believers.
When Gods people were in slavery in Egypt God made another promise that was based on blood, the promise of the passover. An event that is intrinsically linked to the communion meal.
That promise was simple

Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. 8

On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD. 13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.

Failure to keep mans side of this covenant - to mark the house with blood would result in one death.
Given man’s innate ability to not follow God I do wonder if there were Jews, that ‘forgot’, were too busy, were not into being committed, were on teh edge and didn’t follow their side of the covenant. The bible doesn’t tell us.
But it is clear that God was mindful that even from the beginning, starting with Adam and Eve that man struggles to keep the covenant. I think that is why God kept building in a way out, a second chance.
I enter into contracts at work. They set out what both parties will do to fulfil the covenant. They detail what the penalty will be if either party breaks the covenant.
At the end of the contract we both sign.

A one sided promise

The same is true of covenents in ancient times. thinking back to the line of dead animals. Normally, both parties would walk between the divided pieces of the animals.
Normally, both parties would walk between the divided pieces of the animals.
You can read this in
Jeremiah 34:19 NIV
19 The leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the court officials, the priests and all the people of the land who walked between the pieces of the calf,
But we read in the first covenant that that only God walked the path.
Genesis 15:17–18 NIV
17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates—
NIV
God was making this easy on the people, he was not binding them into the penalties that come with the breaking of a promise, he was constantly giving the people a second change, a third change a forth chance.
Genesis 15:17–20 NIV
17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates—19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites,
We know a God that cares so much for us that he is willing to keep reminding us of the promises he has and granting us a way back to him no matter how many times we fail.

Not the only one sided promise

we see one on this table, as we read the words form Matther
Matthew 26:28 NIV
28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
m
From Mark
Mark 14:24 NIV
24 “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them.
From Luke
Luke 22:20 NIV
20 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.
Through the shedding of Jesus’s blood - God once again took the initiative and forms a one-sided covenant with his people - a promise that brings about the forgiveness of Sins and restores the relation ship between God and us.
Matthew, Mar
Through the shedding of Jesus’s blood - God once again took the initiative and formed a one-sided covenant with his people - a promise that brings about the forgiveness of Sins and restores the relation ship between God and us.
The original covenant was all about a promise for the current land.
Genesis 15:18–21 NIV
18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates—19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”
The new covenant extends this to a place in heaven and the world when Jesus comes to rule again, not just in our human life spans but for eternity.
The new covenant extends this to a place in heaven and the world when Jesus comes to rule again.

God has always been willing to forgive Sin

This one sided agreement is all about removing the thing that stops us being with God. - SIN.
God has always been willing to forgive Sin but it was reliant on the actions of man, the Old Testament Sacrifices could never really cut it. The day that Jesus took the bread and the wine in the upper room he announced The new covenant - of his blood - he made another one-sided covenant. Another Covenant sealed by blood - his own.
Can you picture the scene - Jesus picked up the bread that was there as part of the Passover meal that He and the disciples were their to celebrate as had been done for centuries. As Jesus picks up the bread, saying this is My body, they were probably some what confused but as he took the cup that passover meal was given a new meaning. Luke writes
Luke 22:20 NIV
20 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.
It was at this point that the passover was forever transformed, reinvented as the Lords Supper/ commnion / eucharist as part of the new covenant.
This new covenant was completely one sided. the old covenant was mediated by obedience to the law.
This new covenant was given freely, though it is not free, the cost was picked up by God, the ultimate price has been paid. This covenant of grace replaces the old
Hebrews 8:6 NIV
6 But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises.
Hebrews 8:6–8 NIV
6 But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises. 7 For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8 But God found fault with the people and said: “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.
Heberws 8:6-8
Hebrews 8:8 NIV
8 But God found fault with the people and said: “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.
The old covenant of law said “Do this and you shall live” Grace says I have done it for you. The new covenant is entirely an undertaking of God - founded in love, freely given and available to each of us.
It is founded in and sealed by blood, the blood not of an animal but of Jesus himself. It is the blood of the sacrifice in which God commits himself to us in the most solemn way possible. God fulfils his promise to save us, to love us, to heal, to set free, to be close, to....
We are going to take communion
As we take communion together let us take time to remember Gods commitment, his covenant to us to restore us, who would not be served well by the old covenant, those of us that are not perfect, those of us that fail or are tempted, those of us that recognise that our efforts are not good enough and never can be.
Come to this table, not because you must - but because God says you may, not because you are strong, but because you are weak. Come, not because any goodness of your own gives you a right to come, but because you need mercy and grace. Come, because you love the Lord a little and would like to love him more. Come, because he loved you and gave himself for you. Come and meet the risen Christ, who paid the ultimate cost to seal Gods promise with you.
NIV23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 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.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Heberews 8:8
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