Roger's Postings

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Luke 22:19-20. A New Covenant 1/4/10

(Luke 22:19-20) 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." {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.

This night, some 2,000 years ago, Jesus set down a new covenant: a new contract for his people. A covenant whereby we can be absolutely sure that God loves us, forgives us and has won eternal life for us: that we are in a new and permanent relationship with God for all eternity. So here, Jesus begins a whole new understanding and basis for life with our God.

This covenant or contract between God and us has eternal consequences, so we need to think carefully as to what it is all about. Especially, since it incorporates and involves you and me personally; and our attitude toward it means eternity in either heaven or hell. That being the case we had best take it very seriously.

Now of course today we don’t value contracts and legal documents all that highly anymore – do we? As much as we are a legal society and have documents coming out of our ears, we are constantly looking for the loopholes and wanting our legal boffins to get us off the hook when we break our side of the bargain. The other side, of course, are expected to not slip up at all. Too often, the contracts we enter into today we want for our benefit only, and we fail to realize they are there for both parties. Covenants and contracts are important for our ongoing welfare and security. Without them, we would be in big trouble. Even if many times they are broken and taken advantage of - they are still very important. The more they are upheld by all the better off we all are.

Now here, this covenant that Jesus establishes, is even more important than all others. As here, we have that which has eternal consequences: life and death – heaven and hell; as well as the small details of life that are important. This covenant sets out our relationship with God; and either we are a part of this covenant with God or not. We cannot sit in no-mans land on this one. We are either for him or against him.

This contract is very much akin to a marriage covenant, where two people publicly join themselves to each other, for life: promising to live in a loving relationship for as long as they live. There we long for that assurance that we are loved, for life, and belong to a relationship where we can feel safe and secure. This is something that we so much want in life; And despite the fact that so many are living in de-facto relationships, they still know and want that ongoing love and sense of belonging. Now we know that this relationship can be broken – as we see all too often today. We also see that this breakdown has dire consequences – great hurt occurs; and on many occasions this relationship is broken for good.

However when that covenant is upheld as vitally important and lived every day in light of its importance, we can see that it gives great joy, peace, contentment and much more. There is a harmony, richness and security in that relationship that is truly fantastic.

Now here Jesus establishes a relationship between God and us that surpasses this greatly. Here despite ourselves – despite our sinfulness and rebellion our Lord commits himself to this relationship. He comes to us and says, ‘I will be your God – I will love you and forgive you - help you and be faithful to you for all of life.’ But he doesn’t just say this, but he then goes on from his side to sign this contract: he signs it with his very own blood – there on cross, and rises again three days later so that we can be absolutely sure.

So here we have God himself, in and through Jesus Christ binding himself to us; assuring us that he loves, forgives and accepts us as very own. There he says, ‘I am here to be in a close personal relationship with you for all of eternity - each one of you – and it is all signed, sealed and delivered.

In this Last Supper, he gives to his people that covenant relationship. He gives to them something which enables them, and therefore us also, to carry with us as a constant reminder of all this. Here is something more, than say simply a marriage certificate, which says that we are in this covenant relationship.

No, here he gives himself to us so that we can be sure that he loves us and is for us. At every Communion service he tells us, “here is my very body and blood which was shed on the cross: my very presence is here with you so that you can be sure.” He doesn’t just give us some bread and wine, and say ‘remember’ that I love you and died for you: but says, “here IS my body – here IS my blood,” ‘here I am with you.’ ‘I am really and truly here for you – to assure you that I love you, forgive you, and have eternal life for you.’ And as an extension of that, he throughout our gatherings, joins us: he participates with us; speaks to us through his Word: listens to us in our prayers; and helps us through our fellow brothers and sisters. He is there to live in that close personal relationship with us every day; to be our God and our friend. And it is this that he established on that night when he was betrayed – before he goes to the cross and dies in our place, and then rises again three days later.

So here, we have something that is absolutely essential for us and our wellbeing. It is the greatest – God promising and giving himself to us; assuring us that he is with us and for us. He has made that covenant with us and shares that with us every time we come forward in Holy Communion; so that we can know for sure that it is so.

Now that Jesus has established and does all of this, surely we will live in that relationship; seek to make the most it; and find peace and assurance in it. Surely, we will not walk away from all of this and go back to living as if God is some distant and uncaring being out there somewhere: that he doesn’t have much at all do with us and our daily life. Surely if he has made us part his family; committing himself fully to us – we will now live in that relationship, and enjoy all the benefits, joys and security of it all; rather than go out and try to get through life on our own without God’s friendship and help.

And since this is the meal where he personally comes to us and gives himself to us, we surely will take every opportunity possible to be there; and to participate in it. In your marriage, do you go your own way, and not eat with your spouse for weeks on end – not talking to them and being in a close relationship with them. No, that is ridiculous! So also with our Lord – surely! We now will want to be with him. We will want to live in a close personal relationship with him – listening to him - seeking his guidance and help as we go through life. He has done so much for us - dying for us, forgiving us, and gaining eternal life for us; doing everything to regain us into his family. This surely is the greatest and most valuable thing that has ever happened in our lives. We will want to stay close to this one who has done so much for us.

So to conclude, in the Lord’s Supper our God has set down this new covenant so that we can be sure that he is now with us and for us. In this way Holy Communion now becomes very important for us, in that there we are reminded that our Lord gives us his very body and blood so that we can constantly be reassured that he forgives us and is here amongst us. So let us now make the most of living in this covenant relationship. It is the best that there is.
To God be the glory – great things he has done. To him be honour, glory and praise now and always. AMEN.

Pastor Roger Atze
Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish


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