When Jesus came as Messiah, as messenger of the new covenant and as mediator of that covenant, the good news message he brought from Yahweh, as it had always been, was essentially: believe Me, trust Me, love Me, obey Me, and I will be your God – and this time I will give you a heart, a mind and a spirit to do it, and you will be my children. See previous studies in the Category ‘Gospel’ for related articles.
When asked which was the greatest commandment, Jesus answered:
Matthew 22:36-40 NRSV
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
37 He said to him, ” “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
38 This is the greatest and first commandment.
39 And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
In Matthew chapters 5,6 and 7 we have the account of ‘the sermon on the mount’ in which Jesus told the people that under the new covenant ‘keeping the letter of the law outwardly’ wasn’t going to be good enough, not the way we will be doing things from now on – the inner motivations, desires and attitudes had to change:
Matthew 5:22 NRSV
But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire.
Matthew 5:27-28 NRSV
”You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.’
28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
What was expected now:
Matthew 5:48 NRSV
Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 6:33 NRSV
But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matthew 7:12 NRSV
“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.
Matthew 7:21,24 NRSV
“Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.
24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.
When asked what must be done to inherit eternal life Jesus answered:
Matthew 19:16-17 NRSV
Then someone came to him and said, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”
17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
And if he wanted to be perfect:
Matthew 19:21 NRSV
Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
His followers were astonished at this:
Matthew 19:25 NRSV
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, “Then who can be saved?”
Matthew 19:26 NRSV
But Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”
So with Yahweh God, our Father, it is now possible – but how?
Matthew 3:11 NRSV
“I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
John 4:23-24 NRSV
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him.
24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
When Philip asked to be shown the Father how did Jesus reply:
John 14:8-11 NRSV
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father’?
10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works.
11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves.
Did Jesus say the Father indwelt him, was in intimate union with him, was there inside him empowering him to speak and act – ‘if you have seen me you have seen the Father, believe me, this is how it is happening!’. And what’s more, this is how it will be for you as well!
John 14:12 NRSV
Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.
John 14:15-17 NRSV
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.
17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
John 14:20-21 NRSV
On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.
21 They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”
John 14:23 NRSV
Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.
Does it say that both the Father and Jesus will indwell us, make their home with us, enabling us to love them, and to keep our Father’s words and commandments – the same way Jesus did, though not perfectly yet? Is this a promise from the Father?
John 14:24 NRSV
Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.
How did Jesus go on to pray for this wonderful empowering union in the new covenant?
John 17:20-23 NRSV
“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word,
21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
22 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one,
23 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
When was the new covenant inaugurated? Did Jesus initiate it at the Passover, the ‘last supper’?
Matthew 26:26-29 NRSV
While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”
27 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you;
28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
29 I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
Was this substantiated by his resurrection and the pouring out of the spirit?
Acts 2:32-33 NRSV
This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses.
33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you both see and hear.
How does Paul refer to this new covenant and compare it to the old one?
2 Corinthians 3:3, 6 NRSV
3 and you show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
6 who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
Was it active there and then?
Ephesians 1:13-14 NRSV
In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit;
14 this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.
Galatians 3:13-14 NRSV
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”—
14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
This is not forced on anyone, but is a believing willing choice to accept the gracious favour of our loving Father:
Ephesians 2:4-5 NRSV
But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us
5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ —by grace you have been saved—
Ephesians 2:8-10 NRSV
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—
9 not the result of works, so that no one may boast.
10 For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.
This new covenant relationship is a process we are progressing through with Our Father and Lord Messiah Jesus:
Colossians 3:1-11 NRSV
So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth,
3 for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
4 When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry).
6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient.
7 These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life.
8 But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth.
9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices
10 and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator.
11 In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!
We are to be ‘living sacrifices’ in this new covenant:
Romans 12:1-2 NRSV
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
And we are temples of the holy spirit:
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NRSV
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own?
20 For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.
Bought with a price, an awesome price – because Messiah Jesus was not only the messenger and mediator of the new covenant, but by his sacrifice he provided the blood of the new covenant by which we are redeemed:
1 Corinthians 11:23-26 NRSV
For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread,
24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
25 In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Hebrews 9:11-12 NRSV
But when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation),
12 he entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.
Hebrews 9:28 NRSV
so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
Are sins dealt with effectively and completely under this new covenant?
Hebrews 2:17 NRSV
Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people.
Hebrews 10:12 NRSV
But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, “he sat down at the right hand of God,”
Hebrews 10:17 NRSV
he also adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
So what does being in the new covenant now mean for those who believe?
Galatians 3:27 NRSV
As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
Yahweh’s New Covenant was brought and presented to Israel as a foundation of the messianic kingdom program. However the nation as a whole rejected the Messiah, his message and the covenant at that time, so the New Covenant will not be fulfilled with the nation of Israel until the Day of the Lord (Messiah’s return to earth) when the nation in repentance accepts the Messiah whom it previously considered to be ”stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted” (Isa 53:4; Zech 12:10-14).
Before that happens, believing Jews and gentiles are blessed to be able to participate in the New Covenant. This they can do through spirit baptism into Christ at the time of conversion. Though the Servant/Messiah came to His own people, “His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become the children of God, even to those who believe in His name . . .” (John 1:11-12).