“The time is coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. (Jer 31:31)
Given that the document for the Old Covenant is the book of Deuteronomy, we should expect to be able to find the document which constitutes the New Covenant. Having done so we would then be able to discover its terms and so explain clearly and simply what the New Covenant is all about.
The Institution Of The New Covenant
Most of us probably recognise some of the basics of the New Covenant - the Lord's Supper, Jesus' death on the cross and baptism for example. However, these are simply outward signs and not the terms of the Covenant.
We know that Jesus, at the Last Supper, said:
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you." (Luke 22:20)
Here he institutes the Covenant and it is clear that it is ratified by his shedding of his own blood on the cross. So we can expect to find the terms of the New Covenant between the Last Supper and the crucifixion. And indeed we do, in John's Gospel. In fact, once we know what we're looking for it is very easy to spot. It begins at John 13:34 when Jesus says:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Notice how he doesn't begin until after Judas the traitor has left. What follows is just for the true disciples and Jesus begins to lay down the terms of the New Covenant beginning with the command to love one another.
As we continue to read, despite the interruptions of various members of the Eleven, we begin to recognise covenant terminology, conditions and promises. These continue through to the end of John 16.
Understanding The New Covenant
If we want to fully understand what it means to be a Christian these few chapters in John's Gospel will repay some consistent study. We will discover what it means to be in a New Covenant relationship with God. We will find out what the Lord regards as our obligations and the blessings which are promised to us. We learn what it truly means to be a Christian.
Next time we will begin to look at the details of the New Covenant.