Jesus and the New Covenant

Finding Jesus In The Old Testament  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
0 ratings
· 1 view


Have you guys ever heard of something called Kintsugi? You see throughout history it’s been the practice of most cultures, that when a piece of pottery breaks you either throw it away, or you glue it back together in the most precise and invisible way possible. The idea behind that is that if you’re fixing your pottery you want to restore it to what it used to be, or at least as closely as you can. Kintsugi is different. Kintsugi is the Japanese art of restoring pottery or ceramics in a unique way. Instead of using invisible adhesives they use a lacquer coated with gold, silver or platinum.
The result is that each time a piece of pottery or ceramic breaks it is restored in a new and arguably even more beautiful state.
Today’s scripture reminds me of this idea. You see the Israelites were given a special covenant with God, begun with Abraham but fully established with Moses and the newly freed Israelites on Mount Sinai. This was like their contract with God, where God gave them special blessing, favor and a promised land in exchange for them keeping the terms of the covenant, what we call the Old Testament Law. The problem was that the Israelites, like everyone in the world, failed to keep God’s law. So as a result they faced the consequences that they had agreed to when they agreed to the covenant, the covenant curses. Among these punishments for not keeping the law was losing their temple and their land and living in exile under the rule of foreign authorities.
What God could have done is just restore the status quo. He could have said to the Israelites by His prophets “okay, you guys have been punished long enough, I’m going to give you back the covenant and let you try again.” He could have given them the same law and encouraged them to try harder to keep it. That’s not what God chose to do. Instead we read God’s plan in advance through the prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 31:31-34
Jeremiah 31:31–34 CSB
“Look, the days are coming”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. This one will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors on the day I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt—my covenant that they broke even though I am their master”—the Lord’s declaration. “Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days”—the Lord’s declaration. “I will put my teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will one teach his neighbor or his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know me, from the least to the greatest of them”—this is the Lord’s declaration. “For I will forgive their iniquity and never again remember their sin.
You see God’s plan wasn’t just to give the Israelites back their status quo, it was to give them something even greater, a new everlasting covenant. We’ve been for nearly a year now exploring many of the places you can find Jesus in the Old Testament, by looking at types, christophanies and prophecies that teach us about the character of Jesus before He was even born. Today’s passage of course is a little less directly about Jesus than most of these have been. It’s not about Jesus Himself, but about the New Covenant that He came to bring. This passage is what Jesus is referring to when He instituted Communion in Luke 22:20
Luke 22:20 CSB
In the same way he also took the cup after supper and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
So we have Jesus Himself claiming to fulfill this prophecy. Not only that, but Jeremiah has the unique honor of having the longest Old Testament quote in the New Testament. In Hebrews chapter 8 the author quotes all four of these verses in support of the idea that Jesus is the Great High Priest who brings a new and better covenant. Before he quotes Jeremiah the author of Hebrews says in Hebrews 8:6
Hebrews 8:6 CSB
But Jesus has now obtained a superior ministry, and to that degree he is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been established on better promises.
So if Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to give the Israelites a new covenant, what can we learn about the nature of this new covenant and about the nature of Jesus from this passage in Jeremiah 31:31-34? Today we’ll examine this passage and explore how in the New Covenent:
The Law Will Be Written On Our Hearts
We Will Know The Lord
We Will Have Forgiveness for Sins

The Law Will Be Written On Our Hearts

The first of three promises that God gives about the New Covenant is found in verse 33
Jeremiah 31:33 CSB
“Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days”—the Lord’s declaration. “I will put my teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
You see the heart is where the problem lies. We know that if the Old Testament law was truly given to the Israelites by God Himself that it’s not because of some lack in the law that the people of Israel failed to keep it. Rather intead as Jeremiah says earlier in this same book Jeremiah 17:9
Jeremiah 17:9 CSB
The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable—who can understand it?
Because of the fall of mankind in the garden of Eden we are all born with broken hearts. No matter how hard we try and how much we strive we are incapable of living up to God’s standards. As Paul says in Romans 3:23
Romans 3:23 CSB
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God;
So restoring the Old Covenant could never be a permanent solution, because the people with their wicked hearts would simply turn around and do the same things over again and God would be forced to punish them again.
That means that the only answer is for God to give us a heart transplant, to fix our broken hearts. Ezekiel 36:26, also speaking of the time to come says:
Ezekiel 36:26 CSB
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
And it’s on this new heart of flesh that God will write His law. So no longer will we be living under the yoke of a law written on stone, but instead the matter will become one of the heart. We see this when Jesus comes and teaches the people, and how he consistently takes do and do not statements from the Old Covenant and brings them inward to be matters of the heart. Consider Matthew 5:21-22
Matthew 5:21–22 CSB
“You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, Do not murder, and whoever murders will be subject to judgment. But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Whoever insults his brother or sister, will be subject to the court. Whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be subject to hellfire.
and also Matthew 5:27-28
Matthew 5:27–28 CSB
“You have heard that it was said, Do not commit adultery. But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Jesus is more concerned with the state of their hearts than just with whether they were outwardly keeping the letter of the law. This is why Jesus said that He didn’t come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. He didn’t undo the law but instead gave us new hearts and wrote the law on them. That’s why Paul can say that we are no longer under the law, as in Romans 6:14
Romans 6:14 CSB
For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under the law but under grace.
There’s a lot more to Romans 6 than just that, but the whole spirit of Paul’s argument is that we are set free from sin and enslaved to righteousness but no longer under the law. This is because Jesus not only paid for our sin but also sent the Holy Spirit to enable us to live righteously by the New Covenant.
Now hold on though, we aren’t all keeping the law perfectly yet are we? That’s because this is another of those “already but not yet” prophecies. We are living in the New Covenant that God announced, but Jesus hasn’t yet fully brought in the Kingdom. We are in the recruitment drive phase before the culmination of all things. The final complete fulfillment of this prophecy will only come in the New Heavens and New Earth when we are finally fully regenerated in our hearts and able to live freely but without sin.

We Will Know The Lord

I know a lot about the band Switchfoot, and bout their lead singer Jon Foreman. Did you know that before they were called Switchfoot they were briefly called Chin Up? And before that Jon Foreman was in a band called etc? I have every Switchfoot CD and even a few “making of” dvds and a live concert dvd. Sadly I’ve only been to one live concert, because I’ve lived most of my life in New Brunswick and hardly any bands ever come here. Fun fact: Jon Foreman writes a song pretty much every day. Often when they sat down to record a new album the first part of the process was to sift through a huge list of songs Jon wrote to wittle it down from 80 to 12 or so.
Does that mean I know Jon Foreman? It doesn’t, it just means I know about Jon Foreman, and that’s a pretty big difference. I can call myself a fan, support him financially by buying his music and merch and if I have the money and they perform close enough I could even buy a backstage ticket and meet him and shake His hand. Still I wouldn’t be able to say I know him.
This is sort of the way things were between Israel and God in the days of the Old Covenant. With the exception of Moses and other prophets most Israelites spent their lives learning a lot of things about God, making sacrifices to Him and praying to Him, etc. But I think it’s safe to say that a lot of them didn’t really know God the way that is meant in our passage today. Let’s read Jeremiah 31:34
Jeremiah 31:34 CSB
No longer will one teach his neighbor or his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know me, from the least to the greatest of them”—this is the Lord’s declaration. “For I will forgive their iniquity and never again remember their sin.
So we have a picture painted of before: people having to teach each other knowledge about God, and after when the least to the greatest will know God.
Through Christ we are enabled to not only know things about God, but to actually know Him. Because He has atoned for our sins we now having been made clean so that God is no longer seperate from us. 2 Corinthians 5:17-19
2 Corinthians 5:17–19 CSB
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come! Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us.
Not only has Christ reconciled us with God, but He is also the way that we know the Father, and the ultimate revelation of God on earth. He said as much in John 14, where He also tells us that He will send us the Holy Spirit to dwell in us to enable constant relationship with us. We read about this in John 14:6-17
John 14:6–17 CSB
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” “Lord,” said Philip, “show us the Father, and that’s enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been among you all this time and you do not know me, Philip? The one who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who lives in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Otherwise, believe because of the works themselves. “Truly I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. “If you love me, you will keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive him because it doesn’t see him or know him. But you do know him, because he remains with you and will be in you.
Though we will one day know Him even more deeply, as this prophecy as well is only fulfilled in part, we can now know God truly as opposed to just knowing about Him thanks to the New Covenant we have access to through Christ.

We Will Have Forgiveness for Sins

Try to imagine yourself as an Israelite before the time of Jesus. You are God’s special chosen people, who are living in the promised land that is “flowing with milk and honey.” The only problem is that you are a sinful person who serves a Holy and Just God. The fact that He’s Holy means He is set apart and the presence of sinful people is offensive to Him. The fact that He’s just means that He has promised to judge people for their sins. Thankfully He’s also loving, meaning that He made a way for sinful men to come into His presence and atone for sin.
The way the Israelites did this was through their animal sacrifices. What you may not know is that most of the sacrifices weren’t actually to atone for sins. Most were gifts given in thanksgiving to God, or in worship to God. In fact there was only a sacrifice for atonement once a year, on the aptly named “Day of Atonement” when the High Priest would sacrifice two animals. One for His own sins, and another for the sins of the people. So the nation of Israel is in a constant cycle of sin and atonement.
Matters get worse from there. Because of Israel’s great sin and rebellion against God, a foreign nation comes and destroys the temple, the only place given by God to give sacrifice. In fact the scriptures specifically forbid the giving of sacrifices anywhere but in the temple in Jerusalem. So what are the Israelites to do now? How can they atone for the sins of their nation without the temple, or even for their own individual sins?
It’s in this backdrop that we read the second promise of verse 34 about the New Covenant.
Jeremiah 31:34 CSB
No longer will one teach his neighbor or his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know me, from the least to the greatest of them”—this is the Lord’s declaration. “For I will forgive their iniquity and never again remember their sin.
First notice that the previous promise we talked about - knowing God - is tied in with this one, forgiveness of sins. That’s not accidental. The biggest obstacle to knowing God intamitely is our sin. A Holy God cannot be joined to sin, and so sin is a separation between us and God. At best Israel had one day a year when they could have assurance of a clean slate with God, and now without the temple who could have real confidence that they were cleansed and able to approach God?
So then this promise is one of immense hope. God is bringing a New Covenant with promises that He will in this New Covenant “forgive their iniquity and never again remember their sin.” So little said about so great a gift. Because the New Covenant would bring with it the better sacrifice of Jesus that atones for the sins of any who will come to Him. We read in Hebrews 10:1-18
Hebrews 10:1–18 CSB
Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come, and not the reality itself of those things, it can never perfect the worshipers by the same sacrifices they continually offer year after year. Otherwise, wouldn’t they have stopped being offered, since the worshipers, purified once and for all, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in the sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year after year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, as he was coming into the world, he said: You did not desire sacrifice and offering, but you prepared a body for me. You did not delight in whole burnt offerings and sin offerings. Then I said, “See— it is written about me in the scroll— I have come to do your will, God.” After he says above, You did not desire or delight in sacrifices and offerings, whole burnt offerings and sin offerings (which are offered according to the law), he then says, See, I have come to do your will. He takes away the first to establish the second. By this will, we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all time. Every priest stands day after day ministering and offering the same sacrifices time after time, which can never take away sins. But this man, after offering one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God. He is now waiting until his enemies are made his footstool. For by one offering he has perfected forever those who are sanctified. The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. For after he says: This is the covenant I will make with them after those days, the Lord says, I will put my laws on their hearts and write them on their minds, and I will never again remember their sins and their lawless acts. Now where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.
So Jesus undid the need for atonement for sins and made a way for everyone to be forgiven who repents and puts their faith in the resurrection. So each one of us here in this room is now able to draw near to the presence of God through what Jesus has done on our behalf, which is why directly after this the writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 10:19-22
Hebrews 10:19–22 CSB
Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus—he has inaugurated for us a new and living way through the curtain (that is, through his flesh)—and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.
So the final promise of the New Covenant is the way that the first two are made possible in the first place.


So then, brothers and sisters, isn’t it good to be men and women of the New Covenant of Jesus? Let’s recap the promises that God made about the New Covenant. First, the law of God will be written on our hearts. As people of the New Covenant through the Holy Spirit we have access to God’s Will in a way never realized before. This underscores the importance of prayer in our discernment, and the ability and responsibility of each Christian to along with their study of Scripture pursue the Will of God for themselves.
Second, that we would know God. Meaning we each have the opportunity to build an actual relationship with the God who created the Universe yet still loves each and every one of us. The devotional life of the Christian gives opportunity to actually know God intimately instead of just know about God. This is a warning against an academic attitude towards Jesus and towards seeking Him as a person and not as an idea or a theological system.
Finally that our sins will be forgiven. The only way this can happen is through repentance and faith in Christ. Be assured that if you have repented and put your faith in Him that He is sufficient to take away all of your sins and make you right with God. If you haven’t yet repented and put your faith in Jesus let me encourage you in the strongest way possible of the amazing gift that is true communion with God that we can have if we are cleansed of our sins and made right with Him.
Let us conclude with the practical encouragement that the author of Hebrews gives after he spoke at length about the New and better Covenant in Hebrews 10:23-25
Hebrews 10:23–25 CSB
Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, since he who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching.
Related Media
See more
Related Sermons
See more