The night before his crucifixion, Jesus dined with his disciples in celebration of the Passover. At this meal, commonly known as the Last Supper, Jesus lifted a cup of wine and declared, “This cup . . . is the New Covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20). At this declaration, Jesus revealed that his death would inaugurate the New Covenant the Old Testament prophets (such as Jeremiah and Ezekiel) prophesied that God would make with his people in the last days. At last, the promises of restoration and reconciliation foretold from the days of Adam and Eve would be accomplished. God and humanity would once again be in fellowship with one another without the stain of sin and death.
This kind of reconciliation could only be accomplished through Jesus. The writer of Hebrews stated it plainly: Jesus “entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12). Jesus’s finished work on the cross means that the payment for sin has been made once for all and will never need to be repeated. Through him, we are able to have an eternal redemption from the oppression of sin and broken fellowship with God.
So, what does this mean for the former promises of God? Are those covenants obsolete because of Jesus? Jesus answered this question in the Sermon on the Mount: his life, death, and resurrection did not abolish the law and the prophets, but rather he is the fulfillment of them (Matthew 5:17). The law revealed Israel’s need for a savior. It showed God’s people how to live and what he expected from them—faithfulness, holiness, and a self- sacrificing love for God and others. But because of their hardened and idolatrous hearts, they were unable to live up to God’s standards, as is true for us apart from Jesus. Jesus perfectly embodied the spirit of the law, thus fulfilling it, so we are no longer bound to obedience to the old covenants, but instead we live in the freedom of the New Covenant secured by Jesus on the cross.
Though we are no longer bound to the old covenant, we are still called to live differently as God’s people. But now, in Jesus, we are empowered to live as God desired for his children, because “the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, [will] purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Hebrews 9:14). No longer are we condemned under a law we could never fulfill, but instead, through our renewed relationship with God the Father through the sacrifice of his Son, we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to holy living. Because of God’s Spirit dwelling within us through Jesus, we can live in faithfulness, righteousness, holiness, full of love for God and for others, as God has called us to do.