Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Bloody Covenant… (Hebrews 9:15-22) 050509

I always ask myself this question: Do I love my wife or my daughter enough to die for them? I just came back from retreat, and I had a chance to watch a DVD called: John Q. It is about an African American father hijacked the Emergency Room of an hospital, wanting his son’s name to be put on the list of donor recipients as his son was very sick with his heart failing and would die without a heart transplant. John Q was desperate and he won the sympathy and respect of many who know of his situation. When he thought that there was no way that his son was going to get a heart transplant, he was ready to give up his own life and beg the doctor to take his heart to put it in his son. That was a very touching scene. I wept. I was moved by the love of John Q has for his son. Will I give up my life for my wife or my daughter? I don’t know, when the really hits, will I? But I know Jesus gave up His life on the Cross for me.

Today’s passage reminds me of the new Covenant which Jesus speaks about in Mark 14:24, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.’, and also recorded by Paul, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood.’ (1Cor. 11:25).
The new covenant involves blood. This is not a new idea; the author of Hebrews explains this idea from the Old Testament, what Moses did (v19-22). But this time, the blood is not from an animal, it is from a Person, it is from the Son of God, it is from Jesus Christ our Lord. When I think of it, I was so moved and thankful for what Christ did on the Cross; but why was death and blood necessary? I think it has to do with the understanding of covenant which comes from a Greek word diatheke. And there is problem with this Greek word too, most commentators will share the same sentiment as Leon Morris:

in English because we have no single word that is the precise equivalent of diatheke. This Greek word denotes something like an authoritative laying down of what is to be done and is the normal word for a last will and testament. But it is also suited to covenants God makes with people. These are not the result of a process of negotiation in which God talks things over with people and they come to a mutually acceptable arrangement. God lays down the terms. The result is a covenant characterized by the same kind of finality as we see in a testament. (One cannot dicker with a testator!) The author moves easily from the idea of covenant to that of testament. It might help us follow him if we render the first clause in v. 15 (with NEB) as "he is the mediator of a new covenant, or testament." This gives two translations for the one Greek word but helps us retain something of the continuity of thought. The death of the testator is necessary for a diatheke (taking the term in the sense "testament") to come into effect. The will may be perfectly valid but it does not operate till death takes place.

This is the way we have to understand covenant, it is God initiated, and it has to be fulfilled in His way, which is a bloody way. In the Old Testament, it was the blood of an animal; and in the New Testament, it is the blood of Christ and it has effect till eternity. That is why Jesus has to die, that is why He has to shed His blood. It is because the Covenant He has made with His people is a bloody one.
Will you shed your blood for someone you love? How about someone you don’t know? How about someone who is your enemy?
Take this covenant seriously, because it costs the blood of Jesus. And only by the shedding of His blood, there is forgiveness (v22).
Our forgiveness is only found in the bloody covenant…


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