Communion and New Covenant

I’d like to share a perspective on communion that has really changed the way I view this sacrament.

At the last supper, Jesus took the bread and the cup and served it to his disciples. When he served the cup he said, “… this is the New Covenant in My blood.” I’m not sure if you’ve thought about those words recently. Those who take communion acknowledge they have, through faith, entered into a covenant with God. A covenant is an agreement, a contract. But what exactly does this mean in the context of communion?

There’s a scene in the Old Testament, in Exodus 24, that I believe foreshadows our New Testament communion.

When Moses received the Old Covenant from God on Mt. Sinai, the text says that he collected the blood of some sacrificed animals in basins. He then took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!” Each person said this individually… but they also said it collectively… as a community.

Then Moses did something that seems really weird… maybe a little gross too! Moses took the blood from the basins and sprinkled it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

“… the blood of the covenant…” That should sound familiar to our New Testament ears.

At Mt. Sinai, the people heard and understood the law, promised to follow it, and then the blood was applied on them. This was the Old Covenant. The Old Covenant was written on stone tablets…

The details of the New Covenant are described by Jesus through the authors of the New Testament but the implementation of that law is written on the hearts of believers. When we come to faith in Christ, we agree to follow the covenant that was spoken by Jesus and is being written on our hearts.

It’s as if believers say, “All that the Lord has explained in Scripture, and will say through the Holy Spirit to our hearts, we agree… we will do. Jesus doesn’t sprinkle us with the blood of the New Covenant… he invites us to drink it… to internalize it as a symbol of the cleansing power that it has on our hearts.

Communion is a time not just to remember the death of Christ… it’s also a time to remind ourselves, as a covenant community, that we have agreed to listen to and follow the Holy Spirit’s direction in our lives. We do this as individuals and as a community.

… the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 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.” – 1 Corinthians 11:23–25 (NASB95)

As often as we eat the bread and drink the cup, we proclaim the Lord’s death… and the life-changing power of the New Covenant until He comes. 

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