About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
Jesus reclined on the
floor with the Israeli men His Father chose to further His cause once He
was gone. Eleven of them had
no clue of what would soon transpire.
This particular Hebrew Passover would be both memorable and
Men are men, and when men
get together there's often some frivolity.
John could have easily poked Peter in the ribs in the hope of a
jovial response to lighten the mood, but it wouldn't have worked.
The mood was becoming more subdued by the minute.
"Take this and divide it among you", Jesus said.
"For I tell you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine
again until the
These men were Jews.
They understood the concept of covenant.
The promises of the Abrahamic, Mosaic, and Davidic Covenant,
would have been burned into their Hebrew brains; but what about this new
covenant? Did anyone recall
Jeremiah 31:31? "The
days are coming says the Lord when I will make a new covenant with the
people of Israel". Was Jesus linking
His new covenant with Jeremiah 31:31?
The new covenant in
Jeremiah 31:31 is directed specifically to Israelis, not to Gentiles.
The disciples would have known this.
They would have also known that the Jeremiah 31:31 new covenant
was part of a prophecy that spanned a few chapters.
These chapters predicted Israel's final judgment and subsequent restoration of land and nationhood. If
Jesus was linking His new covenant to Jeremiah 31:31 as the majority of
Evangelicals believe, and, as Hebrews chapter 8 confirms to be so, we've
got to understand Jeremiah 31:31 in its proper prophetic context.
If we don't, we'll misunderstand Jesus.
The context of Jeremiah
31:31 goes back to Jeremiah 30:1 to 3 where God said that He would
gather Israelis to the land He had promised their forefathers.
This promise of land was originally made to Abraham in Genesis
15:18. "On that day the
Lord made a covenant with Abraham and said, 'To your descendants I give
this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the
As Jeremiah's prophecy
continues to predict, before the promise of land is realized, Israel
will suffer more than any time in its history.
It's the time of Jacob's trouble as stated in Jeremiah 30:7.
When this horrific suffering ends, Israel's domination by its enemies will be broken, and as Jeremiah 31:33
predicts, God's laws will be written on their hearts and minds.
Of course, all this is yet to be fulfilled.
To make a long prophecy
short, the new covenant as seen in Jeremiah 31:31 is an integral
component of the prophecy that predicts the ultimate restoration of Israel's land and its international supremacy among the nations.
So, if we're to link Jesus' new covenant with Jeremiah 31:31 as
Hebrews chapter 8 states we should, we must conclude that one
fundamental aspect of Jesus'
blood sacrifice was to confirm the promise of land and nationhood to
Israelis as predicted by Jeremiah, and was promised by God to Abraham.
No wonder the disciples asked Jesus; "are you at this time
going to restore the kingdom to Israel"? (Acts 1:6) Many have
thought this question to be untimely and foolish, but once knowing
prophetic history, it makes perfect Biblical sense.
I suggest that the disciples would have anticipated drinking the
covenantal cup of wine with Jesus after the
I'm not negating the fact
that Jesus' blood sacrifice provided forgiveness of sins for every
human. His supreme sacrifice
had to be made before Jews or anyone else could benefit from every
aspect of the new covenant. I'm
merely pointing out an aspect of the new covenant that is often missed.
John 1:11 tells us that
Jesus came to minister to the Jews.
The gospel accounts show that He didn't ignore Gentiles, but His
priority was to Israelis. "To
the Jew first and then to the Gentiles", as Romans 1:16 states.
Jesus introduced the new
covenant to 12 Jewish men in the context of the Jewish Passover.
It was the next covenantal step in the prophetic process that
would eventually give Israel
its promised land and nationhood. This
doesn't exclude Gentiles from participating in the new covenant.
As far back as Deuteronomy 32:21, in the Mosaic Covenant, God
predicted the day when Gentiles would be included in His plans.
Thus, believing Gentiles have been grafted into a Jewish tree
that is rooted in the Abrahamic Covenant. (Romans 11:17)
I just wonder one thing.
Why do so many Evangelicals who believe in the prophetic