“This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.” Luke 22:20
The definition of the word “covenant” in the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary is “a formal, solemn, and binding agreement: compact” or “to promise by a covenant: pledge”. In the original Greek, the word used here is “diatheke” and is translated as “covenant” or in some versions as “testament.” It means “a disposition, that is, a contract” as per Strong’s concordance.
As Christians, we enter into a covenant with God based on the promise, that was made through Jesus, of eternal life. The terms of this covenant (or agreement) are that God has paid the price to remove the judgment that was upon us due to our offenses. By the way, God has made it clear that all men fall under this judgment and are in need of this paid pardon or redemption. In other words, no person can say that they are deserving of this pardon based on their own merits or “goodness”. On the contrary (and this is hard for some people to accept), God has said that no one is acceptable by His standards unless they have entered into this covenant/agreement and have been pardoned by the payment of Jesus.
It is interesting to consider the value of the payment that was made. What could be more valuable than the life of the sinless, God-man, and Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ? Nothing. His life was represented by His blood, and thus the request to consider the “cup” that Jesus shared with His disciples at their last Passover meal to be a representation of the new covenant.
When we enter into this covenant, and receive the pardon/forgiveness, we then have our names entered into the “Book of Life” in heaven. This “book” is the one that will be opened at the end of the age, when the Lord will judge all men, and only those whose names are written in this book will enter into eternal life in the kingdom of God.
“And in the Spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. …….But nothing unclean shall enter it, nor any one who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Rev. 21: 10 & 27
This is the promise or pledge of the covenant, that we will forgo the “second death” that will be the fate of those who are not entered in the “Book of Life”. Included in our passing into eternal life in heaven are the benefits of a resurrected body, a mansion in heaven, riches that we have stored up, and reward based on our deeds here on earth.
This covenant is very much one-sided, for we don’t have anything to bring to the agreement. For our part, we are to be faithful to the promise; we are to remove ourselves from the false promises of this world and be true to the promise of heaven. We are to become, even now, citizens of heaven, with our hearts focused on the promised future. Thus the requirement on our part is faith – true faith, with the need to die, with Jesus, to this world, and to live for heaven.
Clearly, the focus of this covenant is the fact that we have been pledged a place in the kingdom of God in heaven, that our name is written in the book of life. Sadly, many Christians are confused about this focus. It seems that they are more focused on the things of this world, than on the promise of eternal life in the kingdom of God in heaven.
Note that the covenant is not focused on improving our life here on earth. God does say that He will keep us fed and clothed, and care for us as we travel through this life. He does say that He will free us from the bondage of the enemy. He does say that He will bring healing to our bodies when needed. But this is not the main focus of His covenant with us.
We are talking about the focus of our hearts. Consider this guidance that Jesus gave to His disciples when they were returning from a mission that he sent them on:
“Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name. And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:17- 20
Clearly, the focus of our hearts, and therefore our rejoicing, should be on the promise of eternal life. Yes, there may be times when we need to have authority over evil spirits, but this is not the focus of our hearts, and not the focus of our agreement with God, and therefore the main activity that we target for our lives. Rather, we should be focused on storing up riches in heaven.
I believe it is also a mistake for Christians to focus their hearts on working miracles of healing or on manifestations of the spirit, rather than focusing on the promise of heaven. I think Jesus supports this belief when He says this:
“And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell.” Mark 9:43-47
Cutting off your hand or foot, or plucking out your eye is the opposite of healing, yet Jesus recommends doing so if it would secure your place in heaven for eternity. What does it matter if a person is healed and later spends eternity in hell? Again I remind you that we are talking about the focus of our lives as Christians and where our hearts and affections are directed.
Jesus made it clear to His disciples that it is foolish not to make sure you are focused on the things of heaven, and that it is wise to make sure you are rich towards God and prepared for the eternal life :
“And He said to them, ‘Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.’ Then He spoke a parable to the, saying: ‘The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, “What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?” So he said, “I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods, and I will say to my soul, Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” But God said to him, “Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?” So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.’” Luke 12:15-21
In this same chapter 12 of Luke, it’s recorded that Jesus went on to tell His disciples that they should not worry about their life here on earth regarding what they should eat or their clothing, and not to seek after these things like those who are not a part of God’s covenant. He wraps up by saying this:
“But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell what you have and give alms (to the poor); provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately.” Luke 12:31-36
In contrast to this, there are Christians today who seek after the things of this life that would allow them to take ease and “eat, drink, and be merry”, instead of making sure they are walking in true faith with the fruit of true love in their lives, and making sure that they have riches in heaven. And I don’t believe that you can do both; you either have your heart set on the things for this life or the things for the next life.
I think the point here is that we could have everything that we ever wanted in this life. We could reach our goals in life and could have lived a very happy and fulfilling life here on earth. We could have a great family, with successful children and grandchildren, and be safe and comfortable. But if we are not prepared for eternity, what does it matter? Again, it is foolish to gain the whole world, but lose our soul. Jesus said it this way:
“Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.” Luke 17:33
It is extremely important where our hearts are focused, or what our Christian walk is focused on. Jesus came and sacrificed His life so that we might have eternal life with Him in heaven. This is the agreement, the promise, the pledge that has been made to us, and has been confirmed by the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Focus your life and actions on this promise and the living hope that is based on this promise and one day it will be a reality.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter: 1:3-5