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The Rector's Corner

The Covenant in Jesus' Blood

It is not hard to see that Jesus ministry, though miraculous and powerful, was focused on Jerusalem and a Cross that awaited Him there. Several Gospel passages refer to His miracles as almost incidental to His message of the Kingdom, and of who He is.

Today's minds find it easy to see Jesus as a martyr, someone whose ministry fatally embarrassed the religious hierarchy of the day, and who therefore ended up as the unfortunate victim of a kangaroo court. But Jesus was no victim. His death was no accident and it is the Cross that guided His steps all the way.

The Old Testament has two themes that explain His single minded purpose:

The first is the Covenant with Abraham. These days we make all kinds of covenants, and being people we find them relatively easy to abrogate, modify, or abandon. That is what courts are for. But God's covenant was not merely a treaty or a business agreement with God. It is what is known as a "Blood Covenant". In such a covenant the two parties become one flesh, related by blood: family. Such a covenant cannot be broken without the death of one of the parties. God's terminology makes it clear that Abraham was not to become merely a worshiper of a powerful and frequently capricious God, but fully a child of God with all the rights of access and inheritance of a first born son.

The other theme that connects the Cross to Jesus has to do with a Hebrew legal provision for a "blood Redeemer" or "kinsman Redeemer." If an Israelite got into legal trouble for nearly any reason, this individual could stand in for and take on the obligation owed.

The badly broken first (old) covenant, broken on our part and not God's, had a price. We being the guilty party (Israel) could go to our deaths in our sins. But there was another way. One who satisfied the criteria of a "kinsman redeemer" could pay the price on our behalf. That one would have to be a male of Israelite descent, related genealogically to us, a party to the original covenant, and one who was not himself in violation of that covenant.

Jesus was born to take this position. Not only was He an Israelite, but also the prime party to the original Covenant with Abraham. His ministry, though miraculous, was singularly focused on His role of Kinsman Redeemer, the One "Who comes in the Name of the Lord." The price He would pay was His own death, blameless and willingly given.

One can only guess how heavy a burden this was for Him to bear. Even as He rejoiced with His followers, healed the sick and taught with incredible authority from the scriptures, He knew that His ultimate purpose was to pay for and close the Covenant, so that New Covenant could begin. A Covenant of new life and new relationship, rather than Law. After all, members of a family are not bound by law, but by love. This is the truly amazing Good News of the Gospel.

What he offers in all this is a freedom of a sort that a broken world finds it hard to understand. But we, as the family of God in a New Covenant, in His blood, ought to be able to experience it, and even more to share and bear witness to it. We are not merely inviting people to church, though that is a pretty good thing by itself, but we are inviting others into a family, bought and paid for, no strings attached.

Pretty good thought as we near the holidays, none of which would even exist if it were not for the Cross.

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