The central message of the book of Hebrews is that Jesus Christ is better. As incredible and prominent as the angels were in the Old Testament, Jesus is an even better mouthpiece than they were. As heroic and revered as Moses was, Jesus is even better as a leader, and He is far superior to save. As esteemed and significant Melchizedek was as high priest, Jesus is an even better intermediary, because He is perfect and permanent and Melchizedek was not. We have “this kind of high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.” Our Savior Jesus Christ is seated in the heavens next to the throne of the King of Kings with full access to the God of the universe. Does it get any better than that? It does!
While the fact that Jesus is the best intermediary is a great thing, it becomes even greater when we consider that the arrival of Jesus means that the original covenant between God and His people is now a thing of the past. The old covenant (or agreement) that God had with the Jews was flawed and imperfect because it was dependent on flawed and imperfect humans, who couldn’t possibly uphold every one of the 613 Old Testament commands. Not only that, the old covenant was always meant to be temporary. For these reasons, Jesus represents a far better covenant. According to the letter of Hebrews He introduces a superior ministry, mediates a better covenant, and authors better promises. By living a life of perfect obedience to His Father in Heaven, Jesus ushered in a new covenant that is superior in every way to the old one. This new covenant is a permanent one, because the One who authored it is eternally enthroned in Heaven.
To demonstrate this, the author of Hebrews cites (in full!) God’s promise from Jeremiah 31. “The days are coming when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.” This ancient promise has been fulfilled through Jesus. The old, flawed covenant has been replaced by a better, sufficient one. According to Jeremiah, this new covenant is better because God Himself is the agent of the covenant, in the form of Jesus. He Himself will speak directly to the minds and hearts of His people. He Himself will be the one to teach His people. He will provide permanent forgiveness. How is this all possible? Because Jesus is better.
The days are coming when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.
Old Testament References
- Exodus 25:40
- Jeremiah 9:23-24
- Jeremiah 31:31-34
- Matthew 5:17-20
- John 17:3
- Galatians 3:20
- Consider Jesus, who has accomplished in full every single promise He’s ever made. Are you a person who keeps promises? What are some covenants you’ve made in your life? How have those turned out?
- How does it impact you knowing that you have direct access to Jesus, who sits at the right hand of the throne of God? How can you take full advantage of that access, through prayer and through the truth of God’s word?
- What are some of the “better promises” that have been authored by Jesus? Do you have a one that is especially impactful to you?
Identify a promise of Jesus from the Bible that holds great meaning in your life. Maybe you’re thankful for God’s faithfulness (1 John 1:9), or perhaps it’s His heart for the lost (1 Timothy 2:3-4) that impresses you most. Whatever promise you chose, write it down on a note card or in your phone and carry that truth with you every day for the next week. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to stop and read God’s promise at least once each day, with the goal of having the promise memorized by the end of the week.
[expand title=”Life Group Questions”]
- Take a few minutes to read aloud the Scripture from Hebrews 8:1-13. What truths about God can be understood from these passages? What observations can be made about people? What questions come to mind?
- What is religion? Has been your attitude toward religion been largely positive or negative?
- What is a covenant? Describe some of the Old Testament covenants that existed between God and His people. (Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses) Why is the new covenant that comes through Jesus superior to (and a sufficient fulfillment of) all of the covenants from the Old Testament?
- Read Hebrews 8:6. What are the “better promises” that we have in Christ? Are there ways you still cling to performance or duty in attempt to earn favor from God? Are you convinced that you are completely free because of what Christ has done for you?
- Who are some people you’d like to invite to be part of (or grafted into) the family of God? Take some time to pray for them.