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The Blood of the Covenant


And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.”

—Luke 22:20


[I]t is alleged by some interpreters that the language only implies, “this cup is the new religion in my blood, or that by which I seal the new religion.” It is held by not a few averse to the vicarious sacrifice, that Jesus simply meant to say that He died in confirmation of His doctrine. These are all shallow interpretations, and are utterly defective and faulty. They ignore the great idea contained in the Saviour’s words; which intimate, with all the perspicuity with which language can say it, that His blood was shed really, and not typically, to expiate sin; and that the new covenant was based on His death, or, in other words, causally connected with it. The covenant was founded, then, with all its provisions, in Christ’s atoning blood. The blood of Christ is the fundamental condition on which it rests. And they who take the emblems into their hands at the Supper do not view Him as a martyr merely, or as dying simply to confirm His message. They recall the great fact that Christ’s atoning blood was offered, not in a vague, general, abstract way, but specially and vicariously for them; and that they become in consequence a covenant people or peculiar people.

Thus Christ’s blood is the blood of the covenant, not simply as it attests or confirms the truth of the Gospel, but as it has an atoning character; and the idea is not that Jesus died to confirm to us the truth of the promises, or to seal them, or to ratify them. Moses did not sprinkle the blood to ratify the promises, but to cleanse the people by his atonements. And the disciples, in like manner, hearing of a new covenant founded and set up by the shedding of blood, naturally and necessarily reverted to the erection of the Sinai covenant. Christ was the mediator of the new covenant in a higher sense than Moses was or could be in that covenant which was but typical and transitory; and yet the typical mediatorship was all based on the blood of the covenant (Ex. xxiv. 6). These shallow comments on the new covenant are faulty in two respects. They would make the words convey no more than an allusion to a new way or method of procedure which God introduced among men by Jesus Christ, without any objective ground or basis on which it can be seen to rest. They all tend, too, in a legal or semi-legal way, to throw men back upon themselves and upon their own resources, will, or strength, instead of leading them away from self-dependence. For if the human heart does not lean on Christ’s propitiation, it inevitably falls back, in some phase of it, upon self-dependence. Certainly it is but mediaeval mysticism at the best without liberty.

—George Smeaton, Christ’s Doctrine of the Atonement (Banner of Truth, 2009), 219–220 (emphasis added).

Posted 2018·05·23 by David Kjos
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