THE GREAT SHEPHERD #6 THROUGH THE BLOOD OF THE COVENANT
"Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant" (Hebrews 13:20) The "great Shepherd of the sheep" operates "through the blood of the everlasting covenant." He shepherds with God's "eternal purpose" in mind, applying the appointed means of reconciliation and recovery. Jesus does not shepherd the flock with the family structure in mind. The condition and potential of a nation does not dictate how Jesus shepherds the flock. Nor, indeed, does the imposed agenda of religious professionals determine where and how He leads. It is the "everlasting covenant" that undergirds the divine work. Our text states that God brought Jesus back from the dead "through," or "by the blood of the eternal covenant" (NASB). The language declares that Christ's vicarious, or substitutionary, death ratified the covenant made in Christ before the world began. The blood of Christ, or the forfeiture of His life, freed God to bless humanity copiously upon the basis of Christ's atoning sacrifice. In words that the Holy Spirit teaches, "Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water" (Heb 10:19-22). The "living way" is the new covenant, inaugurated and ratified by the blood of Jesus Christ. The effectiveness of that ratification is confirmed every time we draw near to God through our great Priest and Shepherd. The way has been opened to God, and the Shepherd will bring us there with joy. Jesus now shepherds the "flock of God" in strict accordance with the new covenant. He leads them into a place where the law can be written upon their hearts and placed into their minds. He leads where they can come to know the Lord, from the least to the greatest. He leads into the experiential remission of sins, where God remembers transgressions no more. These are the elements of the new covenant, and the "Great Shepherd of the sheep" brings us into a personal experience of them (Jer 31:31-34; Heb 8:8-13; 10:16). Preachers and teachers must make it their business to make people conscious of the glories of the new covenant. Too much of the religion of our day has little, if anything, to do with the "everlasting covenant." Jesus shepherds the "flock of God" in a manner that fulfills every aspect of the new covenant. That covenant was introduced in Eden, and elaborated to Abraham. It is a covenant of spiritual blessing. It is encapsulated in the Gospel, which was first preached to Abraham. "The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: All nations will be blessed through you" (Gal 3:8). Jesus' blood ratified that covenant of blessing, allowing God to be "Just and the Justifier of him that believeth in Jesus" (Rom 3:26).
-- TOMORROW: PERFECTION IN EVERY GOOD WORK --