The Jews believed that Michael, the archangel, was created for the specific task of being mediator between Israel and God. They also believed that Moses was “created” before the world to be the mediator of the covenant. Following this train of thought, there was nothing unusual in accepting Jesus as part of the original plan to redeem man. But that was not the case. Jesus faced much resistance to his efforts to introduce the new covenant.
- The word covenant was a common concept throughout Jewish history. However, in the old covenant, it seemed to heavily depend on the obedience of the law. Naturally, because of human tendency, people were continually breaking their relationship with God. How did the Cross re-shape the old covenant to be a “better” covenant? What were the advantages of the new over the old? Under the new covenant, is there a danger of the church taking grace for granted?
- Regardless of one’s earnest commitment to spiritual growth, sin continually interrupts the relationship between God and man. This was true before the Cross and continues to be true since the Cross. In what way does the Holy Spirit compensate for these interruptions? What can we do to empty ourselves to be filled by the Spirit? Do you think there is any other alternative besides the Holy Spirit? Explain.
- With both the old and the new covenants, there are mutual benefits to both parties. Considering the tendency of man to continually break his end of the bargain, why do you think that history shows God approaching man again and again to renew, modify, or change His covenant with man? What does this persistence of God tell us of His love for us?
- The old covenant was based on a written document (Exodus 24:1-8) while the new covenant is based on the power of the life-giving Spirit. The old covenant is external; the new is an eternal impression on the heart. The old could change behavior; the new changes attitude. Think of other ways the new is “better” than the old.
- Some people may say, “How do you know that access to God depends not on achievement or obedience but simply on accepting God’s love?” What examples could you use from your own life to answer their question? How important are our life stories in the actualization of the new covenant? In the eternal scheme of things?
- Why was it so hard for people to accept the new covenant when Jesus presented it originally? Is it easier or harder for people to accept it today? Explain.