And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” (Luke 22:19-20 ESV)
As Jesus shared the bread and the cup with his disciples, He established a new covenant. But what is a covenant? Truly, a lifetime could be spent researching the Jewish practice of covenants and the references to this throughout the Scriptures.
In Jewish culture, a covenant was a binding agreement in which the two parties essentially become one flesh, as in a marriage covenant. Individual rights are forfeited. The two now live for each other as one person. Jewish covenant was not entered into lightly because of the cost involved by both parties.
The covenant between Jonathan, the son of King Saul, and David is recorded in First Samuel.
As soon as he [David] had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. And David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him, so that Saul set him over the men of war. And this was good in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants. (1 Samuel 18:1-5 ESV)
There is much to be seen in this act of love between Jonathan and David. The knitting of their souls translated literally says “The soul of Jonathan bound itself to the soul of David.” The NIV renders this as “became one in spirit with”. It goes on to say that Jonathan loved David as his own soul.
The phrase “made a covenant” is literally “cut a covenant” and implies the mingling of their blood.
Jonathan further demonstrates his love for David as he gives David his royal robe. David is symbolically “putting on” Jonathan, with his identity and royalty now covering him. In essence, the two have become one person.
In giving David his armor and weapons, Jonathan pledges to protect David. Jonathan defended David, even before his own father. To attack either party in a covenant is to attack both parties, as they are now essentially one person.
This new relationship now means that they will no longer live for themselves, but that they will live for each other. There is a surrender of self-interest. Jonathan even gives up his right to be king!
The Apostle Paul writes in Galatians that we put on spiritual royal garments when we enter into the everlasting covenant of Jesus Christ:
for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. (Galatians 3:26-29 ESV)
In Philippians, Paul writes:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8 ESV)
Jesus Christ “put on” humanity so we could “put on” divinity. Jesus switched the robes!
Because Christ switched the robes, we can now fellowship with Him personally and spiritually as He now dwells in us. He has cut a covenant with us, becoming a blood brother with us before His Father. He has clothed us in royal robes and has given us a new identity!
As Paul wrote, let us put on the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus.