A PERFECT COVENANT by Gary Wilkerson

“Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17, ESV).

I’ve always wondered about one phrase in this verse: “He had to.” This passage refers to Jesus, of course. Why would Jesus have to do anything? He’s God. We read that He chose to come to earth, chose to heal, chose to love everyone around Him. So, why does this say He had to do what He did—becoming flesh and serving as a living sacrifice for our sins? Couldn’t He just as easily have declared from heaven, “I’ll send angels to bring redemption to humankind”? Here is one of the few instances in Scripture where the Lord is engaging in a commanded endeavor. Why?

We all know that under the New Covenant our sins are covered by Christ’s gift of grace. So, what is a covenant? It is an agreement between two or more parties where each is required to fulfill certain terms. There are many kinds of covenants, including a marriage covenant, where two people become one entity. Legal contracts are covenants for businesses when, for example, two owners merge their efforts so that both sides benefit. Peace treaties between nations are covenants, where warring sides agree to cease hostilities and benefit one another in other ways.

Throughout the Bible we see God making covenants with His people. In each case He says, “Here is what I’ll do on my end. And as you keep your end, here are the blessings and benefits that will come to you.” God has always kept His end of these covenants yet man has never been able to. He has continually failed to uphold His end in every covenant.

The Lord foresaw all this and from the very beginning He made plans to put into place a perfect covenant that could not be broken. He would enact a covenant like none before it, one with a unique provision: a surety that neither side would ever break the covenant.

He did it by making covenant not with man, but with a Man—Jesus. Many Christians think the New Covenant is exclusively an agreement between God and man but it is not— it is a covenant between the Father and His Son. Christ was who God chose to make this covenant with—not Adam, not Noah, not you, not me.

Jesus Himself is the guarantee that the covenant is being kept. Every other man would fail at this but Jesus keeps the covenant perfectly. That is our surety!