By William S. Plumer, 1867
"Come, let us shout joyfully to the Lord, shout
CHRIST THE MEDIATOR
The word Mediator is not found in the English version of the Old Testament. There we find the word daysman in very much the same sense, Job 9:33. In that place the Septuagint version employs the word rendered in the New Testament mediator. A daysman was an umpire and a reconciler. In the New Testament the word mediator is found six times. Once it points to Moses: "The law was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator." Gal. 3:19. Moses was a messenger to make known God's will to Israel, and to present the requests of the people to God. Once the word mediator is clearly used in a general sense, and refers to no particular person. "A mediator is not a mediator of one; but God is one." Gal. 3:20. The meaning of this verse is, doubtless, that a mediator cannot act where there are no parties, and that he must act for both parties. As God is one, he needed not to be reconciled to himself. Mediation comes in between God and those estranged from him. In all other cases, the word plainly refers to Christ. Thus he is said to be "The Mediator of a better covenant," and "The Mediator of the New Testament." Heb. 8:6; 9:15. In Heb. 12:24 we are said to have come "to Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant." We also have the word in 1 Tim. 2:5: "There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." Boston says, "Mediator properly signifies a midsman, that travels between two people who are at variance, to reconcile them." Owen says, "Christ's mediation consists in his being the middle person between God and us." In the Gaelic version, the word for mediator is "go-between."
Jesus Christ is Mediator not typically, but properly; not partially, but completely; not merely as a messenger from God to us, and as one presenting our requests to God; but as one who has removed all obstacles to friendly fellowship between God and man, and brings together in holy fellowship the offended Judge of all the earth and offending sinners.
The doctrine of mediation is no novelty. It has great antiquity. Job foresaw the day when the Redeemer should be manifest. Indeed, to Him gave all the prophets witness. Even some of the heathen had a faint idea of mediation. Plato says, "God does not mingle in familiar fellowship with mortals, but all fellowship and conversation with him are maintained by means of spirits." Ever since the fall, men have been afraid of the Divine presence. I find no Scripture for the opinion that, "although man had remained immaculately innocent, yet his condition would have been too mean for him to approach to God without a mediator." On the contrary, our first parents had delightful communion with the Lord God until they sinned against him. We know of nothing in the nature of God or of man to hinder their fellowship until iniquity separated between them. God's tender mercies are over all his works. He stoops to the basest worm. Infinite condescension is one of the glories of his nature.
Christ's mediation fairly presupposes man's sinfulness and alienation from God. Where there is no controversy, there is no room for mediation. If people are already at one, they need no reconciliation. If God loves and approves man's course and character, and if man loves and approves of God's ways, perfections and government, there is nothing to keep them from mutual delight. There is then no contest between them—nothing to be settled no room for mediation. Dick says: "The necessity of the mediation of Christ arises from the existence of sin, which, being contrary to the nature and will of God, renders those who have committed it obnoxious to his displeasure."
Where there are parties entirely alienated, another, the equal and friend of both, may interpose, and tender his kind offices, and do whatever he is able honorably to reconcile the contestants. A mediator is different from a petitioner. From his dignity, he has a right to be heard with respect and candor. By his divinity—Christ was equal with God; by his humanity—he was equal with man. He was so much the friend of God, that he was willing to die for the glory of divine justice. He was so much the friend of man, that he was willing to lay down his life for human redemption.
The doctrine of mediation is that which chiefly distinguishes genuine Christianity from a system of pure deism. Let us consider this subject:
I. The advantages of mediation, as a method of reconciling God and man, are many.
1. It is very humbling to man, the sinner, the wrong-doer. It says to him, You are unworthy and unfit to come into the presence of God. You can neither justify nor excuse your wicked conduct. You are rejected. God will not even transact with you in your own name. He utterly abhors all your works, all your pleas, all your merits. You are condemned. You are vile. "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly." Romans 5:6
2. A system of mediation is more honorable to God than any other mode of reconciliation could be. It shows that he is infinitely just and holy so that he cannot look upon sin, or have any close, friendly fellowship with sinners, except through a third party—one in whom he is well-pleased.
3. Mediation marks sin as very evil, deserving all the woes and wrath denounced against it. Though God is the Maker of our bodies and the Father of our spirits, yet so unspeakably does he detest sin and count it a horrible thing, that he refuses not only communion, but even conference, with the offender, except through the Son of his love.
4. A system of mediation marks sin as a public offence, demanding a public satisfaction and reparation. It is no private wrong that can be secretly repaired or adjusted. In accepting Christ as Mediator, every sinner confesses, before angels and men, that he has insulted and injured the government of God, and done what in him lay to disturb the order and harmony of the universe.
II. Let us consider Christ's FITNESS for the work of mediation.
1. His PERSON is wonderfully and admirably constituted.He is at once "God manifest in the flesh" and "the man Christ Jesus." 1 Tim. 3:16 and 2:5. As a daysman, he can lay his hand upon both God and us. He knows God's rights. He knows our sins. By his divine nature, he has zeal for the divine glory. By his human nature, he has sympathy with us. He has all that is perfect and infinite in God—and all that is amiable and excellent in man. He will not betray God's interest, because it is the glory of his Godhead. He will not betray our interest, because it is the crown of his manhood. He has the confidence of God, and of all holy men. He is in sympathy with Jehovah on the throne, and with man in his misery. He knows what God demands, and what man requires. God has no claims that Christ does not hold to be just. Man has no real needs that Christ is not ready to supply. From his very nature, he must vindicate the laws and government of God, and at the same time hold forth the cup of salvation to us poor sinners. He can so present our cause and nature to God, that he will not turn away from us with loathing. And he can so present to us the glorious perfections of God, as to show us their infinite amiability.
By his divine nature, it is no robbery for him to assert equality with God. God has never denied him anything: "Him the Father hears always." His claims to be heard are never questioned in heaven. For the honor of God he has poured out his blood, infinitely more precious than the blood of all the pious martyrs. And if man can be brought to hearken to terms of peace at all, surely it will be by Jesus Christ. He is so loving, he died so freely, he speaks so kindly, his grace is so rich, and his ways are so condescending—that if we will not hear him we will hear no one. By his human nature he is capable of suffering, and in his human nature he did actually suffer the penalty of the law; and being without sin himself, he was a spotless sacrifice to Divine justice. By his divine nature, which took the human into indissoluble union with itself, infinite merit attached to all Christ did and suffered. As the Father, by reason of Christ's holiness, found no fault in him; so we, by reason of his love and gentleness, are not repelled from him. There is no more approachable being in the universe than Jesus Christ. If God is his Father, we are his brethren. As man he suffered; as God he satisfied divine justice. His divinity gives unshaken stability to his mediation, as well as infinite worth to his humiliation.
2. Jesus Christ was CHOSEN of God to this very office.The Father calls him "my elect, in whom my soul delights." Isaiah 42:1. He is "chosen of God, and precious." 1 Pet. 2:4. Not by any arrogance, but by Divine appointment, he is the first-born among many brethren. All he said and all he did, was by the commandment of his Father: "As the Father gave me commandment, even so I do." John 14:31. Compare John 10:18. God never entrusted the work of mediation to another, though he appointed some men as types and shadows of Christ, who alone was to do this work. God is in Christ—God is in none but Christ—reconciling the world to himself. Christ is our peace.
3. To the full work of Mediator Jesus Christ not only brought ample qualifications and a divine commission, but he has met with entire acceptance from God.In every way possible God has declared his confidence in Christ, and his approval of his undertaking. Before his incarnation, in anticipation of what he was yet to do, God poured out his Spirit on many souls, granted them pardon, acceptance, and renewal, and at death received them to glory. When Christ was on earth, and before his death, God expressed his approval of him by a voice from heaven, by amazing miracles, and by leading some truly to love him, and to forsake all and follow him. God further expressed approval of Christ by raising him from the dead, by giving him a glorious admission into heaven, and a seat with himself on his throne. God has further and wondrously expressed approbation of Christ's mediation by making the preaching of Christ crucified the power of God unto salvation—the salvation of millions, many of whom were sunk in almost unparalleled guilt, and shame, and ignorance, and misery—until they heard and believed the gospel.
4. In suffering and dying for us, Jesus Christ needed not to subject himself to humiliation, but for a time.He lived on earth over thirty years. Thenceforward his whole person partakes of incomparable bliss. Since his ascension into heaven he has no pains, no sorrows, no bitterness of soul. His short conflict was followed by eternal triumph; his brief agony by eternal joy. The lower he sunk on earth, the higher he rises in glory. What a blessed truth is this! How could his people be happy if they thought he was still a sufferer?
Of course Christ is a far better mediator than Moses. 2 Cor. 3:9. The mediation of the former was temporary; that of the latter everlasting. This is the last dispensation. "There remains no more sacrifice for sins." We may not expect "the bringing in of a better hope." The mediation of Moses was typical; that of Christ was real. Moses laid many burdensome rites on the people; Christ appointed a very simple worship. The tendency of the law, through sin, was unto death; through faith the gospel gives life. Heb. 9:13, 14. The former was the ministration of death; the latter is the ministration of the Spirit. The mediation of Moses prepared men for the gospel; that of Christ prepares men for glory. Christ excels Moses in that he is the Mediator of a better covenant established upon better promises. Heb. 8:6. Christ is more kind and compassionate than Moses. Both refused a crown; but Jesus wore a crown of thorns and hung on the cross. Moses was a servant, but Jesus Christ was a Son. The authority and energy of Moses were both limited; but Jesus raised the dead and performed countless miracles in his own name, and all power in heaven and earth is given unto him. Moses did a good work—but Christ a far better work. The law was given by Moses; but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
III. Let us look at some of the great and happy EFFECTS of Christ's mediation.
1. Through it, and through it only, do we obtain correct and sufficient knowledge of the divine nature.Like Moses, godly men cry, "Show me your glory." Like the disciples; they say, "Show us the Father, and it suffices us." We do greatly desire to have before us some representation of God; and as all idols and images made or conceived by man are no representation of him, but a horrible dishonor to him, it is with delight that we find Christ the image of God, the express image of his person. 2 Cor. 4:4 Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3. So that now to know God, and Jesus Christ, whom he has sent, is eternal life. John 17:3. No man can see God's face and live. No man has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father—he has declared him. Now, if we would know what is the nature of God, let us look at it through the veil of Christ's flesh. Himself says: "I and my Father are one." "I am in the Father, and the Father in me;" and in yet stronger terms, "He who has seen me—has seen the Father."
2. It is only by and through the mediation of Christ that we can indulge any hope of reconciliation with God.We cannot answer for one of a thousand of our offences. We are justly condemned. God rightly counts us "reprobate silver." The single sin of not loving God with all our heart, and mind, and soul, and strength—is enough to blot out every hope of heaven. Our iniquities have risen up like the mountains between us and God. They are more than the hairs of our heads. And the guilt of every sin is greater than any man ever saw the guilt of any sin to be. Surely there is no hope left us that we shall ever see God's face in peace, unless it be by Christ's mediation. How sweet are his precious words: "I am the door!" "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father—but by me."
3. Through the mediation of Christ, and through it alone, are our hearts brought into such a state that we admire and delight in God.The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ. Christ promised to send that Spirit for the conversion and purification of men's hearts. So that now, "we who were once alienated and enemies in our mind by wicked works—he has reconciled." Col. 1:21. Christ's Spirit by the gospel slays our enmity. Thus Christ is "made unto us sanctification." By the cross of Christ we are crucified unto the world, and the world unto us. All grace, all saving virtue comes to us through the mediation of Christ. Owen says: "God communicates nothing in a way of grace unto any, but in and by the person of Christ as the mediator and head of the church." John 1:18."The head of every man is Christ, and the head of Christ is God." 1 Cor. 11:3.
4. Through the mediation of Christ, and not otherwise, can men be brought into the society and fellowship of angels.When the believer is exploring the counsels of love and the glories of redemption—as he goes deep into these unfathomable mines, he finds a bright cherub or a burning seraph in the same region of exulting inquiry, and, asking what they are doing here; he is told that they have divine permission to "look into these things." Angels hymned the birth of Christ. Angels rejoice at the conversion of sinners and the progress of Christ's kingdom. Though Christ is not the Savior of angels, yet by virtue of his great merit and dignity he has become Lord of angels. They serve and worship and obey him. They are his ministers. God has "set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but in that which is to come, and has put all things under his feet, and given him to be head over all things to the church." Eph. 1:20-22. Thus saints and angels constitute the one family named in heaven and earth. Thus "in the dispensation of the fullness of times" he shall "gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth." Eph. 1:10. The apostacy severed us from God and from one another. By creation angels belonged to another order of beings. The work of Christ brings us to love God and one another, and gives to angels and men a common Lord, the God-man, Jesus Christ.
5. The mediation of Christ, in an unparalleled manner, makes known the wisdom of God.That this is so is admitted by all holy men, who never cease to admire the wonderful plan of salvation. That this is so is declared in Scripture. Paul says the whole scheme and mystery of salvation is, "to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God." Eph. 3:10. The scheme of Christ's mediation, is God's chief work. As poet, painter, sculptor, and architect, Michael Angelo accomplished many admirable things; but above all the rest, his monument is St. Peter's at Rome. So God has filled the heavens and the earth; the sea and the dry land with wonders; but above all his other works the plan of salvation by Jesus Christ is God's monument, displaying his infinite skill and wisdom!
6. It is only through the mediation of Christ that the divine government has consistency, and the divine attributes have harmony—in the salvation of our race."A God all mercy—is a God unjust." A God all justice—could not forgive a sinner. In the cross we see infinite mercy and inflexible justice—kissing each other! Truth, which cannot swerve, here meets peace which cannot be broken. Righteousness, which is the stability of God's throne, by Christ's mediation issues in unparalleled blessings to the rebellious.
7. Through the mediation of Christ, and through it alone—can an enlightened conscience ever find relief.But the blood of the covenant can hush the perturbations of the most agonized soul. It gave peace to the penitent thief on the cross, and to the penitent murderers of Christ. It quieted the conscience of even Saul of Tarsus, when he relied upon it.
8. By the mediation of Christ, man recovers the communion with God, which was lost by the fall.This is a wonderful result; "Now in Christ Jesus you, who once were far off, are made near by the blood of Christ." Eph. 2:13. So that, with the last surviving apostle, all Christians may unite in the exultant exclamation, "Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." 1 John 1:3. Bringing man into the fellowship of angels was very glorious, but it was as nothing compared with his restoration to communion with God!
IV. Christ is SOLE Mediator.So says the Scripture: "There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men—the man Christ Jesus." One such Mediator is enough. The word of God speaks of no more. The necessities of man demand no more. By Scripture we are as clearly shut up to the faith of one Mediator, as to the belief of one God. If it is an offence to the heavenly Majesty to believe in many gods, it cannot be pleasing to the Most High that we should hold the doctrine of many mediators. We do shockingly insult the Lord Jesus Christ and his Father when we bring in a great rabble of mediators and intercessors. Christ only, and Christ alone—is worthy of the Daysman's crown. To mention another is theft and robbery. John 10:1.
V. We should greatly REJOICE in Christ, the one Mediator.
He is our life and our light. Let us make him our joy and our song. We cannot praise him too much. We shall never laud him enough. He is the admiration of all heaven. He ought to be the delights of the sons of men.
"Were the whole realm of nature mine,
VI. As Mediator, Christ holds and executes the offices of Prophet, Priest, and King.
This method of stating his work is not a human invention. It is clearly and often taught in the Scriptures. It is based in the nature of things. It is really a useful mode of presenting truth. Christ does the full work of a Mediator.
Controversies between two parties are of three kinds:
1. Such as are founded in mere mistake, both parties being innocent and honest, neither intending any harm. In this case, all that is needed is light and explanation. But God is not mistaken respecting us. He understands our case perfectly. He is not misinformed. He is under no misapprehensions respecting us. He has no prejudices against us. And although we are willingly mistaken respecting God in many particulars, and have wicked prejudices against him, it is because we hate the light; for when we know him, we glorify him not, nor like to retain him in our knowledge; our carnal mind is enmity against him. The controversy between God and us cannot be settled by mere explanation. Jehovah's conduct needs none; ours admits of none.
2. In the second kind of controversy, both parties are to be blamed—both have done wrong. In human strifes this is often the case. One wrong leads to another. Before adjustment, ofttimes, both parties are censurable. But God has done us good, and not evil, all our days. He has never wronged us. Even when he has afflicted us, he has punished us less than our iniquities deserved. He has brought no false accusation against us. He has mercifully spared us, when he might justly have cut us down. He has done all things well. We have destroyed ourselves. He is holy, just, and good. In this fearful controversy we cannot blame him.
3. The only other kind of controversy between two parties is, where all the blame is on one side. This is the character of our controversy with God. We have sinned against him, not he against us. We are all wrong; we are wholly wrong; we are terribly wrong. Our iniquities have separated between us and God. He is righteous; we are unjust. He is holy; we are vile. He can do without us: without him we are undone. Let us say all this, and confess the whole truth. Let us joyfully accept the mediation of Jesus Christ. This way of reconciliation is as safe for us as it is honorable to God. This is the only method of ending the fearful contest. Reject this, and nothing remains but an eternal overthrow.
And the sooner we make peace with God the better. There is no time to be lost. Now is the day of salvation. Awake, O sleeper, and call upon your God.
The responsibility of living under the gospel—is great in proportion to its incalculable advantages. Heb. 2:1-4; 10:28-30.