We move now to another important topic under the Doctrine of Christ which is the Office of Mediator. Next week, we will continue with the threefold office of Chris then the week after that we will end with the humiliation and exaltation of Christ. At this rate, we will possibly have the last sermon point properly synchronized with Easter Sunday where we will hear again the preaching about Christ’s resurrection.
But at this point, let us meditate and dwell on the topic of the Office of Mediator. Where can we find these terms from Scripture? How can we relate Scripture with Scripture and harmonize them? What is the key to interpreting the whole of Scripture? All these are importance points in reading and learning the verses we read from Scripture. It is also helpful to establish the doctrine set forth in Confessions. Our particular focus will relate to the Shorter Catechism Question 23 where it reads:
Question: What offices doth Christ execute as our Redeemer?
Answer: Christ, as our Redeemer, executes the offices of a prophet, of a priest, and of a king, both in his estate of humiliation and exaltation
Let us dive into Scripture and before we begin let us ask guidance from the Holy Spirit:
Holy Father, giver of all perfect gifts, we join the heavenly choir to herald the news that You have defeated the powers of sin, death, and condemnation by the victory of Jesus Christ, Your Son, over the grave. We confess that the circumstances of this present age often rise up to testify against the promise that You have declared in Your Word. Nevertheless, we bring the experience of our hearts under Your judgment. You have raised Jesus Christ from the dead as the firstfruits of the whole harvest at the last day. As in His resurrection You have brought the new creation into this passing evil age, by faith may we know in this life that we have been raised up with Christ and seated at Your right hand, and by sight may we know in the life to come the resurrection of our bodies. All of this we pray, with joy and thanksgiving, in Christ’s name. Amen.
The Office of the Mediator
Christ is the mediator of the new covenant. We can learn this directly from Hebrews 9:15 where Scripture reads, “Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.” Now, the thesis of the whole book of Hebrews we can summarize by stating: Christ is better. He is better than the Angels, Moses, the High Priest and etc and at this point of the book in Chapter 9, the preacher of Hebrews persuades us of the superiority of Christ’s mediatorial work as the High Priest of the Old Covenant being the once and for all sacrifice of himself to God as the propitiation of all our sins. This becomes the thematic relationship reformers apply to the whole of Scripture as the theology connecting the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.
Now, closely examining the verse itself, we can understand that the subject of the sentence designated with the pronoun “he” is the person holding the office of the mediator. We know he is a person because the treatment he receives as the subject of the sentence yet who is then is this person? Verse 11 says “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come…” This means Christ is the main subject of the whole pericope. We can affirm this from verse 12 when again it uses the pronoun he, and then also in verse 14 where blood of Christ is mentioned as the subject of the sacrifice made before God himself and not only in the temple. Again, Christ is the subject of these sentences.
Again, Christ is the mediator of the new covenant but what does a mediator do? This is where the office of the priest comes to mind, The previous section from Hebrews 9:1-10 deals with the work of the priest in the temple to mediate between God and his people. To mediate means to become a go-between. To perform a task on behalf of someone else. It is the function of the office of the high priest to offer blood sacrifices inside the Holy of holies and become mediator between God and the people of Israel. This is picture of Christ becoming the mediator in the new covenant. He holds the office of mediator and the appointed reconciler of God and man.
The thematic approach to the Office of the Mediator compels to relate other verses relate to this idea about mediation between God and man. And there is one verse from Paul in 1 Timothy 2:5 that reads, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.” Let us dwell on this verse and continue our interpretation of our current theme. The declaration from Paul is plain and clear: Christ Jesus is the mediator between God and men. The connection between Hebrews 9:15 and this verse clearly refers to the work of the Christ as the priest because of the mention of him being the ransom for all. This points to the common theme of propitiation. Therefore, it is proper for us to use these text to reinforce our point at Christ being the mediator of the new covenant.
Now some misinterpret this verse to justify wrong beliefs about Christ which I would like to address given we use it to establish the Office of the Mediator. The first misinterpretation comes from cults using this verse to insist the Jesus is only a man and not God and second comes from the Roman Catholics who object to the sole mediatorship of Christ and justify others like the saints and even Mary as valid co-mediators to God. Let us address them each.
First, cults point out to this verse to say that Jesus is only a man. Now the reading comes with this emphasis, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, THE MAN Christ Jesus.” Now, we do not question the interpretation that his verse points to the full humanity of Jesus. In fact, we use the same verse to establish this same point. However what we do not accept is the conclusion that Jesus is ONLY a man. Yes, Jesus is a man possessing true human nature but he is just a man because he is also truly divine who himself is a divine Person possessing the full nature of God. How did we arrive to this conclusion? It comes from the previous verses prior this verse. The whole context of chapters 1 and 2 is the warning of Paul against false teachers. This comes in relation to the emphasis of Paul with regard to his calling as an apostle and the importance of appoint leaders in every local church to guard them against false teachings from false teachers. Now to establish Paul’s apostolic authority he reinstate the gospel of Christ, his person and his work to save sinners and specifically 1 Timothy chapter 1 verses 15-17 where it reads, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” It is a long pericope but from it Paul addresses Christ as the Savior of sinners and Sanctifier and Giver of Life (verse 15-16) and then in 17 without changing the subject in reference of Christ, he listed these divines attributes: King of Ages, immortal, invisible, and only God. These are clearly divine qualities possess only by a divine Person and Paul made sure we read it first before 1 Timothy 2:5 where Christ Jesus is addressed as a man. This means that the person Christ Jesus is both divine (1 Timothy 1:17) and human (1 Timothy 2:5). This makes him as the sole mediator between God and men.
Second, Roman Catholics dismiss the importance of this verse in relation to the protestant hermeneutic asserting the sole mediatorship of Christ to the exclusion of the human mediators like saints and even Mary. Now given the extensive explanation above, the Christ as the God-man asserts the uniqueness of this person and occupy the high honor no man or even a women can ever satisfy. There is no other God-man except Christ. But is he the only mediator? We confess the affirmative. Why? With the plain reading of the text we can reasonably conclude that the uniqueness of the mediator is established by the comparison between the one God and one mediator sentence construction of Paul in this text. The emphasis of this verse is on the word “one”. This adjective was repeated twice in the text to highlight it importance. It is not obvious in the construction of English translation but this literally translates when the word order is preserved as “One for God [there is], one then mediator of God and of men, man Christ Jesus”. I know it sounded like Yoda speaking from Star wars but I think here the emphasis on the adjective “one” is clear. So just as God is one, we can also say the mediator is also one. Now, we can either assume the first word God there refers to the Godhead or even exclusively to the person of God the Father but the conclusion remains the same: the mediator is also still one, not two, not many but only one. This makes no room for any human mediator of sort.
This leads us to further probe the title Christ. In these two verse we’ve examined, the mediator is Christ. What does this title mean? Again, Christ is not the surname of Jesus. As we read from 1 Timothy 2:5, Christ was written in front of Jesus’ name and then in Hebrews 9, Christ is the proper noun used as the subject. This means the title Christ bears a significance to the office of the mediator. Christ in Greek means the “Anointed One”. It is the equivalent to the Hebrew word “Messiah”. Now next week we will focus our mind on the meaning of the term “anointed” in reference to the three offices of Christ as prophet, priest, and king but for our purpose for today preaching, let it suffice for us now to say that this term “Messiah”. He is promised redeemer and savior of God’s people whom God sends to deliver his people. This is the self-proclaimed vocation Jesus himself revealed to his disciple when he said, “And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ (Messiah) should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” The title “the Christ” when Jesus spoke about himself points to vocation he receives from his Father. He is the Messiah sent by God to save his people by humiliation and exaltation (We will talk about this as our third sermon point). Then the title Christ as the Messiah who was given by God revealed by Jesus himself as the final prophet from God giving us the key to interpreting the whole of Scripture (Moses and all the Prophets). (We will explain the threefold office of Christ in our second sermon point).
This proclamation about the Christ of Scripture returns us back to the first verse we examined at the beginning of this first sermon point. The gospel or the person and work of Christ is the key hermeneutic or interpretation when we are trying to understand the whole counsel of God from Genesis to Revelation, from Old Testament to New, from the first covenant and the new covenant we read from Hebrews 9. This means that we have in Scripture a thematic view of covenants. Christ is the mediator of the NEW covenant and it is new in relation to the first covenant under the law with Moses and in a sense covenant of works under Adam. Examination of each texts we reviewed and the relationship they contain with one another brings us to the thematic framework of biblical covenants. There is nothing imposed here but simply an organic relationship between the parts to the whole then the whole to its parts. Covenant is both biblical and theological.
Again, Christ is mediator of the new covenant. He is the sole mediator between God and men. Christ is the messiah who is the redeemer and savior of God’s people.
Now, let me end the preaching with some important emphasis which we can have as key take-aways.
First, Scripture is our final authority on all matters about faith and practice. Our confessional standards are only secondary to this ultimate authority and as demonstrated in our preaching this morning and even from our previous ones, these doctrines from the Shorter Catechism are saturated with Scripture. They stand on Scripture and can reasonably held as the true teachings from God.
Second, Reformed theology is Covenant theology and it is the most consistent reading of the whole counsel of God. Biblical covenants are organically rooted from the whole of Scripture and they are God’s story of redemption from first to last.
Third, as Christians we see Christ in Scripture as given for us by the Father, revealed to us by the Son, and illuminated in us by the Spirit. We preach Christ and him crucified. This is the Gospel of God. The gospel of the person and work of Christ.
Finally, Jesus Christ is the God-man. He is the perfect mediator between God and men. His person and work reconciles us to God, redeemed us from our sins, deliver us from death, and gave us eternal life. He is our complete Savior. Let us put our trust in Him.
ZCRC(Imus), Jesus is the Christ. His name teaches us that he is the anointed Savior of sinners. Indeed, God saves his people. His title clearly reveals to us the person and work of mediator who reconciles the holy God with sinful men like you and me. Let us continue to recognize the importance of the Office of the Mediator and affirm the dignity and uniqueness of the God-man Jesus Christ. Amen.
Rev. Lance Filio is a minister of the Word and Sacraments at Zion Cornerstone Reformed Church (Imus). He finished his Bachelor Degree in Electronics Engineering at Mapua Institute of Technology and He is currently taking his Master of Arts in Theological Studies (MATS) at MINTS. He lives in Taguig City, Philippines with his wife and three children.