Christ Our Mediator

Cross at sunset

One of the ways that Jesus is described in the New Testament is as a mediator. Paul wrote, “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). It is important that we understand what this means. Let us consider what the New Testament teaches about Jesus as our mediator.

What Is a Mediator?

The word translated mediator means “a go-between” (Vine’s). It is used two ways in the New Testament:

  1. One who mediates between two parties to produce peace – Paul identified the two parties as “God and men” (1 Timothy 2:5).
  2. One who acts as a guarantee to secure something that would otherwise not be obtained – In this case, what Jesus secured were the terms of the new covenant. “For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance” (Hebrews 9:15).

So as it is described in the New Testament, what does the role of mediator entail? A mediator is one who brings two parties together to secure a covenant between them. This is what Christ has done for us.

Jesus’ Qualifications to Be Our Mediator

Paul said there is “one mediator…the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). Jesus was the only one who could fulfill this role. He was qualified because he shared characteristics of both parties.

The deity of Jesus – John began his gospel with this statement about Jesus: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). While on earth, Jesus indicated that He was equal with the Father. When He said, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working,” the Jews correctly understood Him to be “making Himself equal with God” by “calling God His own Father” (John 5:17-18). Jesus said elsewhere, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). Paul told the Colossians, “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9), clearly indicating that Jesus was God in the flesh.

The humanity of Jesus – Paul emphasized this point by referring to Him as “the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). While “the Word was with God, and…was God” (John 1:1), Jesus also “became flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). He took on “the form of a bond-servant” and was “made in the likeness of men” and was “found in appearance as a man” (Philippians 2:7-8). Because He lived as one of us, we can have confidence in Him as our “high priest” because we know with certainty that He can “sympathize with our weaknesses” since He “has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

Jesus was qualified to serve as the mediator between God and men because He shared characteristics of both God and men.

What Jesus Did in His Work as Mediator

To understand what Jesus did in His work as mediator, we need to remember the two ways in which the term mediator is used in the New Testament:

  1. One who mediates between two parties to produce peace.
  2. One who acts as a guarantee to secure something that would otherwise not be obtained.

Jesus brought about peace between man and God through His death on the cross. In fulfilling the role as the “mediator,” Jesus “gave Himself as a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:5-6). The word ransom describes “what is given in exchange for another as the price of his redemption” (Thayer). This was what Jesus did when He died on the cross. Peter wrote, “Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-19). Paul explained that it was through Christ that the Father would “reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross…He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death…” (Colossians 1:20-22). The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, in which He offered His body and shed His blood, made reconciliation possible between God and men. This sacrifice was part of His work as our mediator because it allowed the two parties to be brought back together.

In His death, Jesus did more than just bring peace – He also ratified the conditions of peace (the covenant). The Hebrew writer said, “For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance” (Hebrews 9:15). The death of Jesus was a “necessity” for this because “a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives” (Hebrews 9:16-17). This new covenant was “enacted on better promises” (Hebrews 8:6) as we look forward to the reward of heaven.

The Benefits of Having Jesus as Our Mediator

As the work of a mediator involved two primary functions, there are two primary benefits for those who will submit themselves to the Lord’s covenant.

First, we have peace with God. Paul said that in Christ “we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses” (Ephesians 1:7). Our sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2), but the blood of Christ allows us to be reconciled to Him (Romans 5:9-10). Since we have peace with God, we also have access “to the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16) and the hope of salvation (1 Timothy 2:4-6).

Second, we have a covenant that has been guaranteed. We know what to do to be right with God through the gospel that has been revealed. Paul explained, “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith’” (Romans 1:17). The gospel shows us how to live by faith. Furthermore, we know that the terms of the gospel will not be changed. It has been given “once for all time” (Jude 3, NLT). Because this covenant is guaranteed, we have the hope of salvation. As the Hebrew writer explained, “It is impossible for God to lie”; therefore, we have “a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us” (Hebrews 6:18-20). The new covenant with its “better promises” (Hebrews 8:6) has been given. We can trust in God’s promises.

Conclusion

The bottom line is this – we have the hope of salvation because of Jesus’ work as our mediator. He brought about peace between man and God. He also guaranteed the covenant with its better promises. Knowing this, we need to be sure we submit to the terms of the covenant so that we can take advantage of the promises contained in it.


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