David Jeremiah - The Mediator
I'm David Jeremiah, welcoming you to "Turning Point". If you have ever participated in a mediation of any sort, where one person works to help two parties come to an agreeable solution when they disagree, then you are well prepared for today's message. Today's message is entitled, "The Mediator". "Mediator" is one of the words the Bible uses to describe Jesus Christ. Because of Christ, we now have peace with God. Without Jesus Christ's work as mediator, God and human beings would still be apart. I hope you'll join me as I explain why a mediator was needed and why only Christ could fill the role. It's here today on this edition of "Turning Point".
The word "mediator" comes from a word which literally means "a go-between". It is the actual word that was used by Job in the Old Testament. Remember when he was under so much pressure to sort out all that was going on in his life with this undeserved suffering? And he wanted to talk with God, but he couldn't get through to God. It seemed like he had no one to whom he could bring his case. And in the 9th chapter of the book of Job, he cries out, "Nor is there any mediator between us, who may lay his hand on us both". You want a visual picture of "mediator"? That's it, somebody who lays his hand on parties that are at odds with each other.
Now, for some of you here today, you may wonder what this has to do with our relationship with God. You may not believe that we have an issue with God, but let me explain something to you. God has an issue with us, and that issue is our sin. In fact, the Bible says that our sin has separated us from God. We have developed a contentious relationship of enmity with God. It's almost as if we raise our fist and say, "I will not have this God to rule over my life. I will do it myself". In writing to Timothy, Paul tells us that Jesus Christ is our mediator.
Listen to these words from 1 Timothy 2: "There is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as ransom for all, to be testified in due time". In Jesus Christ, we have a true mediator who can lay his hand on the Father and on us. He is the perfect mediator because, in Jesus Christ, we have all of the nature and attributes of God and all of the nature and attributes of man, apart from sin. Only by being possessed both of deity and humanity could Jesus Christ bridge the gap between where we are and where God is.
Without Jesus Christ, there is no hope of any of us ever having a relationship with a holy God, for God is perfect. His standards are perfect. As we have said so often over the years, he does not grade on the curve. He demands absolute holiness, and in none of us is that a possibility. Now, let's talk for just a moment about the reason for a mediator. We can best understand this by remembering that, in Ezekiel 18:4, "the soul that sins, it shall die". And Paul, writing to the Romans in the 6th chapter of his epistle, said, "For the wages of sin is death".
The only way a person could come to God was to have the penalty of this sin paid. Jesus's act of mediation was his death on the cross, and in that moment on the cross, he was able to solve the eternal problems that exists between God and men. First of all, he could satisfy the justice of a Holy God because he himself was without sin, the spotless Lamb of God. God may not accept us, but he accepts his own Son. He also could satisfy the fact that sin must be atoned for, so he went to the cross, and hanging between two thieves, he bore the penalty for all of our sin.
And people ask me all the time, "How could one man do that"? One man could not do that, but one God-man could because Jesus Christ was God in the flesh. Not only was his life infinite, but his death was infinite as well. So the justice of God was met. The sacrifice of sin was paid, and now God, in his love, can invite all those who will put their trust in Christ to spend eternity with him. Oh, by the way, the rest of that verse is "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord". People often wonder how Old Testament believers were saved since the Bible clearly says that the only way you can be saved is through Jesus Christ.
Acts 4:12, says there's only one way. Jesus said in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me". He didn't say, "No New Testament man". He said, "No man". The Bible teaches that no one can be saved apart from the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. So how do Old Testament believers become Old Testament believers? "By means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the First Covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance".
So let me give you the second point in the outline today, first of all, the reason for the mediator, and, secondly, the retroactivity of the mediator. That's a mouthful, but it's exactly the right word, the retroactivity of the mediator. Here's what it says. It says that people were saved in the Old Testament on the very same basis as believers are saved today by the finished work of Christ, which was retroactive to them at that particular time.
You say, "Well, that's an unheard-of thing". No, it is not. In fact, on Yom Kippur, on the Day of Atonement, there was retroactive forgiveness every year. What did the priest do when he went into the holy of holies? He sacrificed for the sins of ignorance of the people of Israel that had been committed the year before. His sacrifice was retroactive. In a very real sense, Old Testament believers were saved on credit. Everybody knows what credit is. Old Testament believers were saved on credit.
In fact, that's very interesting that, at the center of history is the cross, and that cross atoned for all of the sins and was the basis for all of the salvation of everyone who's ever been on this earth up until the cross, all of them anticipating, looking forward to offering sacrifices that were symbolic of and looking forward to the cross, but the penalty had not yet been paid. It was in anticipation of the penalty being paid.
Now, those of us who are Christians, we are saved, proactively. Did you know that? We're not saved retroactively. We're saved proactively. You say, "Well, what does that mean"? Well, that means that all of the sins that you have ever committed, ever will commit, are committing right now, all of those sins were paid for at the cross. Could I ask a question this morning? How many of you were alive when Jesus died on the cross? Anybody here? No, no, no, obviously not. That's a silly question. What that means is that all of the sacrifice for all of your sin and mine was paid for at the cross before we were ever born.
Before we could ever sin a sin, all of our sins are paid for, past, present, and future. The cross is at the center of redemption, paying for all the sins that were committed under the First Covenant as people expressed faith in God, and proactively paying for all of our sins, going forward. But how a many of you today would say with your pastor, "How grateful I am that I was born on this side of the cross"? Otherwise, our service this morning would look a bit different than it does. This mediator was a mediator of a covenant, not only the new one, but the old one. The reason for the mediator and the retroactivity of the mediator.
Now notice, thirdly, the requirement of the mediator. Verses 16 and 17, "For where there is a testament", it helps me a lot to insert a little word here. The word "testament" is the word we use for "will", for a will. "For where there is a will, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator", or the one who made the will. "For a will is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives". In these verses, we are told that a will is activated by the death of the one whose will it is. Without death, there are no benefits that accrue to the beneficiary.
Kent Hughes, one of my favorite writers, has written, "You may be the recipient of a fabulous will that includes millions of dollars, a luxurious apartment, season tickets to the hottest team in town, but it will do you no good unless the one who made the will dies". When Jesus died, that will was activated, going all the way back to the Old Covenant. The reason for the mediator and the retroactivity of it and the requirement of it, and notice, fourthly, the ritual of it.
In Hebrews 9:18-22, the writer of Hebrews goes back into the Old Testament covenant and gives us a little history. He says, "Therefore not even the First Covenant was dedicated without blood". In other words, "When Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself", the book of the covenant, "and all the people, saying, 'This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.'"
We treasure the blood of Christ because it is the symbol of the death of Christ. The blood itself is not the sacrifice. The blood of Christ is not the sacrifice. It is the symbol of his death, which is the sacrifice. If the blood had been the sacrifice in the Old Testament, they would have bled the animals, but they killed them. They did not just bleed them. They killed them because blood symbolizes death. "The soul that sinneth", it doesn't say, "The soul that sinneth, it shall bleed". It says, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die".
So in this whole picture, as gory as it seems to us, looking at it from our perspective, it was all about this truth that sin brings forth death. And the good news of the Gospel is you have a choice to make. You can either pay the sin penalty yourself, which you will, or you can let Jesus pay it for you and put your trust in him, and then you will never die. When you are born again, you don't have to die spiritually because you have accepted the penalty of Jesus Christ that is given in your behalf.
Now let's talk about the results of this mediator. The Bible says that this mediator that we have in Jesus Christ is so much better than anything that's ever come along beforehand. First of all, he provides a better righteousness. It says at the end of verse 23, there are better sacrifices. "The heavenly things themselves are better sacrifices". Through Jesus Christ, we have holiness. Through Jesus Christ, we have righteousness.
You say, "How do you get into heaven"? Well, let me give you a verse that puts it all together succinctly, and I want you to read this one with me from the screen. This is 2 Corinthians 5:21, "For he made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that was might become the righteousness of God in him". Have you ever heard of such a deal, such an exchange? The Lord Jesus, who knew no sin, takes our sin upon himself, and then gives to us his righteousness so that now we can be acceptable to God. So when I pray in Jesus's name, what I'm saying is "Lord, I don't have any standing before you in my own name. I pray to you, oh, God, in the name of Jesus, in whom I stand".
When I am accused before God, God does not look at me. He looks at Jesus, and the penalty has been paid. In Jesus Christ, we have a better righteousness, and in Jesus Christ, we have a better representation. Notice what it says in verse 24. It says that "He is in heaven now to appear in the presence of God for us". When the writer says that God appears in heaven in the presence of God, he uses the word which means "face". It means that Jesus is in heaven, face-to-face with the Father. And why is he there? To represent us. He is in heaven as our representative. Just as he represented us on the cross, now he is in heaven, representing us before God.
The Bible says he's not only our mediator, he's our advocate, he's our attorney. He represents us in all that we do and all that we need. In Jesus Christ, we have representation in heaven. And Romans 8:34, says it this way: "Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who makes intercession for us". Any time I am accused before God by the enemy, by Satan or his minions, here's the verse: "Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, who is risen, who is seated at the right hand of the Father, and who makes intercession for me". Who else do I need? I have God representing me before God. He provides a better remission.
Let me tell you what the better remission is all wrapped up in. It's wrapped up in one word. You know what that word is? It's the word "once". Say that with me, "once". The Bible is so wonderfully put together so as to bring emphasis where it needs to be brought. What was the word of the Old Testament? Many times, over and over again, sacrifice after sacrifice - what did I say? - over one million of them during the thousand years of the Old Covenant as opposed to once. And so we can never face our sin again if we have put our trust in Christ.
I read this week that, in a rural village, a doctor lived, who was noted both for his professional skill and his devotion to Christ. After his death, his books were examined, and several entries had written across them in red ink, "Forgiven, too poor to pay". Unfortunately, after his death, his wife was not of the same disposition as her husband, and she wanted to collect all this money, and she insisted that these debts be settled, and she filed a lawsuit before the proper court. When the case was being heard, the judge asked her "Is this your husband's handwriting in red"? And she replied that it was. Then said the judge, "Not a court in this land can touch those whom he has forgiven".
So here's the question: "Jesus, is this your handwriting in red that says, 'forgiven'"? There is not a one who could ever come and undo the forgiveness we have in him. And the fact that he died once is the proof of it. He did not have to die again because he died once for all. No more sacrifices. It's all over. The sin question has been settled. He provides for a better remission, and then he provides for a better return. And I just wanna bring this to you in closing. Hebrews 9:28, it says, "To those who eagerly wait for him, he will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation".
Let me tell you how this fits into the passage. In the Old Covenant on the Day of Atonement, the high priest would go into the outer court of the tabernacle, and he would go to the brazen altar, and he would offer a sacrifice for the sins of the people. Then he would move through the outer court, and he would go into the holy of holies, and he would disappear into the holy of holies for an entire day. No one knew what was going on. And, frankly, the people of Israel were very concerned about this because the high priest didn't get to make any mistakes while he was in there. Make one mistake, and it's over. You're history as a high priest. It's finished, that he would be struck dead.
So now watch this: He went into the outer court, and he offered himself for the sin of the people. Then he went into the holy of holies, and he ministered on behalf of the people for their sins committed in ignorance the year before. And outside of the tabernacle, the congregation of Israel gathered, hoping to see him when he came out. And, ultimately, after a period of time, he would walk out through the veil into the outer court, and the people would rejoice because the high priest had survived another Yom Kippur. He had gone through the holy place. He had offered the sacrifice. The sacrifice had been accepted, and he had returned to his own.
In like manner, it says in this passage, Jesus Christ is coming again, apart from sin. How many of you know that, when he came the first time, he came for sin? He was manifested in order to take away sins, says the Bible. He came into the outer court, which is our world, and he died on the cross for our sin, and then he summarily disappeared into the holy of holies, in heaven, and we haven't seen him physically since, but I am here to tell you, the Bible says he is coming again.
And for those who eagerly await him, we can be like the congregation in the outer court of the tabernacle, standing there with our hearts beating faster, breathlessly waiting for him to come again, and we will see him as he is. And just as the Old Testament Israelites were filled with joy when they saw the high priest, we will be filled with joy when our High Priest returns from his work in the heavens, where he's making intercession for us. He's our Mediator. We need no one but him. There is no one but him.
So I'm here to tell you today, if you don't know God, the only way you can know God is to know Jesus because Jesus is the only way you can get to him. He is the way, the truth, and the life, and Jesus has done what no one else could do. He took hold of God in heaven, took hold of sinful man down here and he brought us together on the cross, and there he mediated our differences, paying the penalty for all of our sin so that Almighty God can open his arms and welcome us and be faithful to who he is in his holiness. So today, if you don't know God, I wanna ask you, have you put your trust in Christ? That's what it means. Jesus Christ is the bridge you have to walk over to get to God. If you wanna be a Christian, you have to come by Jesus Christ.