CHRIST OUR MEDIATOR

"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time”
(1 Timothy 2:5–6).

A mediator is a person who intervenes between two parties,—which are either at variance or separated for any reason,—for the sake of making reconciliation and fellowship.

Before the Fall of man, there was no need for a mediator between God and man since there was no variance between them though their distance in nature is very great. But after the Fall, man is alienated from God by his sin and subjected to God’s judicial wrath. A mediator became absolutely necessary. Christ was appointed the Mediator. Thus the Apostle Paul says: “there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Now, by referring to Christ as man, Paul is not denying that He is God, which he elsewhere affirms unreservedly (1 Tim 3:16; Rom 9:5; Col 2:9); rather he is emphasising the fact that the mediatorial office of Christ could only be effectively carried out if Christ is also a man, for otherwise, the infinite distance between God and man cannot be breached. The fact is that in order for Christ to be the mediator between God and man, He has to be fully God and fully man.

How is Christ a mediator? We can think of the necessity of a mediator in various situations in life. For examples, (1) a mediator-messenger is needed to bring the message of a king to his subjects in the way that his subjects can understand and appreciate it; (2) a mediator-advocate is needed to plead the cause of an offending party with the offended party, especially when the latter is of great significance, whereas the former is insignificant by comparison; and (3) a mediator-arbiter is needed to restore order by subjugating persuasion and execution of justice in such situations as a civil riot where the rioters have been led astray to rebel against the government.

In which of these situations is Christ a mediator between God and men? The answer is: All three! These three functions or meanings of the term “mediator,” in fact, correspond to the threefold mediatorial office of Christ, namely Prophet, Priest and King. All these three functions of Christ are clearly taught in the Scripture. For example, Moses speaks of Christ as a Prophet like unto himself (Deut 18:15, 18; cf. Acts 3:22; 7:37); David speaks of Christ as a Priest of the order of Melchizedek (Ps 110:4; cf. Heb 7:17; etc.); and Paul speaks of Christ as the “the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Tim 6:15; cf. Isa 9:6; Rev 17:14). In this article, we would like to discuss briefly this threefold office of Christ, that we be better acquainted with Christ our Lord, and appreciate the great work of mediation that He has done and is doing on our behalf to reconcile us to God.


Before we continue, however, we must bear in mind that these are not three offices, but three functions of the one indivisible office of the Mediator. This fact is important because while we may abstractly distinguish between the functions, in reality, each of the functions are inter-related and so qualifies each other. So when Christ teaches, He teaches as a royal and priestly Prophet (cf. Mt 7:29). When He intercedes on our behalf, He does so as a royal and prophetic Priest (cf. Zec 6:13). And when He subdues us and defeats His enemies, He does so as a priestly and prophetic King (Ps 110:1–4).


Christ Our Prophet

In a general sense, a prophet is a man appointed by God to speak on His behalf, and given authority to explain and interpret the message if necessary. We have an interesting allusion of what a prophet is when God appointed Aaron to be a mouthpiece of Moses (Ex 4:15–16; Ex 7:1–2). Moses was to appear to Pharaoh as a god (Pharaoh being polytheistic), whereas Aaron was to be his prophet. This probably explains why Pharaoh did not attempt to arrest Moses. But the point we want to highlight is God’s description of Aaron as a prophet: “He shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God” (Ex 4:16).

A prophet, in other words, is to be a herald of God. Foretelling of future events is only incidental.

We have already seen that the Scripture explicitly speaks of Christ as a Prophet like unto Moses. But what is the difference between Christ and the other prophets whom God has appointed, such as Elijah, Jeremiah, Isaiah, or even Moses himself?

The difference is that all the other prophets speak about Christ (Lk 24:27) whereas Christ speaks about Himself. Christ alone is God and Prophet at the same time. Moreover, all the other prophets received their message only through the “Spirit of Christ” who revealed to them concerning Him and the plan of redemption (1 Pet 1:11). Christ, in other words, is prophet par excellence.

Malachi tells us the Christ is “the messenger of the covenant” (Mal 3:1). He alone, among men, was present as a representative when the everlasting Covenant of Grace was made between the persons of the Godhead. He alone has original knowledge to tell us concerning the Covenant by which God condescends to grant men “any fruition of Him as their blessedness and reward” (WCF 7:1). In that sense, He alone has “the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:68). Not only so, but Christ declares that He alone knows and reveals the Father (Mt 11:27), for no finite man may know the Father, but Christ who is the God-Man. Thus the Apostle John calls Him “the Word” (Jn 1:1) and the “teacher come from God” (Jn 3:2).

How does Christ execute the office of a Prophet? From the Scriptures we see that He executes this office in two modes.

Firstly, He exercises His prophetic office immediately (1) through His own Person, such as when He was on earth preaching to His disciples and when He appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1–6); and (2) by being the light of the New Jerusalem, the church made perfect: “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof” (Rev 21:23).

Secondly, His prophetic office is exercised mediately (1) by inspiring His prophets and the human writers of the Scriptures through His Spirit (1 Pet 1:11; 2 Tim 3:16); (2) by illuminating our minds and hearts when we read the Scripture or hear His Word expounded: “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life” (1 Jn 5:20; cf. 1 Jn 2:20; 1 Cor 2:9–16); (3) through the officers of the Word whom He appoints in His Church, for “He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Eph 4:11–12).

Thank God for Christ our Prophet. Were it not for Him “revealing to the Church, in all ages, by His Spirit and Word, in divers ways of administration, the whole will of God” (WLC 43), neither we, nor anyone throughout the ages would know anything about God for our edification and salvation.

Christ Our Priest

While a prophet is God’s representative to men, a priest is a man who is qualified and authorised to represent men to God (cf. Ex 28:9, 12, 29) by offering up sacrifices and making prayers on their behalf. This office is described by the writer of Hebrews who speaks of his appointment and duty as well as his sympathy which enables him to intercede for his people:

For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity (Heb 5:1–2; cf. 5:7).

The priest, in other words, is essentially a mediator, admitted from among men to stand before God, firstly to offer propitiation by sacrifice for men, and secondly to make intercession for them.

This is what Christ, as the Great High Priest, does for His Church throughout the ages, for as the WSC 25 expresses beautifully: “Christ executeth the office of a priest, in his once offering up of himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, and reconcile us to God; and in making continual intercession for us” (emphasismine).

The writer of Hebrews tells us that this was one of the chief reasons why the Lord Jesus took on the nature of man rather than of angels, for only as man can He represent us as a merciful High Priest (Heb 2:16–17).

But how could Jesus be a priest when He is descended from Judah rather than Levi? The answer lies in the fact that He was anointed a priest in the order of Melchizedek, with an oath (Heb 5:6; 7:15–17; cf. Ps 110:4). By God’s design, the Melchizedek priesthood is already a higher priesthood than the Aaronic priesthood since Abraham, who was the ancestor of Levi, gave tithes to Melchizedek (see Hebrews 7:1–10). But more than that, Jesus’ priestly ministry is far superior to the ministry of the Aaronic priests.

Firstly, rather than offering animal sacrifices which are but shadows and types which cannot take away sins (Heb 10:4), Christ offered Himself (Heb 9:14, 28), thereby propitiating the wrath of God by vicariously taking the punishment for sin that is due us upon Himself, and reconciling us to God (Heb 2:17; Eph 2:16).

Christ, being the God-man, is the only one who may offer Himself in this manner, for only the blood of God (Acts 20:28) is sufficient to pay for sin against an infinite God, and besides, there can be true forgiveness of debt only if the aggrieved party suffers loss in Himself (Mt 18:23–27).

Moreover, by offering Himself, Christ fulfilled and gave meaning to all the Old Testament sacrifices (Col 2:17). It is only in this way that all the Old Testament sacrifices, which were made by faith, could be efficacious. In other words, even while the Aaronic priesthood was still functioning, Christ was the true Great High Priest of His people.

Secondly, unlike the Aaronic priests, the Lord continues ever to make intercession for us (Heb 7:24–25; 12:24a). Moreover, He does not intercede for us on earth as the Aaronic priest would have; rather, He is exalted to the right hand of God the Father, and He intercedes for us there (Rom 8:34).

What does He intercede for? As our Advocate, He pleads with God that on account of the merit of His death our sins may be pardoned; our consciences quieted and our souls preserved: “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 Jn 2:1). At the same time, Christ beautifies our prayers by removing all impurities and sin, and then presenting them to the Father and pleads that such as made in His name and in the will of God may be answered: “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (Jn 14:14). Moreover, the Spirit of Christ also “maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” by forming thoughts and desires within us which are consistent with the will of God (Rom 8:26–27).

Thank God that we have Christ as our Great High Priest, for through Him alone we may freely enter into the Holy of holies and “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:16).

Thank God that we need not any other priests. Pastors and elders are no priests, they are but appointed teachers and rulers in the church (Eph 4:11–12, etc.). We may indeed call them to pray for us (Jas 5:14–16), but it would greatly dishonour the name of Christ if, for whatever reason, we take them as priests to pray on our behalf when we remain prayerless.

The Aaronic priesthood has been abolished through fulfilment by the Antitype, Christ (Heb 10:1, 9, 18). Let no man therefore pretend to be a priest, whether in place of Christ or to mediate between man and Christ, for Christ is our only mediator and way between God and man (1 Tim 2:5; Jn 14:6); and He teaches us emphatically that we can and must come to Him directly (Mt 11:28; Jn 5:40; 7:37; Rev 22:17). All the priests of Rome and Eastern Orthodoxy are therefore antichrists (falsely standing in the place of Christ).

Christ Our King

A king is the ruler of a kingdom. Christ is such a king. His kingship was early prophesied in the OT, when Jacob blessed Judah by saying: “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be” (Gen 49:10). Shiloh refers to the one to whom tribute belongs, i.e., an Ultimate King. This prophecy was made a little more specific by Nathan the prophet in his delivery of God’s promise to David:

And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever (2 Sam 7:12–13; cf. Ps 2:7; Heb 1:5b; Isa 55:3; Acts 13:34).

David, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, recognises that this King who will sit on the throne is his Lord: “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies” (Ps 110:1–2).

Under the ministry of the writing prophets the prophecy of the coming King became more and more distinct. For example, Jeremiah calls Him “a righteous Branch” and “The LORD Our Righteousness” (Jer 23:5–6; cf. Acts 13:23). Isaiah is even more specific. He not only calls Him the Branch and Root of Jesse (Isa 11:1ff, 10; cf. Rom 15:12), but makes it clear that He is God, and to dwell among man, He would be born of a virgin: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isa 7:14; cf. Isa 9:6–7).

It is only when we come to the New Testament, however, that the kingship of Christ is unveiled completely and proclaimed openly. It becomes clear that His Kingdom is not an earthly, political one, but one in which His subjects are the elect or redeemed people of God (Mt 5:5–10; 6:33; 13:38; Lk 17:20; Jn 1:49; 3:3; 1 Cor 15:50; etc.). This does not mean that Christ is not rightly the King of His and their enemies. He is (Ps 110:2; 1 Tim 6:15), but His absolute dominion is not presently evident, and will one day become manifest (1 Cor 15:25; Phil 2:9–11; Rev 11:15; etc.).

In the meantime, Christ executes His kingship in three ways:

Firstly, He subdues us to Himself by making us willing to obey Him (Col 1:21; Ps 110:3; Acts 15:14–16). This, He does so by effectually calling us by His Word and Spirit and then working in our heart a disposition to yield to Him the obedience He requires (Phil 2:13; Eph 3:16–19; 2 Cor 3:3).

Secondly, He rules and defends us by giving us laws to guide and protect us (Isa 33:22; 32:1–2). And then, to implement these laws, He appoints officers in the Church not only to proclaim the law but to exercise Church discipline where necessary (Mt 16:19).

Thirdly, He currently restrains and finally puts down all who oppose us and Him, including Satan and the world (1 Cor 15:25; Ps 110). See also WLC 45.

Thank God that Christ is our King. Were it not for His subduing us with His Spirit of regeneration, we would still be in the bondage of sin and constantly falling for the deception of Satan to do his will. Were it not for Christ’s victory on our behalf at the Cross, Death would still have his sting and we should rightly fear death (Heb 2:15), and have no assurance that we will have final victory. But thanks be to God, we have victory in Christ our King. Let us therefore humbly submit to the rule of Christ through obeying His laws and His deputies in the Church, who are faithful to Christ our King.

Conclusion

The doctrine of the mediatorial offices of Christ is a very comforting doctrine for believers, if properly understood. Every believer is covenantally and spiritually united to Christ since we are federally represented by Christ and indwelt with the Spirit of Christ. (This is the basis of the union and communion of the saintscontra Rome which teaches that each member is united to the institution of the church, and through the church to Christ). Therefore we may individually say: “Christ is my Prophet, He teaches me the will of God concerning my salvation; Christ is my Priest, He died for me and intercedes for me; and Christ is my King, He delivered me from Satan and Sin, and rules over me.” What a great privilege and comfort it is to know there is no other mediator between God and me, but the Lord Jesus Christ who is very God and very man.

Moreover, through our union with Christ, every believer is also a prophet, a priest and a king. We are prophets in that through illumination of the Spirit we may know and proclaim the truth of God (1 Jn 2:20; Jn 16:13). We are priests in that we may both offer spiritual sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving with our lips unto God, as well as make intercession for others (1 Pet 2:5, 9; Heb 13:15; 1 Tim 2:1–2). We are kings not only because we will reign with Christ one day (2 Tim 2:12; Rev 1:6, and 5:10), but because the expansion and purity of the Church is committed to our trust (Acts 1:8; 1 Pet 3:15; Mt 18:15–17; 1 Jn 4:1; Jude 3; etc.).

Let us thank God for Christ our Mediator. And let us seek the Lord’s help that we may serve Him in the threefold office committed to us with fear and trembling mingled with joy and reliance upon Him who is our Prophet, Priest and King.


JJ Lim