Jesus is at the Center: The Lamb is the Mediator – Part I

Our deepest need is to know God’s love and Jesus is the center of His love towards us. The transcendent Creator has focused all His love for us through the lens of His incarnate Son. The love of God in the Messiah is the lens through which the Father wants to be viewed. God was able to reveal the full extent of His love in Jesus by establishing Jesus as the one mediator between God and humanity.

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man [Messiah] Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5)

Israel’s Messiah is the mediator (mesites) for God and for humanity, but what does a mediator do? Thayer’s Greek Lexicon describes the role: “every mediator, whoever acts as mediator … does not belong to one party but to two or more.” A mediator is someone who stands “between litigating or covenanting parties.”

Jesus mediates: We understand God through Jesus. We see God through Him. God comprehends us through Jesus. God sees us through Him.

We receive God through Jesus, and God receives us through Jesus. God offers Himself to us in Jesus, we offer ourselves to God in Jesus.

… God was in [the Messiah] reconciling the world to Himself… (2 Corinthians 5:9b)

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:2)

Sometimes it is helpful to look at the background of how a word is used in the New Testament by checking the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures). The only place I find the word (mesites) for “mediator” in the Septuagint is Job 9:33. I find it interesting that, as in 1 Timothy 2:5, the context is mediation between a man (Job) and God.

For he is not a man, as I am, that I might answer him, that we should come to trial together. There is no arbiter between us, who might lay his hand on us both. (Job 9:32,33)

Job, unaware of any personal unrighteousness that warranted judgment, could not take refuge in any rationalizations. He was deprived of the closure that consoled Jeremiah when the prophet experienced what he foretold: Jerusalem’s desolation. The prophet’s lament circumspectly contained a challenging remedy for humanity’s protests against life:

Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins? Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the LORD! (Lamentations 3:39-40)

Job, on the other hand, was unaware of any hope that He and God could be truly reconciled. He was convinced that he had nothing to repent of, so he could not “return.” And, in fact, it seems that God never ever answers Job’s arguments. Instead, God interrogates Job. From Job 38-41 there are sixty-three question marks indicating at least sixty-three questions. The questions sound a little like this:

Who are you? Where were you?

Can you do this, and do you know how I did it? Have you done that?

Where does this come from? Who did it?

Do you know this? Can you lift this? Can you cause that?

Do you make this happen? Can you make that happen?

Will you condemn Me?

This ends up communicating something like,

Look, I’m GOD, you’re not.

I created, you didn’t.

What do you really know?

What do you have to say for yourself?

And Job hushes himself in the light of the Creator’s self-revelation. In the light of these questions, the initial interaction between God and Job begins. Let’s eavesdrop:

And the LORD said to Job: “Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.”

Then Job answered the LORD and said: “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further.” (Job 40:1-5)

This result is similar to the upbraiding of human hubris found in Romans:

But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? (Romans 9:20a)

Now, what God spoke to Job may be an excellent way to get a creature to recognize his own limitations, his presumption, and to impart a fearful appreciation for the Creator’s power, knowledge, wisdom and glory. But seriously, is this how to provoke, or instruct, someone to fulfill the primary command?

Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ (Mark 12:29-30)

God is not into the “Stockholm syndrome” wherein a victim adapts to captivity and abuse by falling in love with hostage takers. God is not like that. Instead, He calls us to a relationship with Himself by displaying the Lord Jesus, His Mediator.

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10)

Despite the severity of his circumstances Job is typical of aspects of humankind’s common condition. In contrast to that sufferer we have an “arbiter.” God and humanity share the same mediator, Jesus. He has laid his hands on us both (Job 9:33).

David Harwood

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