Jesus the Mediator
Last week we saw that God intends for the church to be the agency of good for society. We saw that God wants us to be praying for all people and that we live ultimately for God’s pleasure.
And so, this week in our passage we see Paul taking a step back and giving us a clear vision of God, in and through the person and work of Jesus to prove what Paul said last week that God desires all types of people and to confirm not only God’s purpose but Paul’s mission. And so that’s what Paul does here in this passage. The sermon title this morning is “Jesus the Mediator.” We will see how Jesus is our mediator, and what that means for us.
1 Timothy 2:5 “There is one God and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”
There is only one God and he has made himself known. He is the creator of everyone and everything and gives his creation meaning and purpose. Psalm 18:31 says, “For who is God, but the Lord?” And Isaiah 44:6 says, “Thus says the LORD… “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.”
God is not some distant deity that has set the world like a clock that he has wound up and just left alone. And I get it, it can seem like that sometimes, there is so much evil in the world and there is so much brokenness in our lives that it seems like God has left us stranded.
But this truth that there is a God and that he has given to us Jesus the mediator between God and humanity means that he hasn’t left us alone. God is intricately involved in your life whether you realize it or not. All throughout scripture we see a God who is invested in his creation, who cares about people, who sees and hears us.
If you’re here this morning and you feel like no one gets you, no one understands you, that no one sees the pain or struggle you're going through, know that God sees you. He hears you.
Every human heart is searching for something. Deep in the soul of humanity, there is this void that we try to fill. We are looking for that thing that will mediate and connect the divine to our mortal existence. Even if that’s not how people express themselves that’s what’s going on. We are looking for that end that will allow us to understand the meaning of who we are and why we exist. We are looking to belong, to be fully known, to find fulfillment and purpose because that was how we were created. Augustine, the African church father, once said that “our heart is restless, until it finds its rest in you.”
Twice in 1 John it says that “God is love”. In all his triune fullness, the essence of what God is, is love.
In John 14, Jesus was telling his followers about God and he made the claim that, no one goes to God the Father except through Jesus. Jesus said he was the only way saying “I am the way, the truth and the life” And the disciples were trying to understand, they were trying to grasp the implications of what Jesus was saying and so one of his disciples, Phillip, tells Jesus, “show us the Father and it will be enough for us.” He basically says “Jesus, show us God and then we’ll believe.”
This is how Jesus responds. John 14:9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”
So, if God is love, and if Jesus is God, who became a man then the actual essence of love became human in the person of Jesus.
And so, Jesus shows us exactly what God is like. Jesus out of great love became our great Mediator.
A mediator is someone who bridges the gap between people, someone who reconciles conflict in a relationship.
There are many ways that Jesus is the only mediator between God and people, and we can’t go through all of them but the main way that he is this mediator is what it says here in the beginning of v.6. He “gave himself as a ransom.”
Jesus, God the Son, is the mediator, who gave himself as a ransom to take us to God the Father.
Jesus also talked about this idea of his life as a ransom. In Matthew 20:28 and Mark 10:45, speaking of himself, Jesus says, “The son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
This concept of Jesus giving himself as a ransom has the idea of putting himself in our place, as a substitutionary sacrifice.
And so, this idea of giving himself as a ransom says something about us and something about Jesus.
For us, it implies that humanity’s relationship with God is broken. That we are under a debt that is impossible for us to get out of. And for Jesus, it implies that Jesus giving himself as a ransom was a supreme act of sacrifice for humanity, an intentional giving of himself to redeem people into fellowship with their Creator.
God the Son is the only mediator to God the Father and so he is the only one who bridged the infinite gap that was between God and people.
That infinite gap was brought about by human rebellion against the loving authority of God also known as sin. Humanity is stuck in this endless cycle of sin. Sin is both external and internal. It is an external action and also an internal soul condition. As an external action, sin is rejecting the commands of scripture. And as an internal condition of our soul, as one pastor puts it, it is the opposition to the Creator that crouches at the door of every human heart.
The way the apostle Paul puts it in the letter to the church in Rome specifically in ch.3 verses 9 and 23 is that “all people are under sin” and “all people have sinned”.
You are under sin whether you want to be or not or whether you believe it or not. You are under sin the same way you are under gravity. Sin is like gravity because even if you aren’t aware of it, it’s still there. And it doesn’t make a difference if you think gravity doesn’t apply to you.
So, you can pretend that gravity doesn’t apply to you, you can try to jump as high as you can to escape gravity’s grip, but it will still keep pulling you down. And our soul condition being “under sin” is the same way.
Our sin was so great that it took God dying as the only possible remedy. God the son took on the life of humanity as a person, that’s why Paul emphasizes his humanity at the end of v. 5 saying the man Christ Jesus. Jesus the one mediator lived the perfect life we couldn’t live and that no one else could have lived. No other human had been worthy and perfect to be our sacrifice and our ransom.
Moses, the esteemed prophet who was used mightily by God to do amazing things and is even called the mediator of the Old Covenant. There was one point where he tried to offer himself up to God for the sins of the people.
In Exodus 32, the Israelites built and worshipped a Golden Calf while Moses was on the mountain communing with God, and Moses comes down from the mountain and is shocked, and a lot of crazy stuff happens but he ends up telling the Israelites towards the end of ch.32 that he is going to try and atone for their sin, and so he goes back up Mt. Sinai and asks God to forgive their sin, and even to the point where he tells God to take his own life so that they might be forgiven. He literally tells God to blot out his name from the book of life. And God in a sense says “Moses, you can’t atone for the sins of people. God rejects the offer and just says ‘Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot out of my book.’”
Moses couldn’t take upon himself the sin of the people, he was only a man. He could not be the ransom that can forgive sin and redeem humanity. And yet on the cross, Jesus was treated as the one who sinned against God the Father and paid the debt that we could never pay. So, when we say he died, it wasn’t a tragedy. John 10:18 Jesus makes it clear, he says, “no one takes my life from me, I lay it down on my own.”
The Author of life chose death so that we can live. When he was on the cross, he died a brutal physical death. But that was nothing compared to the spiritual reality of being forsaken by God and absorbing the wrath and justice for us. Jesus took the consequences of sin, our sin, upon himself.
Isaiah 53:5–6 (NIV)
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
And yet he conquered death, the grave could not hold him. Death could not keep him, and the resurrection is the guarantee from God the Father that says I accept Jesus’ sacrifice, as the payment for sins, once and for all.
That is the Gospel. As we mentioned a few weeks ago, the Gospel in 3 words is Jesus saves sinners.
1 Peter 3:18 (ESV): “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God”
He took our sin and now by faith we can take his righteousness. The perfect life he lived is counted as ours when we put our trust in him. His death brought us life so that we can be reconciled in our relationship to our Father.
But not just us...
1Tim.2:6b-7 “...he gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
As pastor Jonathan said last week, God is the God of all people, no matter what your background is, what economic status you’re in, what job you have, what your personality type is, what country you’re from, or what color you are.
So, this message of God ransoming people from all peoples and nations was a message that had been declared and had found its fulfillment at just the right time in Jesus. And that is why Paul says he was sent from God with this message.
Although God chose a specific people group, the Jewish people, to be His people, he didn’t plan on stopping there. And so, all throughout the Old Testament there are countless prophecies and declarations that he desires people from all nations and ethnicities.
And I think that’s why he also references the Gentiles, which means everybody else who is not Jewish, at the end of v.7. The Gospel is for Jewish people, and for every other people.
We see this in the beginning of the Bible. Abraham was told this in Genesis 22:18 - “In your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed…”
And Psalm 22:28
All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before you.
28 For kingship belongs to the Lord,
and he rules over the nations.
And Isaiah 49:6
“I will make you as a light for the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
And Mark 11:17
And he was teaching them and saying to them, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations'?"
And a picture of the glorious result of God’s promise in gathering the Nations to Himself is found in Revelation 5:9-10:
“For you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”
The rapper theologian Shai Linne, commenting on this passage says:
“Revelation 5:9–10 speaks loudly to God’s ultimate purpose in the gospel—a redeemed, ethnically diverse people worshiping him together for all eternity. Like the facets of a jewel, the glory of God shines all the more brightly as the light of his gospel is reflected through different vessels. Without ethnic diversity, we lose the ability to see God shine in particular ways.”
So, we see that the biblical drama of redemption focuses on repairing the relationship between God and all the peoples of the world.
But what is our role in all of this?
In 2 Corinthians at the end of ch.5 is one of many places that Paul gives us a summary of the message and the mission that we have been given.
2 Corinthians 5:18–21 (NLT): 18 “And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”
God has reconciled us and then given us a mission. As God’s representatives, we plead with people and show them that they too can come to God because of what Jesus has done.
Listen, last week's sermon was about “the good of society” and it’s important that we pray and do as much physical and societal good that we can. The church should be God’s agent for good in society. We should be fighting for the sanctity of life and fighting against racial injustice. And along with that, while we are doing those things, we are also seeking the ultimate good of real people being reconciled with the real God through Jesus.
People need to see that any good that is able to happen through us that it’s Jesus. In Acts chapter 4, the apostles Peter and John were on trial and there in front of these religious leaders and people who were in positions of authority. And they looked at Peter and John and it says they “perceived that they were uneducated, common men.” Basically, they thought to themselves there is nothing special about Peter and John, they are just regular dudes who don’t even have an education, and yet it says they were also astonished, because of the boldness that they had. And it says that the leaders “recognized that Peter and John had been with Jesus.
When we know, Jesus, when we really have been with Jesus, people are going to notice. My prayer is that we are people who have been so wrecked by God’s mercy that it will be visible to others through our words and through our actions. We should be people who want to extend the grace and love that Jesus extended to us, so that other people don’t know what to do with us, where the only way it makes sense, the only possible explanation for people is that “they say they know Jesus.”
It’s good to be respectable, God wants us for the most part to be well thought of by others but there comes a point where respectability bows to Jesus.
God shows no partiality. He is not like man, that he thinks much of impressive resumes, and a list of great accomplishments and credentials. He is not impressed where you’re from or who you know. That is not how the Kingdom works. The first will be last and the last will be first. Let us not be so impressed with what the world is impressed with. God uses ordinary people.
Jesus the Mediator wants to mediate his presence, power, and love through us, so that people can hear, and see and feel God’s love, no matter who they are or what their background is.
Live and show people the Mediator.
With all the sin and brokenness in the world and in our lives, it can be hard to see God in it all.
And we can be like that, even if we believe in God and trust in Jesus, our circumstances can cloud out the reality of who God is, and we lose sight of our Father.