Lecture on Jesus Christ, the Mediator

Jesus Christ, The Mediator

Outlined Exposition of the Doctrine.

The Biblical Necessity of Mediation: The Effect of Adam’s Fall

The Biblical Pattern of Mediation: YHWH, Moses, and Israel

General Qualifications for Mediation: Humanity, Sinlessness, Deity

The Three Offices of the Mediator: King, Prophet, Priest

The Consequences of Knowing the Mediator Applied

Introduction.

There is no more fundamental doctrine that any Christian must subscribe to than the doctrine of the Mediator, the person and work of the Redeemer.  It is that doctrine which touches the soul in its deepest pains, wanderings, and searchings, “There is no arbiter between us,” Job wonders, “who might lay his hand on both of us,” that is, man and God (Job 9:33).  And yet, it is that doctrine which causes us to sing.  So Paul in Philippians 2:6-11, and again, in Colossians 1:14-23.  In 1746, Charles Wesley penned, “Rejoice the Savior Reigns,” to commemorate the Mediatorial glory of Christ.  And more recently, we sing with great emotion that song which sets us “Before the Throne of God Above.”  But it also touches our minds, it produces our doctrine of salvation, as Christ is the Mediator of the New Covenant; and in reality, if we are to give due praise to Christ, His person and work make up our only boast before God and men.  Should we desire to learn and feel, to taste and see something of our great salvation, the doctrine of the Mediator is essential contemplation.  So we want to understand this doctrine which is fundamental to the Christian faith.

Confessional statement.

“THE MEDIATOR – Since Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, is fully God and fully man, He is the divinely appointed mediator between God and man.  Having taken upon Himself human nature, yet without sin, He perfectly fulfilled the law; suffered and died upon the cross for the salvation of sinners.  He was buried, rose again the third day, and ascended to His Father, at whose right hand He lives to make intercession for His people.  He will return again visibly and bodily.  He is the only Mediator, the Prophet, Priest, and King of the church, and Sovereign of the universe.”

The Biblical Necessity of Mediation: Adam’s Fall

Created to be in God’s Unmediated Presence

What we have written for us in Genesis 1-2 is the picture of man in the unmediated presence of God.  He has no need for mediation, no need to be reconciled to God.  God created everything good, man very good, and apparently He makes a habit of walking in the garden out and about His creation. In this Edenic environment, man is able to freely walk in communion with God.  So, for example, we read in Genesis 3:8 that, “(Adam and Eve) heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.”  I take it that this was pretty normal; and it is amazing isn’t it!  Adam and Eve had free communion with God; perfect fellowship with Him; no need for mediation.

Adam: King, Prophet, Priest

It is within this communion that God created Adam to be a prophet, priest, and king. Prophet: YHWH revealed His Word to Adam (Gen 2:16-17), and Adam was to obey it and make it known to his wife and to their children and their children’s children until the knowledge of YHWH covered the earth as the waters the sea.  Priest: Adam was also a priest in that he was created in original righteousness and holiness.  Because Adam was able to walk in the unmediated presence of God, his sacrifices as a priest didn’t have anything to do with sin or mediating the relationship between a holy God and an ungodly sinner.  His sacrifices were that of pure obedience, and praise (Heb 13:15).  King: And Adam was to be king.  Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.  And let them have dominion . . .,” and then again in 1:28, “And God blessed them.  And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of heaven and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’”  So Adam was to be God’s vicegerent expanding the boundaries of the Garden of Eden until it encompassed the whole earth.  The whole earth would be the dwelling place of God where mankind could exist in His unmediated presence.

This communion was dependent upon obedience to God’s Word.

Adam and Eve Cast Away from God’s Presence: Sin, Banishment, and Promised Mediator

But Adam and Eve sinned against the Lord and hid themselves. So we read again in Genesis 3:8, that while God was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, that upon hearing Him, Adam and Eve hid themselves from God’s presence, and from this point moving forward, all of Adam’s children are going to do likewise.  They are going to hide from God’s presence.

Moreover, God banishes them from His unmediated presence and casts them out of the garden-sanctuary. We read in Genesis 3:23, that in order to keep humanity from living forever in our fallen state, “the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.  He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.” Adam and Eve’s disobedience brought about our need for mediation.  If anyone would draw near to God, God and man must be reconciled, there must be One who will stand between the two parties as a representative of both.  This is precisely what the Mediator does: He is God’s representative to man, and He is man’s representative with God; He is the reconciler.

And God in His grace promises such a representative. Look with me at Genesis 3:15, “I will the put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”  Thus in the midst of judgment we see God’s mercy: a Mediator will be born of womanThere will be One who is able to represent man with God. What is still muddy is that this One will also be God with man.

Summary.

God (1) created us to have perfect fellowship with Him, acting as His prophets, priests, and kings until the whole earth was covered with His glory.  (2) When Adam sinned, we entered into our need for mediation.  We can no longer draw near to God on account of the depravity of our nature.  (3) Moreover, the offices that we were to display in our original state were confounded.  It is no longer natural for man to understand the Word of God and make it known, but rather to confuse, contradict, and disobey it, to speak and think falsely about God.  Humanity is no longer priestly by nature, we no longer offer up sacrifices of praise to God, and live lives of joy and holiness, but were cut off from God’s presence.  And, finally, man no longer rules the entirety of creation, but is suppressed by that very creation that he was to subdue. (4) One of the many splendor’s of God’s redemption in Christ is that these offices will be restored to man. (5) The rest of the Bible’s narrative from Genesis 3 to the end can be summed up as the anticipation, and revelation of the One who is able to reconcile God and humanity.  We will see this play itself out predominantly in the biblical history of Israel.

The Biblical Pattern of Mediation: Israel and the Pattern of the Heavenly Sanctuary

How Can a Holy God Dwell in the Midst of a Stiff-Necked People?

The greater portion of the first 5 books of the Bible are given as an answer to the question, “how can Israel live in the midst of a holy God? Or, how can a holy God dwell in the midst of a stiff-necked people?”  Turn with me if you will to the book of Exodus.  I want us to see three things in chapters 19:10-25, 20:18-21, and 24-31.

The first two highlight the need for mediation, while the latter portion addresses God’s appointment for a temporary mediation – it advances our understanding of how God intends to mediate His presence.

Exodus 19:10-25 – God warns that man will perish in His unmediated presence on account of the sinfulness of men.  Having redeemed Israel, God goes about establishing a law covenant with Israel that will stipulate a patterned place and method of approach to God.

Exodus 20:18-21 – The people do not want to be in God’s presence, lest they die; thus, there has to be mediation in order for God and Israel to coexist.  This is what Exodus 24-31 address.

Exodus 24:9-31:18 – God redeems Israel, establishes the Old Covenant, Moses sprinkles the people with blood, and then in these chapters, the place and process of mediation is described.  The floor plan for the tabernacle and its furniture is described.  (Draw the tabernacle) Watson.

In this context of mediation, 25:40 stands out prominently. “And see that you make them after the pattern for them, which is being shown you on the mountain.”  See also Exod 25:9; 26:30; 27:8.  Everything that Moses is writing down, everything that the Israelites are going to build and do in order to render it possible for God to dwell in the midst of an unholy people, is a pattern, a shadow of the true heavenly things.  This is the verse that the writer of Hebrews is going to quote (Heb 8:5) to demonstrate the temporary nature of this set up for mediation, and the faultiness of the people of the Old Covenant.  We’ll come back to this later.  But this does provide Israel with a temporary solution.  But the fact that this model was temporary from the beginning points us to a greater reality – the coming of the God-man who will eternally reconcile God and men (who embrace Christ). Still, this is the means by which God will dwell amongst the nation of Israel, “There (that is, the temple built after its pattern in heaven) I will meet with the people of Israel, and it shall be sanctified by my glory. . . . I will dwell aomng the people of Israel and will be their God.  And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them.  I am the Lord their God” (Exod 29:43, 45-46).  God will dwell with Israel, but it will be a mediated dwelling, quite different from that which Adam experienced in the garden.  Furthermore, it will be temporary, a law, a covenant, a mediation to be fulfilled, and surpassed by the Mediator, Jesus Christ.  Having fulfilled the Old Covenant, He will mediate the New Covenant.

The Goal of the OT is the Mediator presented most clearly in the New. When we come to the New Testament, we are looking to identify this Mediator – the One who will enter into heaven for us in order to make a perpetual intercession through His perfect and redemptive person and work.

General Qualifications for Mediation: Humanity, Sinlessness and Divinity.

Humanity: He must represent humanity with God.  Why Human?

First, The Mediator had to be like us in order to redeem us (Heb 2:14-18; Rom 8:1-4; Gal 4:4-7).   A slight exposition of Heb 2:14-18: That He might destroy death and the one with the power of death, Heb 2:14-15. To redeem and help us: the save us from sin and death, and encourage us in our temptation and weaknesses, Heb 2:17, 18. To propitiate or satisfy the wrath of God against believing humanity, Heb 2:17. That the Son of God became a man is an indicator of the pervasiveness of sin that He had to be made like us “in every respect,” for we had to be redeemed “in every respect.”  Louis Berkhof, in his systematic theology writes, “Sin affected the entire life of man and manifested  itself not only as ignorance, blindness, error, and untruthfulness; but also as unrighteousness, guilt, and moral pollution; and in addition to that as misery, death, and destruction.” (p. 357)  Thus, the Son had to become fully man, sharing flesh and blood in every way, yet without sin, that we might be redeemed in every way.

Secondly, The Mediator had to be something greater than a bull or a goat, for a bull or goat did not carry the same intrinsic value of a human being and therefore could not make an everlasting mediation (Heb 10:4).  In this way, it is evident that the Incarnation is fundamental to Christ’s priestly office (even as it is to His prophetic office, see below).

Thirdly, The Mediator had to reverse the curse which came through the man, Adam. Only the second Adam could accomplish this reversal (Rom 5).  If you’ll remember Genesis 3:15, the promise of God to Adam and Eve and to the serpent is that the serpent would be crushed, and the curse reversed by the offspring, seed, son of the woman – that is, by a human being.  The first Adam was a man, thus the second Adam was a man.

Fourthly, The Incarnation of the Son especially contributes to the more specific prophetic office of the Mediator. No one would know the Father or any thing pertaining to salvation were it not for the Son’s identification with humanity (Luke 10).  Thus the message of mediation is in the Gospel; the Gospel is the means of revealing the Mediator. Notes on Luke 10:21-24 connecting Incarnation to prophetic ministry of Mediator: The Son has been given all things by the Father (all things pertaining to salvation and cosmic restoration).  The Son knows the Father, Himself.  Add on to this that eternal life is defined as knowing the one true God and Jesus Christ whom the Father sent, and  v. 22 becomes alarming and amazing. Alarming: No one knows the Son or the Father.  No one!  No human being has any saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  Amazing: The Son chooses to make Himself known, and in so doing, He makes the Father known, and thus, the Way of salvation.  This is the consequence of God’s Son become a man.  In becoming a man, the Son of God reveals God to humanity.  And notice also that the wrath of God isn’t lashing out at anyone as God threatened it would on Mt. Sinai (Matt 5:2).  By virtue of putting on flesh, the presence of God is mediated amongst sinful humanity in the person of Jesus Christ.

Scripture evidences: That the Mediator was fully man: Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 7; Heb 2:14; Gal 4:4; 1 Tim 2:5, etc.

Sinlessness: The Sacrificial Requirement of God

Sinlessness was what the law demanded for sacrifices so that the Old Covenant might be fulfilled and the New Covenant ratified.

Rom 8:3-4: “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do.  By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

In other words, the problem with the Old Covenant is that it was enacted by God with sinful humanity – a group of people who could not uphold the requirement of it.  Thus, we need a man who could perfectly fulfill that Covenant, which is exactly what Jesus Christ did in living sinlessly.  He fulfilled the righteous requirement of the law, and therefore His sinless blood ratifies and opens up the New Covenant with all of its promises and benefits which are intrinsic to us so that we might obey the Lord from the heart.  But this could only happen once the Old Covenant had a man to fulfill it, which Christ did.  Therefore, he mediates the New Covenant.  He fulfilled the Old, and opened the New.

A sinful sacrifice could not have saved sinners from their sin.  Only a sinless sacrifice is acceptable to God. Only a sinless man can draw near to God on our behalf and represent us; if He had sinned, he would not have access to the throne room of God on our behalf.  Thus, the priest, in making atonement and intercession for the people of Israel, had to make atonement for his own sins before engaging in his holy employment.  But the Mediator had to be sinless, in order that He might offer a sacrifice once for all, and enact the better promises of the New Covenant.  As the blood of animals ratified the Old Covenant such that God identified Himself as Israel’s God, and Israel as His people; such that the promises of the Covenant might come upon the people, so the blood of the sinless man, Jesus, ratified the New Covenant, uniting God to His elect, and enacting the saving benefits of that Covenant within the heart of the believer.  Being sinless, Christ’s work on the cross is not repeated as if their were sins to be atoned for perpetually; but He made a complete atonement for sin such that there need be no more by Him or for the elect; and as He is sinless, so He was exalted to a perpetual intercession by which He keeps us for glory – He never leaves the true Most Holy Place!

Scripture evidences: That Jesus was sinless, Heb 2:18, 2 Cor 5:21, etc.

Deity: The Incorruptible Value of Divinity.

First, No mere creature could make atonement for the life of another creature, much less the greater body of all the elect. Two quotes:

Calvin: “For the same reason it was also imperative that he who was to become our Redeemer be true God and true man.  It was his task to swallow up death.  Who but Life could do this?  It was his task to conquer sin.  Who but very Righteousness could do this?  It was his task to rout the powers of world and air.  Who but a power higher than world and air could do this?  Now where does life or righteousness, or lordship and authority of heaven lie but with God alone?  Therefore our most merciful God, when he willed that we be redeemed, made himself our Redeemer in the person of his only-begotten Son.” (466)

Hodge: “The death of an eminently good man would outweigh the annihilation of a universe of insects.  So the humiliation, sufferings, and death of the eternal Son of God immeasurably transcended in worth and power the penalty which a world of sinners would have endured” (471).

If the Mediator were a man only, his sacrifice simply would not be valuable enough to free the sinner from the condemnation of God.  In Psalm 49:7-9, Korah sings, “Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, that he should live on forever and never see the pit.”  It is for this reason that the evangelical view of the Mediator is quite distinct from that of the Jehovah’s witnesses.  They esteem Jesus a man, and this is true as far as it goes, but they stop there and do not esteem Him fully God also.  This is the heresy of Arianism.  A creature, no matter how exalted he is above the rest of creation, cannot ransom another creature.  For if he is a creature, there was a time when he did not exist.  The Creator brought him into being.  Therefore, he is not eternal like God, and the value of his life cannot be eternal.  He may be the greatest of all creatures, but even that is infinitely less than being God.  In attempting to exalt Jesus, they actually degrade Him.  There is no doubt that the Mediator was a man (1 Tim 2:5); but there is no doubt that He was God as well, and that this must be if a man should be ransomed.  He needs the price of life that is able to satisfy God, not for one sinner but the whole body of the elect; by the life of God only, should a man’s life be ransomed and granted that life which itself is eternal.

Secondly, the atonement of Christ is once for all on account of the eternal value of His blood, Hebrews 10:12-14. Jesus does not enter the true Holy of Holies again and again to offer Himself over and over, but His sacrifice fully and finally satisfied the wrath of God against the elect.  Christ remains in the throne room, is seated on the throne, and lives perpetually to make intercession for us by the divine and eternal value of His blood.  There is no altar in the Holy of Holies, that is, He need not bleed again.  Furthermore, His intercession is guaranteed by the fact of His deity.  “His prayer is not the petition of the creature to the Creator, but the request of the Son to the Father. . . . as often as He asks, or declares that He will ask, anything of the Father, it is always . . . an asking . . . as upon equal terms” (Berkhof, ST, 405).

Scripture evidences:  That Jesus Christ is God: Isaiah 9:6; John 1:1; John 3:16; Luke 5:20-21; Rom 5:6-11; Heb 1:1-3; etc.

Summary of Requirements.

The Mediator who would reconcile God to believing humanity had to be fully man in order to redeem us in every way, and in every way reconcile us to God; He had to be sinless in order to fulfill the Old Covenant, and be a pleasing sacrifice to God, able to approach God on our behalf as a sinless representative man, and mediate the New Covenant; and He had to be fully God so that His sacrifice might be once for all, and powerful to the point whereby all those who believe are forever sanctified.  And the Scriptures bear witness to us that Jesus Christ is the only Mediator between God and man, 1 Timothy 2:5.

The Three Offices of the Mediator: Prophet, Priest, and King

Introductory Matters. Bavinck.

Eternal Mediator (Pact of Salvation). It appears that in eternity, there was a pact of salvation made within the Godhead, whereby it was agreed upon that the Son would be the Mediator who would purchase eternal salvation for the elect.  This pact was enacted in history at the moment of the fall of Adam and Eve.  Thus, as the Father has eternally been so with regard to His children; and the Spirit has eternally been the Comforter of the elect; so the Son has always been appointed Mediator for the elect.  It is for this reason that any of the sacrifices of the priests of Israel had any saving significance – insofar as the offerer looked with faith to the promised Messiah, Christ, Mediator.

The Three Offices of One Whole Person. “No single activity of Christ can be exclusively restricted to one office” (Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, 3:366).  For example, when Jesus speaks, His words reveal God to man, and thus point to His prophetic office; and those same words are spoken with divine authority, pointing to His kingly office.  His miracles are signs of his royal power, priestly compassion, and evidences of the truth and authority of His prophetic office.  “Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  He does not just perform prophetic, priestly, and kingly activities but is himself, in his whole person, prophet, priest, and king.  And everything he is, says, and does manifests that threefold dignity” (Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, 3:367).

The Three Offices Necessarily Distinct. Though it is not possible to separate the offices of Christ, it is necessary to distinguish them.  First, because it required a complete Savior to win salvation, for the effect of sin upon humanity rendered us ignorant, unholy, and servile to sin and Satan; and this is because the very essence of humanity, according to God’s original creation, carried within it the threefold distinction of prophet, priest, and king, as we have already seen with Adam.

King: The Sovereign Mediator and His Everlasting Government (Isaiah 9:6-9).

The Kingly Office of Christ is fundamental to His prophetic and priestly offices. When the offices of Christ are listed off, it follows the usual pattern of prophet, priest, and king.  A hierarchy is not intended.  However, in my estimation, Christ’s kingly office is fundamental to the other two offices of prophet and priest. First, there is no more basic presentation of Yahweh in the OT than that of King of kings and Lord of lords; nor is there any more basic presentation of the promised Messiah than that He is to be God’s designated King, through whom He would manifest His kingdom and accomplish His eschatological purposes.  As Adam was king until sin conquered him, so Christ is the King of kings by virtue of descent, deity, and triumph over sin, Gen 3:15; the scepter that arises out of Judah is Christ’s, Gen 49; Christ is the conquering king in Balaam’s oracles, Num 22-24; as the perfect law keeper, Christ is the Deuteronomisic king, Deut 18; Christ is the son of David who reigns forever, 2 Sam 7; Christ is God’s king, Ps 2, 45, 110; Christ is the king with a perpetual government of justice and peace, Isa 9; and in the NT, Christ is the king who dies for the sins of His people, Matt 1-2; Christ is mocked, though truly is, “King of the Jews.”  See also Revelation.

Secondly, the Kingdom of God refers to God’s government of all things to their appointed ends, which serve the ultimate end of the pervasive covering of the earth with God’s glory.  The reason that the kingly office of Jesus Christ is fundamental to His prophetic and priestly offices is because God’s kingdom and His government of it, is mediated by the Word of God (thus, the prophetic office) and means of reconciliation to God which His Word reveals (thus, the priestly office).  It was in losing dominion and coming under the dominion of sin, that Adam lost his status as prophet and priest; thus, the necessity of Christ’s Incarnation.  By putting on flesh, Jesus, as king, exercised dominion over sin as a man, and as He remained sinless, and so king, so He exercised His prophetic and priestly offices according to the will of God.

The kingdom of God, OT and NT. Now, the kingdom of God in the OT is quite nuanced with respect to the NT.  Whereas in the NT, the kingdom of God is predominantly the kingdom of grace, a spiritual kingdom that looks forward to the manifestation of the kingdom of God on earth; the OT testifies to the kingdom of God as it is manifest with a particular nation, Israel, and within the hearts of particular Israelites and Gentiles within their train.

Christ’s kingdom is not a kingdom that compels its citizens by force.  The nation of Israel, however, was quite violent in relationship to her neighbors at the command of God.  The difference lies in the progress of revelation, and the fact that the kingdom which was manifest in Israel through David was always forward looking.  God’s kingdom is no longer mainly operative amongst a single nation; the church is not a geo-political entity as Israel is; the redemptive history of Israel was type and figure of the reality of God’s kingdom come in Christ, hence the message of the kingdom which John the Baptist and Jesus proclaimed upon the initiative of Christ’s public ministry.

The kingdom of God is His reign in individual hearts, subduing, not rival nations, but rival spiritual powers: sin, Satan, the fear of death, etc.  It is not by the physical sword that the Christian fights, but by the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.  Of course, the OT is not devoid of this kingdom either.  For within the nation of Israel, the kingdom of God in this sense existed among the faithful, and was in fact, longed for and foreseen dimly by those of faith, Abraham, Moses, etc.  The sum of all of this is thus: as the kingdom of God is predominant in Scripture, so it is not surprising that the kingly office of Christ is fundamental to the prophetic and priestly offices of the Mediator by which He governs His kingdom.  It is precisely because He is the King of kings, that His prophetic Word is the fullness and climax of revelation, that His priestly work of atonement and intercession are invested with effectual power.

Christ’s Kingly Office applied.  Watson.

First, Christ’s kingship deals with the sin of His people by dying for His subjects, and so expressing the love of God, Matt 1:21-23 cf. 2:2.  His kingship is a kingship of love written in blood.

Secondly, Christ’s kingly authority is not exercised in force or violence with regard to His subjects, but always in love.  His authority is always sweet.  Of this, Thomas Watson writes, ““(Christ’s) regal rod has honey at the end of it” (Watson, 188).  His rule brings us to glory; it is always for us.

Thirdly, Christ’s kingdom is entered by regenerate persons only, John 3:3,5.  We should endeavor, then, all the more to make His kingdom known to as many as possible; and pray the Lord of the harvest to regenerate degenerate hearts, enabling them to see the King.

Fourthly, as we have been made willing subjects by regeneration and the sweetness of our King’s salvation, so we must be intent upon obeying our King with joy and not begrudgingly.

Fifthly, as we are not yet glorified, we need Christ’s reign to bring our sin and passions into subjection to Himself.  As Christ is King, so He is powerful to bring all which seeks to inflict or accuse us into subjection to Himself.  Thus, through our blessed King, we regain our dominion over sin and death; we have been freed by His excellent reign to exercise holiness of life and boldness in witness.

Sixthly, by the authority vested in Him as King, He is able to administer all of the benefits that He has purchased for us by His priestly office, that is, that which His blood ratified and His prayers plead.  He is the Great High Priest seated upon the majestic throne!  We can take great comfort in this: our King is governing all for our good and God’s glory, and as His power is derivative of God, so His purposes cannot be thwarted.   As He reigns the universe, so He is able to turn and work all things for the good government of His Church, until, having subjected all things to Himself, He hands over the universe to God that He might be all in all, the beginning and the end, pervasive and invasive in sweet and perfected government.

Christ is governing the universe such that all who are to be saved, will be saved, will have the Gospel come to them; such that those who have been saved are moved to follow their King into battle for kingdom advancement; such that His church is protected against the dangers of heresy, and the evil one; such that all of His enemies are subjected to Him or destroyed by Him as a vindication of His righteousness; such that we would be bold, and lion-hearted in proclaiming the decree of our King; such that the kingdom will be brought in, a new heaven and a new earth; such that therein the kingship that man lost in the garden will be restored to us; such that ultimately, all of God’s saving purpose will be fulfilled, and God, Himself, glorified, Matt 28:18, Eph 1:20-22, etc.

The Scriptures Which Testify to Christ’s Kingly Office. Gen 49; Num 22-24; Deut 17-18; 2 Sam 7; Ps 2; 45; 110; Isa 9:6-9; Zech; NT, etc.

Prophet: God’s representative with the people.

Christ like the OT prophets:

Christ is like the OT prophets, first, in that His office was largely discharged within a context of unbelief, persecution, and, eventually, a mob that brings about His death.  But Christ also serves as prophet in that He, like the Old Testament prophets, spoke the word and will of God.  He was God’s representative with the people.  He received God’s Word (which distinguished him from others who received revelation through a medium, like Pharaoh), and made it known to others.  In Luke 13:33, Jesus identifies Himself as a prophet, “Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.”

Christ separate from any other prophet:

As Jesus is the Word of God, so His entire life and every word revealed the will, wisdom and mind of God.  The writer of Hebrews makes a distinction between Christ and the rest of the prophets when he writes in 1:1-2, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.”

Thus, “Jesus was not merely a messenger of revelation from God (like all the other prophets), but was himself the source of revelation from God” (Grudem, 625-26).  This is one part of the purpose of Christ’s transfiguration (Matt 17:5).  Moses was superior to all other prophets in his day, but he spoke of yet one to come after him; Elijah was a highly distinguished prophet in his day and was translated into heaven without tasting death; but both of these show up in the transfiguration of Jesus in order that God the Father might distinguish Christ from these distinguished prophets; Christ is altogether different, not only a messenger, but the source of revelation; thus, when all settles, Moses and Elijah have disappeared, and only Christ remains; moreover, the Father gives His divine seal of approval not to Moses, or to Elijah, but to His Son, Jesus Christ.  His prophetic ministry was and is wholly other, and yet condescended into human language (see Dagg, Manual of Theology, 209).  The prophetic office of Christ far excels that prophetic office of men like Moses.  For whereas the prophetic office of Moses only intended to make God known to the people, and not to identify Moses as God, the prophetic office of Christ, also making God known, is inextricably linked to the fact that He, Himself, is God the Son. And why should He, as prophet, be God and not merely a man as the rest? Because it was necessary for God to reveal Himself in a different way than previous prophets; in His mercy, He, having already condescended to human language, now put on human flesh in order to teach us; in so doing, to speak words with divine authority, power, without any mixture of error or possibility of sin; Christ was not like other prophets, for though they were no doubt godly, they were yet sinners in need of Christ; and so their words and their lives did not always accord with the truth that they sought to propagate; but Christ’s words were always revealing God, never mixed with error, never contradictory to his personal life, always pure, always the truth, always shedding light.  In fact, it was by His words that the religious Jews held Him accountable for, and ultimately, for His words of truth that He was crucified, and man’s rebellion against the Truth underscored.

Again, Christ’s prophetic ministry was distinct from the OT prophets in this way: He had seen God, because He was with God, and is God; and He makes God known from firsthand knowledge and communion.  When an Old Testament prophet stood before the people to proclaim the Word of God, they would begin by saying, “Thus says the Lord,” implying that what they were about to say was something received from God and thus carried divine authority.  But that is not the way that Christ spoke.  Look with me at Matthew 5:22: “But I say to you . . ,” or John 3:3, “Truly, truly, I say to you . . .”  He is the Lord who is presently speaking!  His Word carried divine authority.  And the people recognized as much, right? Matthew 7:28-29, “when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.”

Further, Christ’s prophetic ministry was necessary so that a man might despair of the light of nature and come to Him who can shed light abroad within the soul; we are in great need of Christ’s teaching, for only Christ dispenses saving truth, only Christ can, by the Spirit, illumine the heart to faith (see Watson, A Body of Divinity, 170).

Lastly, Christ’s prophetic ministry continues in His exalted state through the ministry of His disciples, the apostles, the inspired Word of God, and the work of illumination by which the Spirit of Christ confirms the truth of God’s Word to us.  Thus, it continues in the ministry of His body, the Church and her proclamation.

Christ’s Prophetic Office Applied.

First, because everyone has experienced the noetic effects of sin (the depravity of the mind), it was necessary that we have a prophet who might effectually declare the mind of God and the way of salvation.

Secondly, it is good for us Christians to sit at the feet of our Lord and listen intently to His authoritative and transformative words. We must be “Mary’s” rather than “Martha’s”.  See example of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42, and take heed to the voice of God in Matt 17:5, “Listen to Him!”  We must be like Mary, who in doing the one thing necessary, chose the good portion of Christ’s words.  This is especially illumined when cross-referenced with Luke 10:21-24, where it is told us that no one knows the Father except the Son, and this is necessary unto eternal life.

Scriptures Evidences For the Prophetic Office of Christ. Deut 18:15 cf. Acts 3:22-23; Luke 13:33; Matt 21:11, 46; Luke 7:16; 24:19; John 3:2; 4:19; 6:14; 7:40; 9:17; that He reveals the Father/God, John 1:1-18; Luke 10:21-24; that He is greater than, Matt 7:29; Heb 1:1-3. Etc.

Priest: man’s representative with God – “concerning ritual observances involved in the proper approach to God” (Berkhof, ST, 361).

The Necessity of the Incarnation. That the Mediator had to be a man in order to fulfill His priestly office is plain from the Scriptures.  First, His name, Jesus, referring to the Son of God in the likeness of sinful flesh, was named such because He would save His people from their sins, Matt 1:21-23.  It was necessary that our High Priest become a man in order that He might give His own body and blood as a sacrifice for our sins through which we might be saved, Heb 10:5.  Secondly, He had to suffer as a man in order to be the perfect founder of our salvation, Heb 2:10; thus, He needed a nature capable of suffering (Dagg, 215).  Thirdly, it was necessary that He become a man so that He might be able to sympathize with us in our weaknesses, and so be a merciful and faithful High Priest in the service of God; thus, He is able to help us, Heb 2:17-18.  Fourthly, the incarnation was necessary in order that humanity might fulfill its original role as priest, and so have a sinless representative at the right hand of the Almighty – that in a sense, we might be in the throne room with God at present.

OT Priesthood Compared to that of Christ. The Levitical priests and the Levitical institution were types and figures of that priesthood of Christ (per the writer of Hebrews, 4:14-5:10; 6:20-10:25; 12:24).  The Aaronic/Levitical priesthood was employed in the service of a tabernacle/temple that was, both the employment, the furniture, and the place, a pattern of what God revealed to Moses on the mountain; that is, there was a real, true, and heavenly employment, furniture, and place being signified.  Thus, they offered the burnt offering on the brazen altar in the Holy Place in order to make atonement for the sins of the people.  They would then take live coals from that altar and make use of them in producing the smoke and smell of incense on the golden altar, Lev 16.  So Christ, having made atonement via the cross, entered into the Most Holy Place – the curtain of His flesh being torn in two – forever to urge the efficacy of His own atoning blood as the merit of His intercession.  As the Levitical priests were appointed by God from among men, so Christ was appointed by God from among men.  As they gave gifts and sacrifices for sin, so Christ gave His own body and blood for our sin that we might praise God for this great salvation.  However, whereas the priest was able to deal gently with the ignorant and wayward because they also were beset with weakness and sin (Heb 5:2), Christ is able to sympathize with our weaknesses because he too was tempted in every respect like we are – yet without sin!  Whereas they died and were not able to continue in office, Christ’s priesthood is a perpetual priesthood on account of an indestructible life – He continues forever and is able to save to the uttermost all who draw near to God through Him.  He always lives to make intercession for us, Heb 7:16, 23-25.  Whereas the law appointed men in their weaknesses to be high priests, the oath of God, “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever’” (Heb 7:21), appoints the Son of God who has been made perfect forever.  Whereas the former priests were not kings, Jesus was of the order of Melchizedek, an eternal-priest-king, who is able to bring about and dispose of all that He purchased and all that He asks for from God with absolute efficacy, Heb 7:17.  Whereas they ministered according to a faulty covenant, Jesus mediates the New Covenant, enacted on better promises; He has entered into the Holy of Holies, He has been seated at the right hand of throne of the Majesty in heaven, He lives to make intercession for us before the true Mercy Seat of God, He sets His own blood upon that Seat, and He unceasingly and efficaciously prays for the elect.

The Triad of Priestly Responsibilities: Substitutionary Sacrifice, Intercession (Before the Throne of God Above), Blessing.

First, Penal Substitutionary Sacrifice. The sacrifices which the priests made for the sinning Israelite were substitutionary.  The offerer would set his hands upon the animal, signifying the transfer of sin.  The animal would then take the penalty due the sinner.  So Lev 1:4; 16:20-22; 17:11; etc.  Now the animal had no choice in the matter.  It was not so with Christ.  For Jesus is not only our High Priest, but our sacrifice as well, and that as a matter of willingness.  So Ps 40:6-8; Heb 10:5.  What is even more astonishing is that Jesus was not the sacrifice offered by the sinner unto God, but by God unto God for the sinner.  So, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).  It is testified in multiple places that the sacrificial death of Jesus was substitutionary in that our sin, that is, the guilt of our sin as liability to punishment, was imputed to Christ and Christ’s righteousness was imputed to us.  So “you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matt 1:21); “The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa 53:6); “Yet he bore the sin of many and makes intercession for the transgressors” (Isa 53:12); “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21); “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Gal 3:13); “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18); etc.  Further, it is said in several places that Christ gave Himself “for us,” of which these two are most prominent, Rom 8:32; Gal 2:20.

Secondly, Intercession. The intercession of Christ is based upon His sacrificial work. The brazen altar and the golden altar were intricately connected – the work of atonement is one great work with two parts: sacrifice and intercession; the former regards Christ’s priestly work in the state of humiliation; the latter predominantly regards Christ’s priestly work in His state of exaltation (it is for this reason that I would submit that the extent of the atonement must be agreeable to both aspects of the atonement; that is, as it is clear that Christ intercedes for the elect only, so the blood of Christ, which pleads only for the elect, covers only the elect, leaving one with a definite atonement, a particular redemption).  Now, having sacrificed the sin offering, the blood of the offering would be placed upon the horns of the golden altar of incense, symbolic of the intercession of Israel and of the high priest.  Furthermore, according to Leviticus 16, it was necessary to take a live coal from the brazen altar in burning the incense within the golden altar, indicating that the sacrifice was the basis of intercession and would be effective in no other way.  So the intercessory work of Christ in heaven is based upon the sacrificial work of Christ on earth, and is acceptable only upon that basis.  Thus, it is said that in His intercession, Christ urges the efficacy of His blood.  See Rom 8:32-34 cf. Luke 18:1-8.  The issue of the atonement is clarified here, but it is not necessary to expound that right now.

The intercession of Christ is constant. As the aroma of the incense filled the temple at all times, so the intercession of Christ never ceases to fill the heavenly throne room with cries, and prayers and pleadings for the elect.  His intercession is ever before the Mercy Seat.  He lives forever to make intercession for us.

The intercession of Christ is effectual. The prayers of Christ never fail.  Again, His intercessory work is based upon His sacrificial work; it is not plausible that the Father denies the urging of His office and blood.  Berkhof writes, “He has merited all that He asks” (405).  Even upon earth Christ said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.  I knew that you always hear me . . .” (John 11:41-42).  Moreover, His prayers are not the petitions of the creature towards the Creator, but the request of the Son to the Father.  So Heb 7:28, the oath, over against the law, appoints a Son who has been perfected forever.  “As often as He asks, or declares that He will ask, anything of the Father, it is always . . . an asking . . . as upon equal terms” (Berkhof, 405).

The intercession of Christ is climactic. The daily ministration of the temple began and ended with the burning of incense, which symbolized the ministry of intercession.  Christ’s intercession is the culmination of all of His redemptive work – He bears all in pleading for the saints.

Christ intercedes for the following. That we might receive pardon from our daily sins as the fruit of justification is daily applied to them, Rom 8:33-34; That our faith shall endure, John 17:11; That we might have joy fulfilled in us, John 17:13; That we shall be sanctified, John 17:17-19; That we might experience the unity of the Godhead and of the church, John 17:20-21; That we might see His glory in heaven, John 17:24; He prays for the elect yet unsaved that they might come into possession of His salvation, John 17:20; He prays for each individual weakness, trial, and temptation that His people face, Heb 4:14-16; He purifies every one of our prayers and works – “they need this, because they are often so imperfect, trivial, superficial, and even insincere, while they are addressed to One who is perfect in holiness and majesty.  And besides rendering our prayers acceptable, he also sanctifies our services in the Kingdom of God.  This is also necessary, because we are often conscious of the fact that they do not spring from the purest motives; and that even when they do, they are far from that perfection that would make them, in themselves, acceptable to a holy God” (Berkhof, 403), 1 Peter 2:5; and that our “intercourse with heaven may be kept up” (Berkhof, 404), Heb 4:14, 16; 10:21, 22.  Etc.  Berkhof writes, “It is a consoling thought that Christ is praying for us, even when we are negligent in our prayer life; that He is presenting to the Father those spiritual needs which were not present to our minds and which we often neglect to include in our prayers; and that He prays for our protection against the dangers of which we are not even conscious, and against the enemies which threaten us, though we do not notice it.  He is praying that our faith may not cease, and that we may come out victoriously in the end.”

Thirdly, Blessing. In Numbers 6:22-27, it was customary for the priest to bless the people.  This would normally occur as the priest came out of the Most Holy Place; so Christ will set a blessing upon His people when He returns from the true Holy of Holies to consumate history “as-is” and inaugurate the New Heavens and the New Earth, and so our possession of eternal joy.

Christ’s Priestly Office Applied.

First, humility is incumbent upon us; what have we done that we should be reconciled to God, that we should have our names forever upon the Mercy Seat, written in Christ’s blood.

Secondly, Christ urges us to be persistent in our prayers because of His intercession, Luke 18:1-8 cf. Rom 8:32:34.

Thirdly, the atonement must be considered particular in its scope, as those for whom He intercedes cannot surpass the number for whom He died.  His blood reaches as far as the elect.  Let us praise Him for His particular love.

Fourthly, that it is to be our daily employment to fight for the joy which is set before us; for this was the weapon of Christ as He endured the cross, the priestly sacrifice of Himself; see Rom 12:1.

Scripture Evidences For the Priestly Office of Christ. Ps 40:6-8; 110:4; Zech 6:13; John 1:29; 3:14-16; John 17; Rom 3:24-25; 5:6-8; 8:32-34; 1 Cor 5:7; 15:3; Eph 5:2; Heb 3:1; 4:14; 5:5; 6:20; 7:26; 8:1; 1 John 2:2; 4:10.

The Effects and Application of Knowing our Mediator as a Whole, Jesus Christ, King, Prophet and Priest:

First, having been reconciled to God through Christ, we have a subordinated role as prophet – that the Gospel is the message of the Mediator and His mediation.  Share it.

Secondly, having been reconciled to God through Christ, we have a subordinated role as priests, Heb 10:19 -that we ought also to make intercession for all people, 1 Timothy 2:5, and offer up the sacrifice of praise in the midst of an antagonistic world, Heb 13:15, and to offer up the sacrifice of love for one another, Heb 10:24, and to live lives of holiness, Romans 12:1.

Thirdly, having been reconciled to God through Christ, we have a subordinated role as king.  As Christ dispensed authority to His disciples, so has God given us particular areas of authority especially as it pertains to making the truth of God known.  We with our King, war against principalities and powers, and we bring down strongholds by the Gospel.

Fourthly, having been reconciled to God through Christ, we love, honor, worship, adore and pursue Him and His glory.  All proper theology produces true doxology.

Fifthly, heaven will have a perpetual display of the glory of the Mediator, Rev 21:23; 7:17.  Let us consider it often as an exercise in joy and humility.

Sixthly, through Christ, and His mediation of the New Covenant, we, the church, have become a royal priesthood, 1 Peter 2:9.  We are marked by dominion.  We speak to the mulberry tree in faith and it obeys us.  We can cast mountains aside by a word.  And, we are given to prayer as priests, speaking with God of our brethren; meeting one another’s needs; pointing one another to the accomplishments of Christ on our behalf as a matter of daily intake.

Seventhly, all men who perish will do so because they have rejected Christ as the one Mediator given by God unto sinful men; they will have rejected and disobeyed His prophetic Word; they will be eternally stained with the blood of the Great High Priest; they will be slain by the Great King because they would not have Him reign over them.  Let us press this too upon them!

Eighthly, from the seventh, it follows that saving mediation is exclusive to the one man whom God put forward, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Let us make Him known!

Ninthly, Praise in hardship is our daily sacrifice as priests, Heb 13:15.

Tenthly, Good works which require the body are the overflow of our priestly office.  Let us not fear the destruction of our earthly tabernacles; this agrees with Christ who gave up His body as a living sacrifice, Ps 40:6-8 cf. Rom 12:1.

Eleventhly, our role as subordinate prophets, and priests, and kings shall be an eternal employment (Rev 3:21; 22:5; 1 Cor 6:2-3).  Therefore, the intricacies of life now, our day in and day out existences, are to be spent in preparation for this eternal role, the fruit of which belongs to the glory and praise of Christ our Mediator.

Twelfthly, see what confidence we are encouraged to have in our approach to God through Christ.

Thirteenthly, see how it is not possible that a man may be once converted, having supposedly seen the glory of the Mediator, that his ignorance, sin, and slavery have been abolished, that he has been made a subordinate royal priest in the family of God, and yet that he could be the same man fifty years later as he was when he cried out to God.  The doctrine of the Mediator establishes the basis and the surety of one’s conformity to Christ.

Sources:

Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, 154-91.

John L. Dagg, Manuel of Theology, 207-33, 53-58.

Louis Berkhof, ST, 356-67, 373-83, 392-412.

Wayne Grudem, ST, 624-34.

Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, 3:238-40, 361-68, 470-82.

Charles Hodge, ST, 455-79, 592-608.

John Calvin, Institutes, 1:464-503.

Quotables:

“Were it not for Christ’s manhood, the sight of the Godhead would be formidable to us; but through Christ’s flesh we may look upon God without terror” (Watson, A Body of Divinity, 162).

“Admire the glory of he Mediator . . . The temple of Solomon within was embellished with gold; travellers, as they passed along, might see the outside of the temple, but only the priests saw the glory which sparkled within the temple; so believers only, who are made priests unto God, see Christ’s glorious inside, the Godhead shining through the manhood” (Watson, 165).

“A man can no more by the power of nature reach Christ, than an infant can reach the tip of the pyramids, or the ostrich fly up to the stars” (Watson, 170; concerning why we need Christ as prophet).

“The cross was a pulpit, in which Christ preached his love to the world” (Augustine, quoted in Watson, 175; concerning the affection of Christ our priest to us sinners).

“Christ prays for nothing but what he has power to give.  What he prays for as he is man, that he has power to give as he is God” (Watson, 180).

“The saints persevere in believing, because Christ perseveres in praying” (Watson, 183).

“(Christ’s) regal rod has honey at the end of it” (Watson, 188; concerning Christ’s kingly rule by love towards His subjects).

“The death of an eminently good man would outweigh the annihilation of a universe of insects.  So the humiliation, sufferings, and death of the eternal Son of God immeasurably transcended in worth and power the penalty which a world of sinners would have endured” (Hodge, ST, 471).

“For the same reason it was also imperative that he who was to become our Redeemer be true God and true man.  It was his task to swallow up death.  Who but Life could do this?  It was his task to conquer sin.  Who but very Righteousness could do this?  It was his task to rout the powers of world and air.  Who but a power higher than world and air could do this?  Now where does life or righteousness, or lordship and authority of heaven lie but with God alone?  Therefore our most merciful God, when he willed that we be redeemed, made himself our Redeemer in the person of his only-begotten Son.” (Calvin, Institutes, 1:466)

“Outside Christ there is nothing worth knowing, and all who by faith perceive what he is like have grasped the whole immensity of heavenly benefits” (Calvin, 1:496).

“We patiently pass through this life with its misery, hunger, cold, contempt, reproaches, and other troubles – content with this one thing: that our King will never leave us destitute, but will provide for our needs until, our warfare ended, we are called to triumph” (Calvin, 1:499).

“While the fact of sacrifice depended on the assumption of a nature capable of suffering (Incarnation), the undertaking of the work, the efficacy of the sacrifice, the power to lay down his life, and the power to take it again, depended on the divine nature of Christ” (J. L. Dagg, Manual of Theology, 215).

“As ignorant, we need Christ, the prophet, to teach us; as guilty, we need Christ, the priest, to make atonement for us; and as depraved, we need Christ, the king, to rule over us, and bring all our rebellious passions into subjection” (Dagg, 231).

“When we come to Jesus Christ, the whole Godhead meets us again in the person of the Mediator: for ‘God is in Christ reconciling the world unto himself’” (Dagg, 256).

“Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  He does not just perform prophetic, priestly, and kingly activities but is himself, in his whole person, prophet, priest, and king.  And everything he is, says, and does manifests that threefold dignity” (Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, 3:367).

“The work of the Mediator is one grand, mighty, divine work that began in eternity and will only be completed in eternity.  But in the moment of the resurrection, it was divided into two parts.  Then it was suffering; now it is entering into glory.  Then it was a descent to the nethermost parts of the earth; now it is an ascent on high.  But the two are equally necessary to the work of salvation.  In both states it is the same Christ, the same Mediator, the same Prophet, Priest, and King” (Bavinck, 3:475).  So with the atonement, there was sacrifice, now there is perpetual intercession; the resurrection and ascension stand in between.

“It is a consoling thought that Christ is praying for us, even when we are negligent in our prayer life; that He is presenting to the Father those spiritual needs which were not  present to our minds and which we often neglect to include in our prayers; and that He prays for our protection against the dangers of which we are not even conscious, and against the enemies which threaten us, though we do not notice it.  He is praying that our faith may not cease, and that we may come out victoriously in the end . . . Tens of thousands of people call for His attention at once, and a moment’s intermission would prove fatal to their interests.  Therefore He is always on the alert” (Berkhof, ST, 403-04).

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