Only One Mediator

mediationWhen we’re at odds with another person sometimes things come to such a state that the only thing for it is a go-between, someone who is trusted by both parties. This is true for relations between God and humans. We often look for ways to relate to God. We build statues, we pick people living and dead as a representative for us with God. The Israelites wanted a mediator between themselves and the Lord at Sinai. When the Lord thundered from the darkness and gloom of Sinai, the Israelites recognized that Yahweh had revealed his glory and majesty and they were justly terrified. “If we hear the voice of the Lord our God any more, we shall die.” (Deut 5:25; ESV). In their place they sent Moses in their place, to go to God in their place, to go “hear all that the Lord our God will say, and speak to us all that the Lord our God will speak to you, and we will hear and do it.” (Deut 5:27; ESV).

Moses was a holy man, but he was just a man. He died. He was buried and he remained in his tomb. Moses was a temporary mediator. He anticipated another mediator.

18. But who now is that Mediator, who in one person is true God and also a true and righteous man?

Our Lord Jesus Christ, who is freely given unto us for complete redemption and righteousness.

John 1:17 contrasts Jesus and Moses this way: “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (ESV). Moses came bearing the law. His ministry was characterized by law. We learn more about how to think about that law when we see what John contrasts to the law, “grace and truth.” That’s an interesting contrast because clearly there was grace given to the Israelites under Moses. Deuteronomy 7 makes that clear. The Lord did not choose the Israelites because they had some quality that made them deserving of divine approval. God saved them because of his undeserved favor toward sinners. Nevertheless, John said “grace and truth.” What did he mean? He the second noun clarifies things. As Geerhardus Vos noted long ago, “truth” here (and elsewhere in John’s writings) does not mean, in the first instance, “true propositions as distinct from false propositions” (even though John certainly believed in an wrote true propositions and denied false ones!). Rather, he means something like “ultimate reality as distinct from provisional, temporary illustrations.”

Moses’ mediation between God and humans was temporary. It was illustrative of another Mediator and mediation that would come later. Paul says, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus… (1 Timothy 2:5, ESV). Jesus is the man. He is the righteous one. He is the law keeper. He is the one qualified to stand in our place. There isn’t any one else who can stand. The Israelites were honest. They knew that they could not stand before God. We know, if we’re honest with ourselves, that we cannot stand. That’s why we pick mediators, but we’re not even qualified to pick a mediator. Even in our choice of mediators we get it wrong. We pick living humans or dead ones as if they are holy enough to represent us to God. What we’re really saying, however, is that God isn’t that holy, but he is but he is that holy. He is terrible in his holiness. We’ve only had occasional glimpses of it in history. If you’ve ever witnesses a great raging wildfire, that’s a small analogy of God’s holiness. It burns everything it touches. It is relentless and terrifying. It makes everyone want to run to safety. That’s what happened to the Israelites every time they saw flashes of it. That’s what happened in the New Testament when they saw it.  Ask the Apostle Paul about it. Ask Ananias and Sapphira about God’s holiness (Acts 5).

No, we can’t choose our mediator, because God has chosen one for us. More than that he has become our Mediator. God the Son took on flesh to become the representative of humanity to God and the representative of God to humanity. When the disciples asked to see the Father, Jesus said, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father” (John 14:8–11). He is the true man, the righteous man and he is God and he is so in one person. He isn’t God plus man. He isn’t a sum. He is the God-Man. That’s why there can be no other mediator. No saint, not even blessed Virgin is qualified to represent us to God or God to us. They’re holy believers, glorified before the Lord but just that and no more. If they could talk they would tell you that, they would tell you: don’t pray to me, that’s silly. God the Son became incarnate and you try to talk to me, a mere human? Being dead does not confer divinity on Christians. It only confers glory.

We need a Mediator. The good news is that we have one and in his obedient life and death he substituted for all believers is now presently interceding for us all. In him we have a complete forgiveness, complete righteousness, and complete salvation. If we seek another mediator beside Jesus we are saying that he failed or that he was but a partial mediator. That’s a lie. That’s a defamation of God the Son incarnate. He did not say, “it is begun.” He said, “It is finished.”

Subscribe to the Heidelblog today!


  1. Thank you for this blog, Scott. This is a great exposition of one aspect of how belonging to Christ is our ‘only comfort in life and in death.’

  2. Bravo! So very clear, Christ centered, and thus rightly refutes all human-legalistic-natural (self made) religion.

Comments are closed.