The Mediator Between God And Men
By: David K. Bernard
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (I Timothy 2:5).
The central message of Christmas is that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (I Timothy 1:15). This message is of utmost importance to every human being, “for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 3:23; 6:23).Everyone in this world has sinned and needs the Savior.
Humanity’s Need and God’s Provision
Beginning with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, sin has separated the human race from God, for the holy God cannot have fellowship with sin. Separation from God means spiritual death, and the ultimate consequence of human sinfulness is eternal separation from God, also called damnation or the second death. In short, God’s holiness and justice demand that sin be punished by death.
The human race could devise no way to escape from this dreadful destiny. No person could be his own savior or a savior for others, for each person is himself a sinner under the judgment to die for his own sins. Sinful man could not make himself holy, and the holy God could not become sinful, so there was apparently no common ground on which the two estranged parties could meet.
But in His infinite love, mercy, and wisdom, God designed a plan of salvation that would satisfy the requirements of His holiness and justice and yet provide a means of redemption for sinful humanity. This plan centers around our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who reunites God and man.
Jesus is the only “mediator between God and man,” and as such, He came to “give his life a ransom for all” (I Timothy 2:5-6). He was able to be the unique mediator because He was God manifested in the flesh (I Timothy 3:16; John 1:1,14). Both His humanity and His deity are essential to His mediatorial work. As a true man, He represents the human race to God; and as the one God incarnate He reveals the eternal, invisible God to man.
The Man Christ Jesus
Jesus was the only sinless man who ever lived. Thus He was the only man who did not deserve eternal death for sin, and the only person who could be a substitutionary sacrifice for sinful humanity. Just as Adam was the first representative of the human race, leading us into sin by his disobedience to the plan of God, so Jesus serves as the new representative of the human race, leading us into righteousness by His obedience to the plan of God (Romans 5:19).
When we speak of Jesus as the mediator between God and humanity, we must not think of Him as a second God or a second divine person. The Old Testament emphatically proclaims, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one LORD” (Deuteronomy 6:4). The New Testament does not change this message, for there is no contradiction in the Word of God. Rather, it reiterates the same truth and builds upon it. “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (I Timothy 2:5). The new revelation of the New Testament is not that there is another God or an additional person in the Godhead. which would contradict the faith and doctrine of the Old Testament saints. Rather, the New Testament reveals the same God of the Old Testament in a greater dimension: His coming in flesh to redeem His fallen creation.
Significantly, I Timothy 2:5 does not say the mediator between God and men is “the second person,” or “God the Son.” or “the eternal Son.” It identifies the mediator as “the man Christ Jesus” (emphasis added). Christ’s role of mediation does not imply a separate divine identity; it simply refers to His genuine, authentic humanity. As God incarnate, Jesus Christ literally unites both deity and humanity in His own person.
He Himself is the meeting place of God and man. He becomes the place and means of mediation, not by pointing us to someone else, but by bringing us to Himself, placing us in His body, and filling us with His Spirit.
He is not an agent who leads us into fellowship with another person. “God was in Christ. reconciling the world unto himself” (II Corinthians 5:19). Christ died so “that he might present it to himself [not to someone else] a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing” (Ephesians 5:27). When we see and now Jesus, we actually see and know God the Father, because the Father dwells in Jesus (John 14:7-11).
If there were a second divine person, such a person could not be the required mediator between the holy God and sinful humanity. Only a sinless man could be the mediator, the kinsman redeemer, the sacrifice of atonement, the one to shed blood for the remission of sins.