But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
Do you hear that? Jesus acted as a mediator. Friends, when we were deeply at odds with God, unable to even hear, understand or see him for who he really was, we desperately needed a mediator, that is a friend to us both, to bring us together at the very point of the broken relational chasm between us.
God was not unwilling to forgive us, but when we looked at him before we knew him we didn’t actually see someone we thought was eager to forgive us. We saw a spiteful vengeful God. We saw only his wrath and fury. And we weren’t all too keen on him. We didn’t even crave his forgiveness because we were so self-satisfied and sure of our own ability to save ourselves. We were actively turning away from him. We sought no way towards him. We were set on our own way even if there was hell to pay.
But do you know what our gracious God did? He, the offended one, the one who had every right to cast us away, summoned a mediator. He knew we couldn’t see eye to eye with him. We were too small, too far away, to hot with self-justifying anger. But what’s crazy is that he didn’t just stand angrily tapping his foot or banging his fist until we bowed in fear, he… the offended one… he sought a mediator! Could God have solved the problem of this broken relationship by any other means he chose? I believe so. He is God after all. So, why did he choose to summon a mediator?
Friends, it’s because he knew we could not see him as he is until we could look him in the eye. Jesus came between us. He picked up our chin. He said, “Look friend, I know He looks unsafe… and trust me, He is. But believe in me, when I say He is good. I trust Him with my very life. You can too!”
Even more gracious still is that not only did God the Father send his son as a mediator between us, to bridge the relationship between us, he also sent his Holy Spirit because He knew we were so hardened toward Him that we would not even be softened enough to take the hand of the mediator he sent. So he gives us the Holy Spirit who quickens us so that we can even begin to trust His mediator.
If you are a parent trying to reconcile with a toddler you might be able to envision this. You have just scolded them for breaking one of your favorite things, something that meant a great deal to you. And then they laughed and ran away. You know, as a parent that you have to address that kind of thing because not only do they need to understand why it broke more than the thing, but your heart as well, but also because you know this kind of behavior left unchecked will lead to their ultimate harm. So you have confronted them with the wrong that they have done. You know that in order for the situation to improve they must deal with the facts that they have done something that hurt you. Your child knows they did something wrong, but they may only fear your anger. So, to break down that anger you get down on your knees. You come down to their level. You become small so that they can sense your drawing near us not a threat but an invitation to relationship. Even then the toddler remains steadfast, though you can maybe see their resolve crumbling. So you maybe say something funny and laugh… and the sound of your laughter that proceeds from you suddenly melts your heart and in turn softens their countenance. Their obstinance falls to the ground and they turn around. They see you smiling. They run to you and you embrace them and say, “I love you, buddy.” They relax into your arms relieved that they know they belong. They bury their head in your neck and say sorry. They know that even though they had hurt you so badly, you are ready and eager to forgive them. Then they can hear you and comprehend as you unpack for them why that broken thing that meant nothing to them, but so much to you, caused you such sorrow.
Friends, we all need a mediator if we are to ever experience reconciliation with God. And God doesn’t wait for us to summon our own mediator. He knows we will not. He sends his own, and does so quite unbidden. And the mediator comes to us, and before he even takes our hand, he breaks through our hard shell by awakening us with his Holy Spirit.
How can we mirror Jesus to one another in this way? We can offer to come and facilitate reconciliation wherever it is needed. The world is a never ending fount of broken places. Between fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, brothers and sisters, friends, neighbors… There is no short supply of alienation into which you can speak and be the hands that bring other hands together. This is what it means to be ministers of reconciliation in this world. We are not intended to walk through broken relationships alone. God gave us the pattern. And it is a good and gracious gift. That is what Jesus did for us. We all need this desperately.
“Truly I know it is so, But how can a man be righteous before God? 3 If one wished to contend with Him, He could not answer Him one time out of a thousand.
4 God is wise in heart and mighty in strength. Who has hardened himself against Him and prospered?…. If I called and He answered me,
I would not believe that He was listening to my voice.
17 For He crushes me with a tempest,
And multiplies my wounds without cause….. If I wash myself with snow water,
And cleanse my hands with soap,
31 Yet You will plunge me into the pit,
And my own clothes will abhor me.
32 “For He is not a man, as I am,
That I may answer Him,
And that we should go to court together.
33 Nor is there any mediator between us,
Who may lay his hand on us both.
34 Let Him take His rod away from me,
And do not let dread of Him terrify me.
35 Then I would speak and not fear Him,
But it is not so with me.
From Job 9