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Book of God's words

As God, Jesus is himself the definitive Giver of God’s words. Only God can give God’s words. God’s words originate with God. He decides how they will be given to us or to angels.

As man, Jesus is the perfect Receiver of God’s words. Man was created to be the receiver. God gives life and breath. We receive both. God gives love and gifts. We receive them. God is the Giver; man is the receiver.

But here’s what’s unique about Jesus. Truly, he is one of a kind. There is—nor will there ever be—another Jesus. Since Jesus is both fully God and fully man, he alone Gives as God and Receives as man in his one Person.

As the God-man, Jesus is the definitive Giver and the Perfect Receiver. If Jesus is not both fully God and fully man in his one Person, there is no Gospel for us. If Jesus in only God speaking to us, we stand judged and forever sentenced to eternal condemnation. If Jesus in only man hearing and receiving God’s words to us, we will forever be prodigals, with no hope of a party in the Father’s House. For there to be Gospel for us, Jesus must be both fully God and fully man in his one Person.

This should be the paradigm through which we preach, study, interpret and apply the words of God, and listen to the preached Word as we gather as the children of God on the Lord’s Day.

If we neglect either side of the “equation” (Jesus is fully God or Jesus is fully man) or overlook the miraculous reality that Jesus is fully both in his one Person, we’ll ultimately lose hope. As Christians we are quick to affirm, “there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5), but for Jesus to be mediator means much more than he stands between God and us. It means, stunningly, that he is the one and only Mediator in his one Person, since in his one Person he is fully God and fully man at the same time—all the time.

Unfortunately, and terribly so, we sometimes conjure up Jesus as mediator with this kind of image in our head: we picture God looking down on us from above (whatever “above” means) and picture ourselves desperately looking up for some serious help. Fortunately for us, we think, Jesus stands between God and us. Jesus’ right hand is holding his Father’s right hand and Jesus’ left hand is tightly grabbing our right hand (and with our left hand we’re clamping onto his left hand’s wrist just to make sure we don’t slip from his grasp).

But that’s not the way the Gospel works! If you have that image in your head, or one similar, banish and replace it with Gospel Truth.

But Jesus is Mediator in the following way or in no way:

Regardless of the words of God given to man, “[Jesus] fulfills all righteousness by being the truly obedient human being. Here at last is a human that hears the word of God and obeys it perfectly. Jesus is thus the God who speaks the creating work at the beginning. He is the God who speaks now the new-creating word. He is himself the message of that word, and he is the faithful hearer of the word…[To preach] this way [God] justifies us as we struggle to preach faithfully, and he justifies the congregation as they struggle to listen faithfully” (Graeme Goldsworthy, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture, p.43).

So how should Jesus as Mediator serve as the lens through which we read the words of God? For example, what should we do with these verses?

“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it’—when you have it with you” (Proverbs 3:27-28).

“Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8-9).

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8).

“Jesus said to him, ‘If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me’” (Matthew 19:21).

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27).

“Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do” (Galatians 2:10).

If we do not understand Jesus as Mediator as I’ve explained above, we’re very likely to grow terribly weary in well-doing (or frightening self-righteous in our do-gooding). Who of us can measure up to the meager handful of commands I provided above? Is there any one of us who can face those commands head-on and come out the other side unscathed? Not a one of us; unless, of course, we have a Mediator who is both fully God and fully man in his own Person.

Consider the following profoundly encouraging words as you seek simply to obey the words of God to you:

“[T]he neglect of Jesus’ human response [as our Mediator] to the Father has catastrophe consequences. The reason is that a failure to give appropriate attention to the vicarious humanity of Jesus means that everything, the whole of the Christian faith, life and ministry are not cast back on to us to do. At the last moment, it turns out, we are dependent on our faith, our worship, our obedience and so on, rather than on Jesus’ response for us. While our responses of course have their valid place, they are not the axis on which the gospel turns. Rather, Jesus is the axis on which the gospel turns. The resurrection of Jesus is the assurance that Jesus not only stood in for us while he lived, but that he stands in for us still, today and tomorrow and forever, offering us — who we are and what we do — in himself to the Father. Our lives, our worship and our ministries, as well as our prayers  are given to the Father ‘through Jesus Christ our Lord’” (Andrew Purves, The Resurrection of Ministry: Serving in the Hope of the Risen Lord, p.101).

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