A mediator is one who comes between alienated parties to effect a reconciliation. He must be the friend, the advocate and equal of both parties. Failing in one of these, he is incapacitated. No one would accept a mediator whom he believed would be wanting in any of these respects in his relations to him. No one is fit to mediate who is not qualified to do justice to both parties. This he can not do unless he knows the rights of both and is the friend of both. He must be unbiased in his judgment and impartial in his friendship. He must be considered the equal of both, in so far, at least, as his knowledge of them and his ability to judge between them is concerned.
A mediator between God and men implies alienation between them. The history of the race shows this to be true. The time was when they were one; when not a feeling or a shadow came between them. The bliss of Eden reached its daily acme when the footfall of God was heard amid its bowers. The hour that He joined their company was that of supreme joy. But man sinned, and then the presence of God was shunned. That which was delightful before is painful now. Such is the principle of congeniality; and such the consequences of sin -- to make of heaven a hell. This fact alone should teach us that it lies not within the limits of divine power to make a heaven for sinful men. Separation from God is hell; and with the soul defiled by sin, union is worse than separation.
After the fall of man he could no longer stand in the immediate presence of God, as he was wont to do before. Sin can not approach the divine presence, hence he needed a mediator, one to stand between him and an offended God, through whom he might again be heard and blessed. Mediators of an imperfect and typical character were had in that age of preparation for the coming perfection. But where could a perfect mediator be found to stand between an offended God and rebellious man? Where in all the universe could one be found the friend and equal of both parties? Where could one be found that could stand on equality with God, know what was just and right in regard to Him, and, at the same time know the weaknesses, the wants and the rights of man? Where was one who could poise with one hand the scales of God's justice and gather fallen humanity to his bosom with the other? The boundless dominions of God contained not such a being. Man could not thus act, for the best of men are themselves sinners, and can approach God only through a mediator. The best of men know nothing of God's side of this matter, and they fall below equality with Him, as the earth is below the stars. An angel could not stand between God and men, for he can not descend to equality with fleshly natures, to know their weaknesses and their wants; nor can ascend the heights of divine perfection till he knows the mind and the rights of God. In the Divine Logos, and the Divine Spirit we find, in a sense, equality with God, but no equality with men. How, then, is this great problem, that on which the world's salvation turns, to be solved? The human and the divine must be blended. They must meet and dwell in one. This is accomplished, not by lifting the human up to the divine, but by bringing the divine down to the human. God glories in condescension.
The Word that was in the beginning with God, that was God in His divine attributes, became flesh and dwelt among us. In the person of the babe of Bethlehem we have a being that never before existed -- a being both human and divine. He brought from the skies the divinity of His Father, and dwelt among men with the humanity of His mother. Hence the mighty chasm between man and God, between earth and heaven, is bridged over in the God-man, Christ Jesus. His divinity reaches half-way from heaven to earth, and His humanity half-way from earth to heaven, and the two unite in Him.
In the life of Jesus we see His two natures constantly manifested. As He hungers and thirsts and sleeps; as He weeps over the sins of men, and sorrows over their afflictions, we see His humanity. He seems to be only a man. But when He stills the tempest on the Sea of Galilee, or calls Lazarus back to life, we see His divinity. It is interesting to study His life with a view to the manifestation of His two natures in each event -- their distinctness and their blending.
We may never know in this life the reasons for the blending of the divine and the human in the person of the mediator. These things are doubtless beyond the ken of an archangel, in all their fullness. Yet from our point of view, obscured by our fleshly weakness, we may see some reasons lying on the surface why this was a necessity. Some of these let us consider.
Man fell through the weakness of the flesh and the power of temptation. Satan works through the flesh to pollute the spirit. In order to be one with us in our temptation, and perfect Himself as an experimental sympathizer, our mediator must be tempted in all points like as we are, that He may know how we feel under temptation. This demanded that He take upon Himself not the nature of angels, but that of the seed of Abraham. He must, therefore, be a man. But this temptation is to be successfully met. It is to be without sin. No man had ever successfully withstood the assaults of Satan. Our mediator was to do this. Hence the necessity of divinity. He must be human to be tempted; He must be divine to resist it. And to make His victory the more complete, He had His flesh put to the sorest test. After a fast of forty days, when His long pent-up hunger rushed upon Him as a lion upon its prey, Satan approached and exhausted his strength to overcome Him. Not only did He give Satan this advantage, such as he had never had nor needed over men, but He even went out of the flesh, into the citadel of which Satan held the keys, and came out a triumphant conqueror. Hence His humanity in order to enter in; His divinity in order to come out.
The scheme of redemption contemplated a sacrifice for the sins of the world. Men must get rid of sin. They had no power of themselves to do this. Sin must be remitted. This demanded a sacrifice for sin. "Without the shedding of blood there is no remission." The blood shed must be the blood of humanity. It must contain the life under condemnation. Hence the "blood of bulls and of goats could not take away sin." It could not reach and cleanse the conscience. It was used as an imperfect type, but the perfection required the blood that courses in human veins; but the victim must be innocent. It must be absolutely free from sin. Only a sinless offering can meet the requirements of the divine government. Hence, in order to offer the blood of the condemned race, our mediator must be human; in order to offer it in innocence, He must be divine.
The completion of the preparation of our mediator for His work as such, required His death and resurrection. It is shocking to the mind of some to speak of Christ having to be educated and perfected for His office of mediator, but this He asserts Himself. "For it became him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the author of their salvation perfect through sufferings." "Though he was a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became unto all them that obey him, the author of eternal salvation." This officiating for man as mediator and high priest, is the only thing, as we now remember, in which Christ is said to have been specially qualified by His life among men. This is significant. The reasons for it are easily seen in the foregoing. He had to become a man, and these things peculiar to humanity He had to learn.
In offering Himself a sacrifice for sin, our mediator had to die. In order to His work as such, of which His death was only preparatory, He had to live again. His death was voluntary. He said, "I have power to lay down my life, and I have power to take it up again." In order to lay down His life, He had to be human; in order to take it up again, He had to be divine.
Having accomplished His preparatory work, Christ returned to the Father to make an atonement, and to sit henceforth as a mediator between God and men. He was equal with God before He left the heavens; He became the equal of man in His sojourn in the world. Hence He is now perfectly qualified for His work. But we find that we can not dispose of this subject in one chapter.