Friday, 4 January 2019
And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. Hebrews 9:15
The author has just shown the superiority of the shed blood of Christ over that of the animal sacrifices of the Old Covenant. Christ’s offering was one which was fully capable of cleansing those who come to Him. And that blood was not taken into an earthly sanctuary, but into “the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands” (9:11). Through this offering, the author then said that, in that Most Holy Place, He obtained for His people “eternal redemption.” In this understanding, he now says, “And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant.” In what was presented in those previous verses, it is evident that Jesus Christ is the One, only, and true “Mediator.”
What Aaron and his descendants did was merely typical of the work of Christ, but it was actually ineffective in bringing about reconciliation between God and man. Instead, it only anticipated what Christ would do when He introduced “the new covenant.” As a new covenant is introduced, it shows that the old was temporary and anticipatory. If there was no fault in the old, there would be no need for a new (see verse 8:7). But there was fault (sin in man) which required the fulfillment of the old through a perfect Man. The surety of His perfection was determined “by means of death.”
The logic is that even though perfect and without sin, until Christ died, He could not be considered perfect in death. What if He violated the law just before dying? But in death, the record of man is set, once and for all. The death validated the life of perfection. This is why Christ’s death was necessary. First, it validated His perfection, and then secondly, it was suitable “for the transgressions under the first covenant.”
Along with the two points just mentioned, it is hard to even comprehend how much else is involved in what Jesus did. The words look forward to those who accept His work after the cross and also back on those who lived by faith under the Old Covenant system. Violations of the law must be atoned for, even just one. This is because breaking any part of the law results in breaking the entire law (James 2:10).
As the sins of the first covenant were only potentially atoned for in Christ until He came, it shows that Christ is truly the only Mediator between God and man. This is stated explicitly in 1 Timothy 2:5 and it excludes any other – such as Mary, whom Roman Catholicism accepts as a co-equal mediatrix. Such heresy must be addressed because a prayer to or through Mary (or anyone else) is an ineffective prayer; a reliance on anyone but Jesus is a lost hope. It is through Jesus alone “that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”
The overall scope of what occurred in Christ’s work is both more effective, and broader in range, than that of the Old Covenant system. “Those who are called” are any from Israel under the Old Covenant, and those who come to Christ under the New. It is the final, finished, and fully sufficient work of Christ that is the guarantee for both that they “may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. None under the Old could receive it apart from Christ, and in the introduction of the New, none will receive it apart from Christ. Christ alone is the way to reconciliation with God, for all people and at all times.
Life application. It was said above that in death, the record of man is set, once and for all. As this is true, it shows that any person can come to Christ at any time before his death, and in that act, he is granted Christ’s perfection. In this, he then receives the promise of the eternal inheritance. For those who come to Christ many years before death, they are at that time granted His sinless perfection. After that, as sin is no longer imputed in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:19), they are deemed as perfect from that point on, even until death. And for the one who calls on Christ a moment before dying, he too is imputed Christ’s perfection, and he moves from death to life. No person who comes to Christ will be lost.
Lord God, keep our hearts, thoughts, and minds focused on Jesus and His work. Protect us from heresy which can only take our eyes off the Prize which is Jesus alone. When we stray from Your precepts, send us correction that we may always be pleasing in Your eyes. Amen!