“Why must he be very man, and also perfectly righteous?
“Because the justice of God requires that the same human nature which hath sinned, should likewise make satisfaction for sin; and one, who is himself a sinner, cannot satisfy for others.”
“Why must he in one person be also very God?
“That he might, by the power of his Godhead sustain in his human nature, the burden of God’s wrath, and might obtain for, and restore to us, righteousness and life.”
“Who then is that Mediator, who is in one person both very God, and a real righteous man?
“Our Lord Jesus Christ, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.”
The Song of Redemption
The apostle John writes in Revelation, “And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, ‘Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.'” (Rev. 5:13).
The echo of that song rings in our hearts when we read question and answer 18. It is as if we hear the sound as of a great thunder, like the voice of many waters carrying the song of deliverance and of victory.
We notice at once that Christ is presented in all His fulness. Not piecemeal, as if we must learn to know Him bit by bit, but in full harmony with our faith, we embrace the complete Savior. Even a small child knows in his simple way the confession: “Our Lord Jesus Christ.”
We also notice that when the writers of our Book of Instruction come to this point, words fail them. Who dares to attempt to put in his own words such a glorious gospel of salvation, especially when Scripture is at hand in which God tells us about it? We can appreciate the fact that our fathers wisely turn to the Scriptures. The answer to question 18 is almost literally a quotation from I Corinthians 1:30. Here Christ is spoken of as the revelation of the wisdom of God to us. That Wisdom is revealed to us as Christ our Righteousness, and also our Sanctification. To sum it all up, He is our full Redemption!
Finally, what even adds to the beauty of this answer is the fact that this is a confession. You and I are placed before the question, “Who then is that Mediator?” To which we answer in one accord with the church of all ages, “Our Lord Jesus Christ, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” We hear Job testifying, “I know that my Redeemer liveth.” We hear the church of the shadows, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” This is my comfort, that I am not my own, but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.
The Only Mediator
Our Catechism has been writing mediator with a small m. A mediator is generally defined as “one who mediates or interposes between parties at variance for the purpose of reconciling them.” Such a mediator seeks to remove the enmity between two parties, in order to bring harmony between them. He is in that sense a “go-between.” But human definitions fail us when we are speaking of things heavenly and spiritual. Actually Scripture never speaks of God and man as two parties at variance, who must be reconciled to each other. We are always the guilty ones, who are unfaithful by our willful disobedience. Even though His justice is offended, and satisfaction must be made. God always keeps covenant. God is like the faithful husband who still loves and seeks his erring wife, even though she has grossly sinned against him with her adulteries. Therefore Scripture speaks of God reconciling us unto Himself, never to reckon our sins against us.
We are now writing Mediator with a capital M. It may have seemed to us as if the Catechism was slow in reaching this point. Lord’s Day 5 spoke of the kind of mediator we must seek for. The first part of Lord’s Day 6 asks, as did Anselm of Canterbury centuries before, Why must the mediator be man, why righteous man, why very God in one person? All this is no vain speculation, but drives home to us, on the one hand, how desperately hopeless our salvation is, if it in any way depends on us. On the other hand, it shows the love of God Who keeps covenant forever. No, still more, it shows the wonder of our salvation, for “great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” (I Timothy 3:16).
The Perfect Mediator
“Who then is that Mediator, who is in one person both very God, and a real, righteous man?”
“Our Lord Jesus Christ.” We hear the angels singing upon the fields of Ephratha, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:14).
Our Mediator is Jesus. The name Jesus, let us never forget, means Jehovah-salvation. God came into the flesh, born of a virgin. Deny that wonder, and you have no Savior, not now or ever. Maintain that wonder, and you see the dawning of the new, eternal day in that Babe of Bethlehem, the person of the Son of God with a complete, yet weakened human nature. He is Immanuel, God incarnate. He is like us, except for the fact that He is righteous, sinless. God sent His own Son into the world to shed His blood and to redeem us from our sins.
Our Mediator is the Christ. He stands eternally before the face of God as God’s Anointed, chief Servant in God’s House to carry out the eternal purpose of His will. He is the Face of God, the revelation of Him Whom no eye can see, nor ever will see. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, of Whom are all things, through Whom are all things, that in Him all the fulness of glory may dwell forever. To our adorable God must be the glory unto all eternity.
Our Lord! Already then, when He stood in the presence of God as our eternal Mediator, He was appointed to be Lord of His Church. When He dwelled among us the disciples saw His glory as the glory of the only begotten Son of God, full of grace and truth. At first they addressed Him as Rabbi, but the more they saw of His glory the more they were prompted to address Him as Lord. After the victory of the cross and His glorious resurrection from the dead, Thomas says, “My Lord and my God.” Christ’s Lordship was fully realized when He ascended to heaven and took His position of power at the Father’s right hand. Christ is exalted as Lord over all, with a Name above all names in heaven, on earth, and down to the deepest hell, yet always as Head of His Church. Christ rules out of Zion, carrying out the counsel of God unto its consummation in the great and glorious Day of the Lord when every knee must bow and every tongue must confess that He is Lord, to the glory of the Father.
The Gift of God
Our Lord Jesus Christ! We utter His Name in awesome adoration, for He is made unto us of God, wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification; yea, complete redemption!
Wisdom of God.
Have you never read with rapt wonder that amazing 8th chapter of Proverbs, where Christ speaks of Himself as the Wisdom of God saying, “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. . . . Then was I by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before him.” The figure seems to be of a child who admires everything that father does, so that father finds his joy in his son: Christ is the wisdom of God already in the decree, that in Him all fulness of blessedness should dwell, and that as Head of the Church. He is the revelation of God’s eternal wisdom in creation, specifically in the creation of Adam. We cannot overlook the fact, that in question 16 we read, not, “I who have sinned must also make satisfaction for my own sin.” Then salvation would be forever impossible. But we read, “The same human naturewhich hath sinned should likewise make satisfaction for sin.” That immediately reminds us of the wisdom of God that made Adam our representative head and our first father. Only because Adam was our representative head in paradise: could Christ, the last Adam, be our representative Head by coming in the flesh and bearing the sin of mankind. Marvelous wisdom of God made it possible for Jesus to be born of a virgin, to tabernacle among us, to atone for our sins by His horrible death on the cross, to die our death, to arise again, and to be exalted to glory. This same Jesus comes with His Spirit into our hearts to teach us true wisdom. Christ, the wisdom of God, tells us of God’s promises, the secrets of Father’s heart, the mighty working of the power of His might in raising Christ Jesus, and in exalting Him to glory for our sakes. He teaches us God’s precepts, which alone can lead us in wisdom’s ways, to bring us to Himself in the glory He has prepared for us with Him in heaven. “Blessed is the man who heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.” (Proverbs 8:34). “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! . . . For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.”
God’s Wisdom is revealed to us in righteousness. The Holy Word assures us that Christ is our Righteousness When Christ during His earthly ministry walked the way of the cross, we walked that way with Him. When He spread His arms to be spiked to the accursed beam, we spread our arms in Him. When He cried out in anguish of hell under the consuming wrath of God, we cried out in Him. When He died, we died. When He was buried, we were buried. When He arose, we arose. When He ascended to heaven to sit at the Father’s right hand, we attained that exalted position with Him. In holy wonder the apostle Paul declares, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved); and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Even now God clothes us from head to foot in the garments of Christ’s righteousness, so that when He sees us, He sees Christ in us, and declares us free from sin and guilt, worthy of eternal life. When we finally stand before the great white throne we shall be declared righteous on the basis of Christ’s merit, and be given our own place in glory with Him.
God’s wisdom is also revealed to us in sanctification. Notice the difference, Christ is our Righteousness, but not our holiness. He is our sanctification. Holiness was merited for us on the cross, and is worked in us by Christ’s Spirit. The same Spirit Who gives us our rebirth by implanting the life of Christ in us, also brings us to repentance, and the longing for forgiveness. He likewise teaches us to hate sin, to flee from it, to fight off temptations, and to walk in a new and holy life. We do not merely have the right to be sons; we are sons, with the beginning of eternal life in our hearts, a life which reaches out to Christ and for the perfection to come.
Sum it all up in that one glorious word: Redemption. Christ is our Redeemer, for He is our Savior, our Justifier, our Sanctifier, our Resurrection and our Life. In Him is all our salvation.
Let him who glories, glory in the Lord!