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Jesus, Mediator of a New Covenant

(Homily by Pastor Victor M. Reyes-Prieto. Delivered at Holy Trinity Anglican Parish of Burin, Monday, March 21, 2016 for Holy Week Service)  Right-Click on image to see full resolution.

Victor M. Reyes-Prieto at Holy Trinity Anglican Parish of Burin, Newfoundland

Illustration

My Seminary professor recounts the days when he graduated with a PhD in Biblical Hebrew Language and Literature at the University of California, Berkeley.  At the time there was not one single institution that would hire him.  He jokes of those days trying to find a job as he supplemented his income doing construction work and yard cleaning.  A thought came to his mind that, perhaps, a PhD stands for Post Hole Digger.

Dr. Roy Gane had studied under the direction of Jacob Milgrom.  Dr. Milgrom was a prominent American Jewish Bible scholar, a conservative rabbi, who spent most of his career teaching at the University of California, Berkeley.  He was the head of the Department of Near Eastern Studies and known for his research on Biblical purity laws.  He was considered the world's leading expert on the book of Leviticus.  Yet, Dr. Roy Gane, Milgrom’s disciple in a way, needed more than just a renown teacher if he was going to get a real job.

He was surprised one day when he received a call to teach at a university.  Someone had recommended him to a teaching position.  The chairman of the Religion Department did not know him, yet he called to offer him a job because someone had spoken up for him.  Someone who knew him personally had advocated him. 

Today, Dr. Gane is an expert in the book of Leviticus and Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Languages in the Old Testament Department at Andrews University.  Among his publications is a set of two books he was invited to write by the New International Version Application Commentary committee to write the commentaries for the books of Leviticus and Numbers.  His potential as a scholar was finally realized just because someone mediated for him.

Christ the Ultimate Mediator

In like manner, Christ is the ultimate Mediator for all of humanity.  You and I do not need anyone to mediate for us before our Heavenly Father.  Jesus can properly represent you and me in the heavenly courts because He is the Word made flesh that dwelled among us —God in the flesh.

Jesus is our High Priest.  “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15, NIV)

The sacrifice of Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice.  We no longer need “the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the [sanctuary in heaven] once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” The book of Hebrews faithfully records that Jesus entered “the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation”  —a heavenly one in comparison to the Mosaic tabernacle in the wilderness.

The blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, is able cleanse our consciences from dead works so we may serve the living God.

The author of Hebrews gives this as a reason only Jesus can mediate between humanity and God.  Jesus is our High Priest interceding for us in heaven before the Father.  Jesus is without sin; only a sinless Being like Jesus can mediate between God and humans.  Only Jesus can stand before God without a single spot or stain of sin.  Only Jesus can cleanse our consciences from sin or dead works.  Only Jesus can empower us to live holy lives before God.

The New International Version of the Bible renders Hebrews 9:15 as such:  “For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.”

Jesus, the mediator of the New Covenant, the one we are under today, our Lord only, can forgive sins.  This is why in Hebrews 4 it is stated: “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

The apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 2:5 writes: “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all…”  If there had more than one mediator, the apostle Paul would have stated this somewhere in the his epistles.  The General Epistles also reject the idea of multiple mediators, so do the Gospels.  “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus…”

The Gospel of John describes Jesus as a ladder, a bridge, a shuttle between this world and God’s throne in heaven.  Directly from the mouth of our Lord Jesus speaking to Nathanael says: “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’  the Son of Man.” (John 1:51, NIV)  Jesus is the bridge God has provided because Jesus’ life, suffering, death and resurrection is the ultimate expression of God’s love for all of humanity.

Why a Mediator?

Sin has separated us from God.  Whereas at one point in Eden we enjoyed face-to-face communication with our Creator, now we are separated from His holy Presence. In Eden, we humans did not have to hide from the presence of God.  God did not have to remove Himself so we may not be destroyed by His holy Presence.

A biblical definition of sin is found in 1 John 3:4. “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.”  This is from the New International Version of the Bible.  The old King James Bible (favorite among our Anglican friends) reads: “Sin is the transgression of the law.” It is the love of God that provides Jesus as a Mediator between heaven and earth.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NIV)
 
Christ’s sacrifice and mediation do not make God love us; they result from God loving us.  We do not need a mediator to persuade God to reach out to us.  Rather we need a mediator so that we might come to God. (Gane, Altar Call, p. 171)

Only Jesus can do that.  Again, the testimony of the Holy Scriptures: “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.  …Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15, 16, NIV)

We need Jesus as Mediator so that we might go to God directly confessing our sins and by His grace we can ask Him to give us true repentance.  "Our God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."  (1 John 1:9, NIV)  Only our Creator holds the keys to life and death.  When He forgives our sins, we pass from death onto life.  This is why Jesus with confidence is able to resurrect Lazarus who was dead in the tomb for 3 days, already decomposing.  This miracle is to give us encouragement even today, that we may have confidence that when we die in Jesus you can look forward to the resurrection morning.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the apostle Paul reveals to us a mystery found in 1 Corinthians 15: 51-58, NIV.

Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep (referring to death), but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet (that is, at the Second Appearing of Our Lord).  For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.  So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’

‘O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?’

The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord
.”

The book of Leviticus is the foundation for the teachings of the Book of Hebrews.  It is important, for this reason to follow the counsel of the apostle Paul, that all Scripture is inspired by God, even the book of Leviticus that presents Jesus as the One and Only Mediator between God and humanity.

May the Word of God take hold of your souls and transform your mind so you may understand the will of God for your lives.
 

Liturgy of the Worship Service

(Sponsored by the Burin North Ministerial Association.  Host: Holy Trinity Anglican Parish of Burin.  Monday, March 21, 2016, 7 PM.)

Welcome (Rev. Terry Caines, Anglican)

Invocation and Opening Verses
Stay with us, Lord, for evening draws on, and the day is almost over. Luke 24.29
Jesus said, “I am the light of the world; whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8.12

Opening Hymn     What a Friend We Have In Jesus

Confession and Absolution (Pastor Jamie Warren, Calvary Pentecostal)

L     O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
C     You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.
L     You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.
C     Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
L     If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. In the confidence of God’s grace in Christ, let us confess our sins to him.

(Pause for self-reflection)

L     The Apostle John, speaking by the Holy Spirit, promises that if anyone sins “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”
C     Thanks be to God. Amen.

The Prayer of the Day (Rev. Robert Tuck)
Holy God, in eternity past, you saw our willful fall into sin, and the misery and death it brought upon us. Yet you loved us as the crown of your creation and sent your beloved Son Jesus Christ, your faithful Servant, to be our Savior. By his suffering, bloody stripes, death and resurrection he became for us the Healing Lord. May your Holy Spirit open our eyes that we see Jesus by faith and thus enjoy eternal healing of body and soul, all to your glory. In the name of Jesus we pray, one God with you and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Old Testament Reading (Fr. Cecil Critch)            Isaiah 42:1-9

Psalm 36:5-11 (Rev Simon Muwow)

L    Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, and your faithfulness to the clouds.
C     Your righteousness is like the strong mountains, your justice like the great deep; you save both man and beast, O Lord.
L    How priceless is your love, O God! your people take refuge under the shadow of your wings.
C    They feast upon the abundance of your house; you give them drink from the river of your delights.
L    For with you is the well of life, and in your light we see light.
C    Continue your loving-kindness to those who know you, and your favor to those who are true of heart.
L    Let not the foot of the proud come near me, nor the hand of the wicked push me aside.
(Together) God of justice and of mercy, open the eyes of sinners that they may see the light of your truth, know the power of your love, through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

Epistle Reading (Lieut. Devin Reid)                   Hebrews 9:11-15

Hymn     Amazing Grace

Gospel Reading (Rev. Jephat N.?)                John 12:1-11

Reflection (Pastor Victor Reyes-Prieto, Jesus, the Mediator of the New Covenant)

Offertory Hymn     How Great Thou Art

Prayer Over Gifts (In Unision.  Rev. Terry Caine)

Ruler of all creation, your Son was anointed with costly oil in preparation for death and the grave.  Receive all we offer you this day for the sake of Him Who died that we might live, Jesus Christ the Lord.  Amen

(Tonight's offering will go to the Association of New Canadians)

Prayers of the People (Rev. Gloria Wendover)

(With confidence and trust let us pray to the Lord, saying,“Lord, have mercy.”)

For the one holy catholic and apostolic Church throughout the world, we pray to you, Lord.
Lord, have mercy.

For the mission of the Church, that in faithful witness it may preach the gospel to the ends of the earth, we pray to you, Lord.
Lord, have mercy.

For peace in the world, that a spirit of respect and reconciliation may grow among all nations and peoples, we pray to you, Lord.
Lord, have mercy.

For the poor, the persecuted, the sick, and all who suffer; for refugees, prisoners, and all in danger; that they may be relieved and protected, we pray to you, Lord.
Lord, have mercy.

For all whom we have injured or offended, we pray to you, Lord.
Lord, have mercy.

For grace to amend our lives and to further the reign of God, we pray to you, Lord.
Lord, have mercy.


The Lord’s Prayer (Lieut. Laura Reid)
And now, as our Saviour Christ has taught us, we are bold to say,
Our Father…

The Benediction (Lieut. Laura Reid)

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. Amen.

Closing Hymn      Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross



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