Many times in our lives, we run into situations where we are out of our depth. When we are children we are under the supervision and mediation of our parents. They take care of us and provide for us. As we grow we run into other situations where we do not have the skills or position to get the things done that we need. We need someone to act as a go-between. When we go to the bank we talk to the teller or banker who is the intermediary between the bank organization and ourselves. When having something built, oftentimes we go through a general contractor who manages other contractors to get things done. He acts on our behalf to get the job done. All that said to make the point that we are very familiar with the concept of mediation. We understand that in different situations we need someone to act on our behalf for whatever reason. When it comes to our relationship with God we also need a mediator.
What Kind of Mediator?
Our question from the catechism today, "What kind of mediator and deliverer must we seek?"(Q. 15), deals with the question of mediator in two parts. The first part is that we need "One who is a true and righteous man." (A.15a) This is super important and should not be missed. Our mediator must be someone who can relate to us and represent us. As an American, this idea is central to the founding of our nation. One of the rallying cries of the founding fathers and part of their reason for breaking away from England is the idea of taxation without representation. They believed and understood that in order for them to be properly represented, the one representing them would need to be one of them. Paul in his letter to the Hebrews tells us that Christ "had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God." (Hebrews 2:17). It is important that Christ is fully man because only someone who has been tempted can help those going through temptation. The guilt was incurred by mankind and a man must pay the price. Paul once again makes this point in 1 Corinthians 15:21. Sin comes into the world through one man and it is only through a man that sin can be taken away.
The Second Part
This understanding that Jesus is fully man is essential but it is equally essential to understand that Jesus is also fully God. The full answer to the question is "One who is a true and righteous man, and yet more powerful than all creatures; that is, one who is at the same time true God." (A. 15) The reason that the catechism spends so many questions, questions 2-14, dealing with the issue of sin is to show us the depth of our sin and the inability of humanity to pay for their own sin. The debt that is incurred is an infinite debt because it has been incurred against an infinite God. This is why the punishment for any sin is death. This does not mean that all sins are equal, far from it, but that any and all sin has an infinite punishment. Only someone who is of infinite worth can pay an infinite debt. We as fallen creatures cannot even rightly understand the depth of our sin. We can barely comprehend the truth that apart from God's grace we are totally depraved and lost. We are subject to the wrath of God. His wrath toward sin is infinite. He is jealous for his glory and holiness and our sin is an affront to both of these things. We need a savior and mediator who can pay the infinite debt and one who is like us in every respect but without sin.
Our Savior and Our King
I love the hymn Behold Our God. The third verse reads "Who has felt the nails upon his hands, bearing all the guilt of sinful man? God eternal, humbled to the grave, Jesus, Savior, risen now to reign." He is our King and our Lord because of who he is and what he has done. He had done what no other could. He has satisfied the demands of justice and wrath for his people. He who is fully human, with all that entails. He was born, he wept, bled, felt hunger and thirst, and felt the sting of sadness and betrayal. He knew the frustration and anger, and yet never sinned. He willingly gave his life as a sacrifice so that his people might be fully known by him. When we truly understand this there can only be one response, to cry out in humility and wonder, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God almighty" "You will reign forever, Let your glory fill the earth."
Soli Deo Gloria