Christ - Mediator of the New Covenant for Believers - by Thomas Watson (1620-1686)Articles on the Christian Walk, Systematic Theology and Practical Theology
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Thomas Watson (1620-1686) – non-Conformist Puritan preacher and prolific author of A Body of Divinity, The Lord’s Prayer, The Ten Commandments, Heaven Taken by Storm, and numerous others. Actual place and date of birth unknown.
“Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant”—Heb. 12:24.
Jesus Christ is the sum and quintessence of the gospel; the wonder of angels; the joy and triumph of saints. The name of Christ is sweet, it is as music in the ear, honey in the mouth, and a cordial at the heart. I shall waive the context, and only speak of that which concerns our present purpose. Having discoursed of the covenant of grace, I shall speak now of the Mediator of the covenant, and the restorer of lapsed sinners, “Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant.”
There are several names and titles in Scripture given to Christ, as the great restorer of mankind:
I. Sometimes he is called a Saviour. “His name shall be called Jesus” (Matt. 1:21). The Hebrew word for Jesus signifies a Saviour, and whom he saves from hell he saves from sin; where Christ is a Saviour he is a sanctifier. “He shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). There is no other Saviour. “Neither is there salvation in any other” (Acts 4:12). As there was but one ark to save the world from drowning, so there is but one Jesus to save sinners from damning. As Naomi said to her daughters-in-law, “Are there yet any more sons in my womb?” (Ruth 1:11), so has God any other sons in the womb of his eternal decree, to be saviors to us, besides Christ? “Where shall wisdom be found? The depth saith, It is not in me: and the sea saith, It is not with me” (Job 28:12, 14). Where shall salvation be found? The angel says, It is not in me; mortality says, It is not in me; the ordinance says, It is not in me. Christ alone is the well-spring of life. “Neither is there salvation in any other.”
II. Sometimes Christ is called a Redeemer. “The Redeemer shall come to Sion” (Isa. 59: 20). Some understand it of Cyrus, others of an angel; but the most ancient Jewish doctors understood it of Christ, the Redeemer of the elect. “My Redeemer liveth” (Job 19:25). The Hebrew word for Redeemer signifies such a one as is near akin, and has right to redeem a mortgage; so Christ is near of kin to us, being our elder brother, therefore has the best right to redeem us.
III. Christ is called a Mediator in the text. “Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant.” The Greek word for Mediator signifies a middle person, one that makes up the breach between two disagreeing parties. God and we were at variance by sin, now Christ mediates and becomes umpire between us; he reconciles us to God through his blood, there f o re he is called the Mediator of the new covenant. There is no way of communion and intercourse between God and man but in and through a Mediator. Christ takes away the enmity in us, and the wrath of God, and so makes peace. Nor is Christ a Mediator of reconciliation only, but intercession. “Christ is entered, not into the holy place made with hands, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Heb. 9:24). When the priest had slain the sacrifice he was to go with the blood before the altar and mercy-seat, and show it to the Lord. Now, in Christ, our blessed Mediator, consider two things. 1. His person. 2. His graces.
A. His person. His person is amiable; he is made up of all love and beauty. He is the effigy of his Father. “The express image of his person” (Heb. 1:3). Consider,
1. Christ’s person in two natures.
a. Look upon his human nature as incarnate. The Valentinians deny his human nature; but John 1:14 says, “The Word was made flesh.” It is spoken of Christ the promised Messiah. Christ took our flesh, that the same nature which sinned might suffer; and “The Word was made flesh,” that through the glass of his human nature we might look upon God.
Why is Christ called the Word?
Because, as a word is the interpreter of the mind, and reveals what is in a man’s breast; so Jesus Christ reveals his Father’s mind to us concerning the great matters of our salvation. John 1:1 Were it not for Christ’s manhood, the sight of the Godhead would be formidable to us; but through Christ’s flesh we may look upon God without terror. And Christ took our flesh, that he might know how to pity us; he knows what it is to be faint, sorrowful, tempted. “He knows our frame” (Psa. 103:14). And he took our flesh, that he might (as Augustine says) ennoble our human nature with honor. Christ having married our flesh has exalted it above the angelic nature.
b. Look upon Christ’s divine nature. Christ may be fitly compared to Jacob’s ladder, which reacheth from earth to heaven (Gen. 28:12). Christ’s human nature was the foot of the ladder, which stood upon earth; his divine nature the top of the ladder, which reaches to heaven. This being a grand article of our faith I shall amplify it. I know the Arians, Socinians, and Ebionites would rob Christ of the best jewel of his crown, his Godhead; but the Apostolical, Nicene, Athanasian creeds, affirm Christ’s Deity; and to this the churches of Helvetia, Bohemia, Wittenberg, Transylvania, &c., give their full consent. The Scripture is clear for it. He is called “the mighty God” (Isa. 9:6). “And in him dwells the fullness of the Godhead” (Col. 2:9). He is of the same nature and essence with the Father. So Athanasius, Basil, Chrysostom. Is God the Father called Almighty? So is Christ. “The Almighty” (Rev. 1:8). Is God the Father the heart – searcher? So is Christ. “He knew their thoughts” (John 2:25). Is God the Father omnipresent? So is Christ. “The Son of Man which is in heaven” (John 3:13). Christ as God was then in heaven, when as man he was upon the earth.
Is Christ eternal?
Christ is the everlasting Father (Isa. 9:6), may be urged against the Cerinthian heretics, who denied the pre-existence of Christ’s Godhead, and held that Christ had no being till he derived it from the Virgin Mary. Does divine worship belong to the first person in the Trinity? So it does to Christ (John 5:23). “Let all the angels of God worship him” (Heb. 1:6). Is creation proper to the Deity? this is a flower of Christ’s crown. “By him were all things created” (Col. 1:16). Is invocation proper to the Deity? this is given to Christ. “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59). Is recumbency [rest or repose] and trust peculiar to God the Father? this is given to Christ. “Ye believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:1). Christ must needs be God, not only that the divine nature might support the human from sinking under God’s wrath, but also to give value and weight to his sufferings. Christ being God, his death and passion are meritorious. Christ’s blood is called sanguis Dei, the blood of God, in Acts 20:28, because the person who was offered in sacrifice was God as well as man. This is an invincible support to believers; it was God who was offended, and it was God who satisfied. Thus Christ’s person is in two natures.
2. Consider Christ’s two natures in one person, God-man. “God manifest in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3:16). Christ had a twofold substance, divine and human, yet not a twofold subsistence; both natures make but one Christ. A scion may be grafted into another tree — a pear-tree into an apple; which, though it bear different fruits, is but one tree; so Christ’s manhood is united to the Godhead in an ineffable manner; yet though there are two natures, yet but one person. This union of the two natures in Christ was not by transmutation, the divine nature changed into the human, or the human into the divine; nor by mixture, the two natures mingled together, as wine and water are mixed; but both the natures of Christ remain distinct, and yet make not two distinct persons, but one person; the human nature not God, yet one with God.
B. Consider Christ, our Mediator, in his graces. These are the sweet savor of his ointments, that make the virgins love him. Christ, our blessed Mediator, is said to be “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). He had the anointing of the Spirit without measure (John 3:34). Grace in Christ is after a more eminent and glorious manner than it is in any of the saints.
1. Jesus Christ, our Mediator, has perfection in every grace (Col. 1:19). He is a panoply, magazine and storehouse of all heavenly treasure, all fullness. This no saint on earth has; he may excel in one grace, but not in all; as Abraham was eminent for faith, Moses for meekness; but Christ excels in every grace.
2. There is a never-failing fullness of grace in Christ. Grace in the saints is ebbing and flowing, it is not always in the same degree and proportion; at one time David’s faith was strong, at another time so faint and weak, that you could hardly feel any pulse. “I said, I am cut off from before thine eyes” (Psa. 31:22). But grace in Christ is a never-failing fullness, it never abated in the least degree, he never lost a drop of his holiness. What was said of Joseph in Gen 49:23, may more truly be applied to Christ. “The archers shot at him, but his bow abode in strength.” Men and devils shot at him, but his grace remained in its full vigor and strength: “his bow abode in strength.”
3. Grace in Christ is communicative. His grace is for us; the holy oil of the Spirit was poured on the head of this blessed Aaron, that it might run down upon us. The saints have not grace to bestow on others. When the foolish virgins would have bought oil of their neighbour virgins, saying, “Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out” (Matt. 25:8), the wise virgins answered, “Not so, lest there be not enough for us and you.” The saints have no grace to spare for others; but Christ diffuses his grace to others. Grace in the saints is as water in the vessel, grace in Christ is as water in the spring. “Of his fulness have all we received and grace for grace” (John 1:16). Set a glass under a still and it receives water from it, drop by drop; so the saints have the drops and influences of Christ’s grace distilling upon them. What a rich consolation is this to those who either have no grace, or their stock is low! They may go to Christ, the Mediator, as a treasury of grace: Lord, I am indigent; but whither shall I carry my empty vessel, but to a full fountain? “All my springs are in thee” (Psa 87:7). I am guilty, thou hast blood to pardon me; I am polluted, thou hast grace to cleanse me; I am sick unto death, thou hast the balm of Gilead to heal me. Joseph opened all the storehouses of corn: Christ is our Joseph, that opens all the treasuries and storehouses of grace, and communicates to us. He is not only sweet as the honey-comb, but drops as the honey-comb. In Christ our Mediator there is a cornucopia, and fullness of all grace; and Christ is desirous that we should come to him for grace, like the full breast that aches till it be drawn.
Use one: Admire the glory of this Mediator; he is God-man, he is coessentially glorious with the Father. All the Jews that saw Christ in the flesh, did not see his Godhead; all that saw the man did not see the Messiah. The temple of Solomon within was embellished with gold; travelers, as they passed along, might see the outside of the temple, but only the priests saw the glory which sparkled within the temple; so believers only, who are made priests unto God, see Christ’s glorious inside, the Godhead shining through the manhood (Rev. 1:16).
Use two: If Christ be God-man in one person, then look unto Jesus Christ alone for salvation. There must be something of the Godhead to fasten our hope upon; in Christ there is Godhead and manhood hypostatically united. If we could weep rivers of tears, out-fast Moses on the mount, if we were exact moralists, touching the law blameless, if we could arrive at the highest degree of sanctification in this life, all this would not save us, without looking to the merits of him who is God. Our perfect holiness in heaven is not the cause of our salvation, but the righteousness of Jesus Christ. To this therefore did Paul flee, as to the horns of the altar. “That I may be found in him, not having my own righteousness” (Phil. 3:9). It is true, we may look to our graces as evidences of salvation, but to Christ’s blood only as the cause. In time of Noah’s flood, all that trusted to the high hills and trees, and not to the ark, were drowned. “Looking unto Jesus;” and so look unto him, as to believe in him, that so Christ may not only be united to our nature, but to our persons (Heb. 12:2). “That believing, you may have life through his name” (John 20:31).
Use three: Is Jesus Christ God and man in one person? This, as it shows the dignity of believers, that they are nearly related to one of the greatest persons that is, “In him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily,” so it is of unspeakable comfort (Col. 2:9). Christ’s two natures being married together, the divine and human, all that Christ in either of his natures can do for believers, he will do. In his human nature he prays for them, in his divine nature he merits for them.
Use four: Admire the love of Christ our Mediator; that he should humble himself, and take our flesh, that he might redeem us. Believers should put Christ in their bosom, as the spouse did. “Lie betwixt my breasts” (Cant. 1:13). What was said of Ignatius, that the name of Jesus was found written in his heart, should be verified of every saint; he should have Jesus Christ written in his heart.