Author: Ron Graham
Our previous lessons considered Jesus as our intercessor. Now we look at Jesus in a related role, that of mediator. Christ’s intercession and mediation are both part of his work as our great High Priest.
In this lesson we think about the Hebrew writer’s emphasis on the powerful new law or covenant that Jesus mediated to humankind.
The promise of a new covenant —as soon as the promise was uttered— rendered the first covenant old and obsolete and set to disappear. This old temporary covenant, the law of Moses, was merely symbolic of the permanent new covenant. Christ’s law is a new and living way.
The key verses for this study are:
¶6But now he has obtained a more excellent ministry, because he is the mediator of a better covenant based upon better promises... 8'Behold the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel'...13In saying, ‘New’, he made the first covenant old, and if old and aged, then ready to disappear” (Hebrews 8:6,8,13).
¶“15For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant. Since there has been death to redeem disobedience under the first covenant, those who have been called may now receive the promise of eternal inheritance” (Hebrews 9:15).
A mediator, like an intercessor, is a go-between. However, there is a difference in what the mediator does as a go-between. Whereas the intercessor represents a lowly person to a high authority, the mediator works in the opposite direction. The mediator represents the high authority to the lowly person. When the high authority requires something of the lowly person, the mediator informs the lowly person of the requirement, explains it, and assists the lowly person to obey it.
This is especially important when old requirements have been abolished and replaced by a new system. There is also a need for a mediator, when the lowly person is at enmity with the high authority. The mediator’s task then includes trying to bring about the reconciliation of the lowly person with the high authority. The Macquarie Dictionary gives this definition: "mediate ...to effect (a result), convey (a gift), etc. as or by an intermediary or medium..." In Christ’s case, he is conveying a new covenant and effecting obedience to it.
A covenant is a set of requirements and conditions essential to an agreeable and profitable relationship between two parties. For example, a common kind of covenant is a testament expressing the will of one party by which the other party may be his heir and gain an inheritance. The person named as heir must be in agreement and conformity with the terms of the will, or else forfeit the inheritance.
The covenant that Jesus Christ mediates is the gospel (see Hebrews 1:1-2). This is God’s law for becoming a Christan and living as one, in order to gain the inheritance of eternal life in heaven. Note that God describes "the covenant" as "My laws" (Hebrews 8:10).
Christ could not be a high priest under the law of the old covenant. So God enacted a new covenant because "when the priesthood is changed, there also takes place a necessary change of law" (Hebrews 7:12). There was need of a better covenant because the first covenant was not "faultless" (Hebrews 8:7). It lacked "perfection" (Hebrews 7:11). Therefore there had to come "a time of reformation" (Hebrews 9:8-10).