According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word mediator in English means “one who mediates” or more specifically, “one that mediates between parties at variance.”
The word carries the idea of someone who is a go-between for two arguing parties, usually through some sort of compromise.
Although the English meaning of mediator has the connotation of compromise to arrive at a reconciliation between two conflicting parties, the biblical word does not involve compromise but instead holds a deeper and richer meaning.
In the Bible, Christ as Mediator reconciled man and God and is the only One who can mediate to bring about a relationship between God and man (John 14:6).
Jesus’ role as mediator is linked to His sacrificial death on the cross. To understand how Jesus is our mediator, one must understand why a mediator was needed, what Jesus did to act as a mediator, and why He is the only One who could bring reconciliation between man and God.
How Jesus Is Our Mediator
Compounded onto the problem that humans are separated from God is the fact that there is nothing humans can do about the situation.
Doing good works or trying to fulfill the Law is useless since all of mankind’s good deeds are filthy rags in the sight of God (Isaiah 64:6).
Man’s sin is too overwhelming. No amount of good works or following a set of religious rules can make a human right with God (Romans 3:28).
On the other side of the situation, God is holy and just. He loves mankind, whom He created, but God cannot arbitrarily forgive man’s sin.
His holiness and justice cannot overlook the sinfulness of humans, for this would compromise His holy nature. Instead, God took the initiative in reconciling Himself to man (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).
Therefore, the reason a mediator is needed is because mankind cannot be reconciled to God on their own. Neither can God arbitrarily forgive sin without justice being satisfied. A mediator was needed to make things right, someone who was perfectly sinless, yet human.
Understanding Our Mediator and Savior
The only way man could be reconciled to God would be for someone to live a sinless life and somehow pay the sin debt of mankind.
Because no mere man could act in this position of mediator, God the Son stepped in to reconcile Himself to the world by adding humanity to His deity (Philippians 2:6-8).
In this way, Jesus is completely God, able to take on the sins of the world, while also being a sinless man who died in place of humanity.
In its original Greek meaning, mediator means someone who is a go-between or acts as a reconciler (Strong’s Greek: 3316). Like a lawyer in a court, Jesus acts on mankind’s behalf as the One responsible for them and their future.
In the New Testament, the author of Hebrews used familiar Old Testament imagery and examples to convey the importance of Jesus as the Mediator.
In the Old Testament, under the Law, the blood of bulls and goats were sprinkled on people to make them ceremonially or outwardly clean (Hebrews 9:13).
In contrast, Jesus, the perfect High Priest and Mediator, shed His blood once for all for the sins of mankind (Hebrews 9:12, 14).
Unlike the sacrificial system under the old covenant, 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” (Hebrews 9:15, NIV).
Only One Mediator?
As has been shown, Jesus is a perfect Mediator. He died in place of mankind to reconcile humans to God (Romans 5:10).
When the Father looks at those who have trusted in Jesus for salvation, He sees Jesus’ work on the cross and His resurrection.
Similar to the role of a lawyer, Jesus defends believers and argues that they are innocent, not based on what they have done, but because of what He has done (1 John 2:1-2).
He shed His blood as ransom for the world, satisfying the sin debt against the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:21).
What, then, can be made of claims by other religions which say that dead “saints” and deceased loved ones can mediate on behalf of the living?
Buddhism places a high dependence on praying to deceased loved ones, while Roman Catholics teach that “saints” can act as intercessors.
A common argument by Catholics is that saints have direct access to Christ and can thus ask for grace and blessing for those who pray to them.
There are many problems with arguing that there is more than one mediator for Christians. First, the idea that saints or deceased loved ones can intercede for Christians to ask for grace is not found in Scripture.
Salvation is always by grace through faith, which is a gift from the Lord (Ephesians 2:8-9). The only way to receive this grace is by believing in Jesus’ redeeming work, which is completely sufficient (Romans 10:9).
Also, the Bible plainly states there is only one mediator. As 1 Timothy 2:5 states, “there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus” (NIV).
Angels, deceased loved ones, and “saints” are unable to reconcile man to God. Only God the Son, Jesus Christ, could act in the role of Mediator.
Only the blood of Christ was completely sufficient to pay for sin and put man in a right relationship with God.
A New Life and a New Covenant
Although mankind’s sin caused their separation from God, the Lord graciously chose to fix the conflict Himself.
To be the only Mediator means Christ stands as the One who clears believer’s guilt, argues on their behalf, and guarantees eternal life for all who believe in Him (John 3:16).
Amazingly, Jesus mediates on behalf of undeserving humans. The sacrifice He gave and the atonement He achieved on the cross are inseparable from His role as Mediator.
Thankfully, individuals do not have to rely on their own actions or seek to pray to the dead to experience salvation and have a relationship with God (2 Timothy 1:9).
Christ has worked on man’s behalf, bringing in a new and better covenant with the assurance of everlasting life for all who trust in Him.
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Sophia Bricker is a freelance writer who enjoys researching and writing articles on biblical and theological topics. In addition to contributing articles about biblical questions as a contract writer, she has also written for Unlocked devotional. She holds a BA in Ministry, a MA in Ministry, and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing to develop her writing craft. As someone who is passionate about the Bible and faith in Jesus, her mission is to help others learn about Christ and glorify Him in her writing. When she isn’t busy studying or writing, Sophia enjoys spending time with family, reading, drawing, and gardening.