The central truth of all truth is the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was a man on earth and His life here closed upon a malefactor’s cross. He is a man now at the right hand of the Majesty on High, having been raised from among the dead by the glory of the Father. But He who was man in humiliation on earth, who is still a man in exaltation in heaven, and who will never surrender manhood is also God, eternal in being and omnipotent in power. He was God before He took up manhood. He did not cease to be God when He tabernacled among men. What He was, He is, and shall be forever.
The necessity of the deity of Jesus meets us first in relation to men being brought to God in righteousness. No purpose of God for men could be realized if they were not brought to Him righteously according to His eternal justice and holiness. How could this be done, and who was able to do it? The question is not a new one. It was asked by Job long centuries ago when he cried, “How should man be just with God?” (Job 9:2). Throughout the ninth chapter of Job we find him testing one by one the suggestions that arose in regard to it. Finally, apparently hopeless of finding an answer, he broke out in that soul-stirring lament, “He is not a man, as I am, that I should answer Him, and we should come together in judgment. Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both. Let Him take His rod away from me, and let not His fear terrify me: then would I speak, and not fear Him; but it is not so with me” (Job 9:32-35).
Do you perceive where he stood, and can you interpret his feelings? He said in effect: “I know that I have sinned against Him, and if He were a man, as I am, I could understand His displeasure; I could estimate the extent of my offense, and I could go to Him and make restitution for the wrong that I have done and so be at peace with Him. But He is not a man as I am, and I cannot enter into judgment with Him. I do not know where to begin the argument. I cannot measure the demands of His justice. I have no ground upon which to stand before Him. The gulf between us is immeasurable from my side. He is almighty, holy, and just; I am weak, sinful and guilty. His very holiness is a terror to me; it makes me afraid.”
Job could have hope only if a daysman, or mediator, appeared in the case. He must be one who can stand between the two parties—between God, infinitely holy and just, and the sinner, guilty and conscience-stricken—and put his hand upon us both; and, says Job, “I know no one who can do it. I have felt the need of such an one, longed for him, sought for him, but I have not found him.”
Mark well the qualifications that the needed mediator must possess. He must stand between God and the sinner, and by so doing declare his willingness to take up the case, and he must be able to put his hand upon both. I beg of you not to miss the meaning of that. I might come to you and lay my hand upon your shoulder and talk familiarly with you, for we are equals. But how could a man lay his hand upon God, or upon the throne of God? In 2 Samuel 6 we read of Uzzah, who held out his hand to steady the ark, a symbol of God’s throne and presence in Israel. The moment his fingers touched it he fell to the earth a corpse. Learn from that solemn incident that no man can put his hand upon God or the throne of God and live. Yet the mediator for whom Job cried in his despair must be able to put his hand upon God. He must be God’s equal, for none less could intervene or be of use to Job or to us. But he must also put his hand upon men. He must be one of us, able to take our part and to identify with our vast indebtedness. He must be God and man.
It should be evident to us all, as it was to Job, that we cannot produce such an One, for no man, even the best, could exalt himself to deity. Note how the attempt to do so by the coming antichrist, “who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4) will be the climax of all blasphemy and will result in his being cast alive into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20). Men cannot bring forth the needed mediator. They have no hope except in God, and the One whom Job could not find on earth has come from heaven.
The New Testament is the book of the Mediator, and tells of the coming of the One who was able to speak to man on God’s behalf and to speak to God on man’s behalf, for He is God and Man.
Being God, He knew according to God’s perfect estimate the effect to the universe of man’s disregard of God’s will, the extent to which man’s sin jeopardized the glory of God, and the demands of the Eternal Throne in regard to the violation of its just decrees. He knew how completely man’s self-will had made him the slave of sin, how great the gulf was that separated him from God, and how utterly powerless man was to rectify the awful wrong that he had committed. He knew the penalty that had to be paid, the conflict that had to be waged, and the work that had to be done. It was the will of God that every problem raised by man’s sin should be taken up and settled in a way in which all God’s attributes should be glorified, and salvation secured for us. The Son, coming to accomplish the will of God, said, “A body hast Thou prepared Me … Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of Me,) to do Thy will, O God” (Hebrews 10:5,7). He became man to stand in our place before God, to take the bill of our terrible indebtedness, and to fully meet it so that God Himself could write “Settled” across the account. This involved for Him the sorrows of Calvary. There, as the holy Substitute for men, He “gave Himself a ransom.” The sacrifice that He made has met all the claims of the throne, and He is now the “one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).
What a Saviour is Jesus! How worthy is He of our fullest praise! He stooped to us that He might tenderly and graciously put His hand upon us, degraded though we were. He has touched us with the touch of a man, yet, as He was never less than God, God has touched us in Him. He has put one nail-pierced hand upon us, and the other is placed upon the throne of God. With one hand He has offered the fullest satisfaction to the righteous claims of God, and with the other, which will never relinquish its hold, He has bestowed fullness of grace upon us. He brings us to God and gives us a place in His presence without fear, in everlasting peace established upon the infallible and immovable foundation of divine righteousness. All this is secured for us by a divine Person for the eternal glory of God.
Thus are we justified before God, and all our fear is removed.
—Words of Truth, July 1966