by Mike Ratliff
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1 ESV)
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 ESV)
If we listen to some today it is as if the Incarnation of Christ was to show Man how to live in such a way that there would be no war, no hunger, no sickness and that the Earth be recovered back to the pristine state of Creation. Was this His mission? I took this last week off because my son was visiting us. He is in his first year of residency at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C. We drank lots of coffee and visited the Apple Store and book stores all over the Kansas City area. I always visit the “Religion” section in these stores. I was struck by the number of books I saw that attempted to blend Jesus Christ into all religions or even non-religious causes. One book I saw was a supposed list of the parallel sayings of Buddha with those of Christ.
Christianity is alone in the world holding that its founder is God Himself. In the post The Excellency of Christ’s Deity we saw how any form of Christianity must hold that Christ is God or it isn’t Christianity. Then we looked at His humanity in The Excellency of Christ’s Humanity. From this we saw that it was through His humanity that we witness and experience His grace. It was as a Man that He suffered and died to redeem His people.
Consider that he is all this in one person. We have not been treating of two, a God and a man; but of one who is God and man. That Word that was with God in the beginning, and was God (John 1:1) is also made flesh (v.14)–not by a conversion of itself into flesh; not by appearing in the outward shape and likeness of flesh; but by assuming that holy thing that was born of the virgin (Luke 1:35), into personal union with himself. So “the mighty God” (Isaiah 9:6) is a “child given” to us; that holy thing that was born of the virgin is called “the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). That which made the man Christ Jesus to be a man was the union of soul and body; that which made him that man, and without which he was not the man, was the subsistence of both united in the person of the Son of God. – from Communion With The Triune God by John Owen pp168-169
Christ was fit to suffer and was able to bear the punishment which was due unto us. No natural person can do this, but Christ can and did.
“even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28 ESV)
Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. (Acts 20:28 ESV)
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. (1 John 3:16 ESV)
Christ came not to be served, but to serve. How? He came to give His life as a ransom for many. Who are they? They are Christ’s flock, the church of God, which Jesus obtained with His own blood. Christ did this because He loves His flock. Because of this love there was room enough in His breast to receive the points of all the swords that were sharpened by the Law against us. (Zechariah 13:7) There was strength enough in His shoulders to bear the burden of curse that was due us. (Psalm 89:19) Knowing this, He was willing to take on and accomplish the work of our redemption, which was the will of God. (Hebrews 10:7-8)
If Christ was only God and not Man, He could not have suffered. If He had not been God, His suffering could not have satisfied the wrath of God. Why? The suffering of a mere man could not bear any proportion to that which is infinite. Some are teaching today that Christ’s crucifixion could not be the means of our redemption because anyone could have been crucified, why couldn’t all those other crucifixions be what paid for it? This is the product of unbelief in the Deity of Christ and in that, only He was a suitable sacrifice, the Lamb of God. Do not listen to any “preacher” or “teacher” who spouts that heresy. We, no matter how holy we live, could not bear the unimaginable burden of all the sins of all the elect for all time being placed on us. This would overwhelm us, and bury us forever out of the presence of God’s love. Therefore, it is Christ alone who was the suitable sacrifice for our sins.
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, (Hebrews 1:1-3 ESV)
Christ purged our sins and was able to do so because He is both God and Man.
Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory. (1 Timothy 3:16 ESV)
It was by His wounds the sheep are healed.
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter 2:24-25 ESV)
That was Christ’s work of redemption. Who is redeemed? Those who are saved are those who believe. (John 3:16) Christ, through His completed work, has become the endless, bottomless fountain of grace to all who believe. This fullness is the great treasury and storehouse of the Church. We must never forget that this fullness does not, nor will it ever, lie in human nature. No, it resides in our mediator, God and Man, our Lord Jesus Christ. The life, joy, relief against sin, and deliverance from the wrath to come are all in our Beloved, not us. This is another very clear reason why our salvation is His work from beginning to end my brethren. He is our mediator, we cannot be our own.
Christ is the only one who is fit to be our mediator. There is no man, no matter how holy or pure he or she becomes, who can serve in this capacity. Only Christ can. Why? He is the only one who is one with God and one with us. We do not pray to saints or angels. We go to the throne of Grace to God Himself. We can do this because we have Christ as our mediator. Not only is He our mediator, He is exalted and invested with all authority. Our mediator has no lack. What He says goes. He is excellent and glorious in this work. There is no end of His excellencies and desirableness by brethren. He is altogether lovely. He is our beloved and our friend. He is not to be trifled with however. We do a great disservice to our Lord when we view Him as just our buddy, but forget the great work of mediation that He does for us all day, every day.