The Perfect Mediator

“Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is across from Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land of Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, the South, and the plain of the Valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. Then the Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have caused you to see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.” So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. And He buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth Peor; but no one knows his grave to this day. Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died. His eyes were not dim nor his natural vigor diminished. And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days. So the days of weeping and mourning for Moses ended.”

Deuteronomy 34:1-8 NKJV

This person died not because his natural lifespan had ended. Instead, it says his eyes were not dim, nor his natural vigor diminished, and yet he died. Thus, he had completely discharged God’s calling and died according to God’s will. This historical truth becomes a metaphor for us today to show that through the Law – represented by Moses – which is the regulations of the flesh, we cannot enter the promised kingdom of God. Joshua was the successor of Moses, who led the Israelites afterwards. Joshua’s name actually means Jesus. It is the same as Jesus. In Aramaic, it is Jesus, and also in Greek, but in Hebrew, it is the same as Joshua.

So Joshua led the people into the land of Canaan. Likewise, Jesus leads us all the way into heaven. Hence, through the past events, we are shown of the reality which will take place. Moses, too, was a mediator. He was God’s mediator. A mediator does not take sides but stands for both parties. We have mediators that work between people. At times, it can be hard to meet someone in person, and another person acts as the mediator. It is for the same reason that ambassadors are sent. They have an intermediary role between nations.

However, it is difficult for the mediators in the world to wholly and perfectly convey or deliver the message from one party to another. Regardless of their efforts, there are bound to be limitations. Who would want to get it wrong when they are working as an intermediator between countries? But it is due to their limited abilities and mistakes that they may not do their jobs well. They can get criticized for it. It could lead to problems for their country. In South Korea, when they were signing the FTA, there were mistakes in the translations, which only served to profit the US but disadvantaging South Korea. That is how they would have understood it.

The people had no idea, only to find out later on. With this example, the translator did not do a good job as a mediator. In this way, humans lack in abilities. Moreover, we are sinners, and therefore, we seek to mediate from our own point of view. Although we are conveying a message, we tend to consider what benefits us and somehow imply that in the message. So when a person speaks, depending on how it is conveyed through the mediator, the recipient may have a completely different impression or understanding compared to what I had intended.

If people are aware of this, they will take extra precautions. But people are so unaware and easily get against others. There is a Jewish proverb that John spoke about Paul. What we can learn from that is not about Paul but about John. We heard about Paul through John’s words, but who do we actually know from it? We may think it is Paul, but it is actually about John who spoke about Paul that we learn. We do not know much about Paul.

Similarly, we might hear about a person through others that he is a fastidious and weird person. But when we come to meet that person, we find out he is not at all like what we heard but is actually a nice person. It is when we hear from others without having an objective stance that such prejudice is formed.

Such can occur between churches, too. In a recent case, we, Seoul Sungrak Church is like the guardian. And then there are branch churches, and sometimes within the same city, another branch church could be built. Then, they also have the mother church, which acts as the guardian. If those churches were not connected in any way, it does not matter. But since both churches are Berean churches, the members may go back and forth between them, listening to this church’s sermon and then the other’s.

As this happens, the pastor is extra cautious. But the members can speak rashly, saying, “This is why our church is better. Our pastor said our church is legitimate.” And others who heard this would go to the other church and say, “The people from the other church said our church is not legitimate.” They say that because that is how they took it. And then they go a step further and tell the pastor.

Then the pastor would report this to the mother church, that so-and-so said such and such. The initial words get miscommunicated several times. In the end, both churches have the wrong idea. “Did they really say that about our church?” “Did Kitaek Lee really say that?” And people do not bother to verify the claims. It is better if they verify and confirm what was actually said, but they do not and just assume what was said.

Then, each side tries to defend themselves in that situation, and more words go back and forth between them, saying, “No, that’s not what we meant. This is what we were trying to say”. But that only makes matters worse. Everyone is hurt as a result. It is all because the middlemen spoke as they felt like. The church members do not think much about these things. For them, it is all about “my church” and saying what they like just to justify themselves.

Inside an organization, there is the main person in charge, then the manager, and the low-level employee. But let us say some people met with the organization’s chairman. They then tell others that the chairman had said certain things to them. But they themselves know exactly what the chairman had said to them. They persuade the chairman into doing something like a new project, telling him that it is absolutely necessary. And the chairman listens and allows them to do it. Then, those people tell the rest of the staff that it was the chairman who instructed them to go start a new project. And when they see someone doing what is different from their ideas, they tell him that the chairman said he should not do what he is doing. But this person goes to ask the chairman himself if he really said so. But the chairman has no idea what he is saying because he never said anything about it in the first place.

In doing so, they would be selling out the chairman if they were not careful. Please do not go elsewhere to sell me out. Do not say that I told you to do it. It causes people to do that all for their own profit while playing the intermediary role. Just like how they change the chairman’s words when they pass it on to the rest of the team and likewise do the same when reporting back to the chairman. As a result, they are causing division.

Even though man tries so hard to do well, how can mediation take place when man’s intentions are evil? Yet Jesus, who is the mediator between God and us, does not have any self-interest; His own interests are totally removed. Hence, He was able to reveal God to us completely from God’s perspective. What would happen if His own interests were involved even slightly? Can man fully understand God? He would have a misconception about God. What is the outcome of misunderstanding? Division. That is how man and God become separated. But Jesus laid down His own life even to reveal God completely from God’s stance, without any of His own self-interests or personal gain. If He testified about God by giving up His own life, it is proof that He revealed God solely from God’s point of view, not His own.

Also, He has to speak to God from man’s position too. But imagine if He holds something against man since it was a man that nailed Him to the cross and did not want man to share in 100% of His glory? What if He says, “How dare those humans who tormented me share equally in the glory that I am to receive? How dare they sit at my right and my left to eat?” and speaks differently about us to God? What happens? We will be alienated from God.

However, Jesus did not have such an idea in mind but sincerely wanted good for us. That is why He said that He wants us to have everything He has. He even prayed to the Father, saying, “May they have everything which You have given Me Father. May they have the same love with which You loved Me. Grant them the Holy Spirit which You have given Me.” In this way, He is continuously at work as our mediator before the Father.

Hence, the One who can perfectly mediate between both sides is Jesus Christ. He is a true man and the true God. Thus, by meeting Him, we do not have any misunderstanding about God, nor does God misunderstand us but accept us. Hallelujah! It is wonderful.

But man is unable to do that. Moses was chosen as the most distinguished out of all men in regard to knowledge and character. It says that no one on earth was as meek as him. So he was able to accept and embrace the people with his meekness and also being understanding of others. Nevertheless, he could not reveal God wholly. Furthermore, he could not speak to God wholly from man’s perspective. His ability was limited. So, what idea did the people have who heard about God through Moses? They misunderstood God. They ended up with a great misunderstanding.

God is full of compassion, yet the people who learned about God through Moses were in fear and trembled before God. Man’s ability is so limited. Similarly, although he wants to convey man to God, that also is not possible with his ability. He cannot wholly represent man. He cannot bear every man’s suffering either. That is why even he could not enter.

God had already judged that man is unable to achieve this, which is why He did not select a mediator from among man, for this is only possible by God. Thus, God Himself came as a man and accomplished it. That is how we came to know 100%. Therefore, we must be thankful to Jesus and acknowledge Him. Jesus is the image of God. This is what we must profess. That it was Jesus who finally showed us God as He is. This is what we are to acknowledge. This means to acknowledge that we have been saved. So, if we cannot profess this, how can we be saved? Jesus is the Son of God. He received 100% of God’s glory, and therefore anyone who sees Him, sees God. For He revealed God as He is, He is the image of God. We are asked to confess just that.

For that is the gospel, and the gospel is the power of God that gives salvation unto him who believes. Thus, all of this came to be by the power of God. So believe it. Believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Acknowledge that by seeing Jesus, you have seen God, and by possessing Jesus’ name, you have His authority. What is so hard about professing this? Profess and acknowledge. He revealed that He is the Son of God and the image of God without seeking any personal gain. If He had even the slightest interest in His own gains, it would have inflicted harm on man. But He has done everything without seeking self-interest.

In the same way, we must not do God’s work for self-interest. If we do, there will be damage done. Countless people will suffer harm. The impact of sin pervades everywhere. It influences and remains even after many generations. Hence, the Bible says sin will go down to the third and fourth generations. It is not only the third and fourth generations, but it seems that the infiltration and spreading of sin will not stop until the end of the human race. Because of the division inside the church, there are almost 230 or 260 denominations in South Korea. How can those denominations unite again? It is almost impossible. The self-interests of the members of those churches caused division, and the same is continuing to happen, causing division after division. Although they want to go back, that leads to more division. It is inevitable. But we who have received grace have to acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God and pray that we can do God’s work selflessly.

Thank You, Father God, for Jesus selflessly revealed God to us so that we have become so blessed. Help us also to testify of Jesus Christ selflessly so that we become the source of blessing through whom many people are blessed. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Sermon by Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
The Director of Sungrak Mission Center
Sermon on November 2, 2012
Translated by Sungrak Mission Center English Team