Jesus The God-Man Gave Himself For Us
Topic: Jesus Christ Passage: 1 Timothy 2:5–2:6
Christmas can be a real challenge to some and quite frankly a complete letdown in many ways. I think one of the reasons for this is because we have a Hallmark fairytale idea of what Christmas ought to be like. Everyone alive and home, everyone happy, everything coming together, everyone getting along, and everyone living happily ever after just the way we would like it to be. That’s not the way that life goes.
But the glory of the Christmas story, the glory of Christmas (!) is so much deeper and more inviting and more transforming than that. In our elders and deacons meeting Thursday, Luke said the power of Christmas is seen in the part of the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” when George comes home to a bank examiner and an officer with a warrant for his arrest and says, “Isn’t it wonderful? I’m going to jail! Merry Christmas!” We can say, “Life is hard, even devastating. Merry Christmas!” And of course, we would add, “Christ has come!”
And it’s because of the truth of our text. This text gets to the central point of Christmas. It is what Christmas truly is about. It is at the foundation and bottom of the Advent season. And it almost reads like a short creed. We believe… “There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus who gave himself as a ransom for all.” If we don’t understand this, we really go through this season blindfolded. But if we do understand this and more, rejoice in it and find it fueling our lives, then Advent can be a time where we grow in our adoration for Christ and loving obedience to Christ.
The point of our passage and the point of Christmas: The eternal Son of God came to earth in order to bring men (women, children) back to God. Notice the word Mediator. Jesus is the only mediator. He is the only one who could do this.
Jesus is the Only Mediator
There is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men
A mediator is someone who stands between two offended parties and seeks to bring them together. We need someone to bring us back to God. We need someone who can reconcile us to the God who we have offended. Our text says clearly that there is one person who can successfully go between God and men, and it is Jesus. There is no other. I know that is not fashionable to say these days. It never has been. Whether you are talking about the catholic church with their Maryan teaching - she is a mediator to pray to. And there are many, many other saints who serve as mediator. Or just more generally the pluralistic spirit of the age we live in which says there are many paths to God. Or the new age teaching of the universal Christ that everyone taps into, they just don’t know it. All of that nonsense runs into the hard, brick and mortar truth found here that there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
There is no other. Jesus himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” The eternal Son of God came to earth in order to bring men (women, children) back to God.
We see this when our text tells us that Jesus, our Mediator is “the man Christ Jesus.”
He Is the God Man
He came down… on a rescue mission. He came down. And had to come down, because we could never in a million years climb up to God. George Whitefield sarcastically said, “A man gets to heaven by his own doing! I would as soon think of climbing to the moon on a rope of sand!” Never! Christ, in order to be the mediator we need, had to come down to us. For we could never get to him by our effort.
But it is not just that God came down in the appearance of a human being or in the form of some part of creation. We see that in the OT. No. He came as a man. God became a man. The glorious, eternal God became a human. Hebrews 2 says he was made like us in every way. In fact, Hebrews says the only way Jesus wasn’t like us is that he never sinned! What humility! “Come to earth to taste our sadness, He whose glories knew no end!” That’s what our text says:
There is one God and there is one mediator between God and men. The man, Christ Jesus.
Of course, Paul believed Jesus was God too. Earlier in his ministry, Paul wrote one of the clearest NT passages exalting in the deity of Christ:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things were created through him and for him. (Colossians 1:15-16)
Jesus is the Creator God! And if that’s not clear enough, John 1 opens with the words, “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” - a clear allusion to Genesis 1 and the divinity of Christ. And then a few verses later it says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” And yet here Paul says our Mediator is, “the man, Christ Jesus”. Is he God or man? Yes! Both. He is the God-man. The incarnation of God is a mystery we will never plumb the depths of. God was not immersed into man. Jesus was not half God, half man. In his one Person, he had two natures - a divine nature and a human nature. In theological terms, it is referred to as the hypostatic union. The two natures united in the one person of Jesus Christ! We sing about it. “Veiled in flesh, the godhead see, hail the incarnate deity!”
The eternal Son of God humbled himself by coming down and taking on a human nature. One of the most important passages explaining this is Philippians 2:6-7:
though [Christ] was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Amazingly Jesus Christ, the God man made himself nothing. This does not mean that he became less than God or laid aside some of his divine attributes. How could he remain God if he did so? He made himself nothing or “emptied himself” by laying aside his dignity and glory by taking the form of a servant; by clothing his divinity in the flesh of a fragile, weak little baby. Amazingly, the eternal Son consented to being nursed by his mother Mary, and having his diaper changed, having fragile little arms and legs, being born in a manger, and eventually being subject to sinful, evil men who would crucify Him. The eternal Son of God came to earth in order to bring men (women, children) back to God.
We see this in the words that the God-man, our Mediator “Give himself… for all”
He Gave Himself For All
Who gave himself… for all
Why is gift-giving a beautiful thing at Christmas? Because Jesus gave… He gave himself. With our hearts full of this gift of Christ, we ought to gladly and with full hearts give gifts! Christ gave himself for all… for all who call upon him!
There is a galaxy of glory in this phrase, “he gave himself”. If you merely give something you own to someone, there is a limit on what you give them. If you give yourself for someone, you withhold nothing from them. He gave his entire being for us. What does this mean? We often point to the cross as the place where Jesus gave himself for us. And of course, AMEN, he did! But it means more than that! He gave himself, meaning the totality of himself. He gave all of himself, not just his death.
He gave himself in his incarnation. Hebrews 2:17 says that Jesus was “made like his brothers (you and me) in every way, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest…”. He gave himself for us in becoming like us in the incarnation. And it was for our salvation.
But He also gave himself in his life. We believe that Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life. That he was made like us in every way, yet without sin. But why is that important? Why is it important that Jesus was perfect. It wasn’t to earn anything for himself, for he was already perfect from all eternity. He is God, the One the angels declare “Holy, Holy, Holy.” Why then? He gave himself in life for us. He lived a perfect life for us, as our representative. He represented us in his life. Theologians call this the active obedience of Christ. He was actively obeying the law of God and upholding God’s righteous standards on our behalf or FOR us. And this is no minor thing. What does it mean to be justified? It is more than just to have our sins removed and declared “not guilty”. It is to be declared “just” or “righteous”. And that is only possible if somehow the perfect obedience of Christ could be credited to us so that God counts his obedience in everything as your obedience. By faith in Christ he does! I remember reading about a man named J Gresham Machen, a 20th century theologian who founded Westminster TS. On his deathbed in 1937, he sent a telegram to a friend. It was short and sweet. All it said was, “I am so thankful for the active obedience of Christ. No hope without it.” Christ gave himself for us in life.
Finally, He gave himself in his death. As the sinless, spotless lamb of God, he gave himself for us. He was our substitute. He took our place on the cross. Alissa wrote a song a few years back and there is a line which beautifully sums this up: “You took my place and all my sin erased…” The eternal Son of God came to earth in order to bring men (women, children) back to God.
Finally, we see this in the phrase “Who gave himself as a ransom…”
He Gave Himself As A Ransom
Ransom. A ransom is a payment given in order to redeem or free someone. I remember reading about Frank Sinatra’s son (Jr) being kidnapped and a ransom was demanded. Sinatra Sr immediately put up the ransom of $240K.
As our Mediator, Jesus the God-man gave himself as a ransom. But it begs the question, who does the ransom payment go to? Historically, some have thought the payment went to Satan. He needed to be bought off. Several problems with that - for starters, the bible never suggests that we owe the devil anything. But also, the devil is a rebel. It would be blasphemous if somehow the devil could extort a payment from God. Never.
It is God, who is holy, that we owe a debt to. And it is God who demands a ransom to release us from the condemnation we rightly deserve. This is what makes the words of our Lord on the cross so precious when he uttered “It is finished!”. Paid in full, and then he breathed his last. The payment had been made in full. It was with the precious blood of Christ we have been ransomed (1 Peter 1). And we have been ransomed FOR God. Revelation 5:9 says,
And they sang a new song [to the Lamb], saying, "Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,
We must not have the perverse idea in our mind that the Father is the unreasonable, angry God of bloodlust while Jesus is the One who wants to save. We are ransomed for God so we can know him as Father. That’s what Paul says in Galatians 4:4-5. He shows us it is the Father who sends the Son to redeem us!
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
The Father wants children! He sent the Son to pay the price for us to be adopted into his family! God is holy and cannot look on sin. Sin is high treason against the God who made us. And so the Father undertook himself to send the Son to redeem, and Jesus willingly… gladly came! In his own words, our Lord said, “I came not to be served but to serve and give my life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)
Jesus, our Mediator humbled himself - becoming a man, and gave himself for us in order to bring us back to God! This is our joy and glory! Isn’t it? Jesus, the ONE mediator who alone can bring us back to God has done it - with everlasting JOY! Isaiah 35:10 says,
And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
My prayer is that this truth would be central this Christmas. And if you face disappointments, losses, pain, and suffering you are enabled to say “Isn’t it wonderful, it’s Christmas!” Christ has come. He gave himself for me. He has brought be home to God! Isn’t it wonderful, it’s Christmas.