Mediator 5

Isaiah 25:6-8

When I worked for an IT consultant several years ago, the company was very good at keeping its employees happy. When we had semi-annual corporate meetings everything was done up to the nines. The meetings were held in some of the fanciest reception halls and hotels in the city. The dinnerware (plates and utensils) were some of the best. And, of course, the food was terrific – drinks, appetizers, main courses and desserts – from some of the best caterers around.

As intended, the fancy meals and abundant food made me look forward to those tedious meetings.

In Isaiah we have an image of the goodness that comes from God. What will God do? How might people who struggle to have daily food feel about such an image as the one presented in verse 6? What is the “shroud that enfolds all peoples”? What comfort is offered?

The message of today’s passage is a message of hope from the sovereign Lord. It creates a feeling of comfort and joy in knowing that God will give His people abundance. But that abundance is more than just good food and drink. The abundance God gives us is an abundance of grace and mercy. It is an abundance of His love.

The Lord’s Table is an opportunity to enter into the abundant love of God. The table may be set with plain bread and a cup of juice from the store, yet it is symbolic of the grace we find in Jesus Christ. We are promised the removal of that shroud of sin, that shroud of hopelessness that we all may be feeling.

When we come to the Communion table we receive more than just a small bit of bread and a drink of juice. We are accepting the abundance of God’s mercy. We are accepting the mediation of Jesus Christ, welcoming us to the table of forgiveness and salvation.

The banquet God has for us is more than a banquet of food. It is a feast of forgiveness and salvation. While the table may appear sparse the gift from God which awaits all of us who earnestly seek forgiveness with a contrite heart is a profound offering. Through Jesus Christ, the one who mediates this reception of grace, we are invited in to a feast of eternal life in God, the Father.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How will you approach the feast God has set before you?

Mediator 4

Isaiah 66:2

I spent seven years teaching in public schools and I can tell you that it is true that teachers learn the names of troublesome students much sooner than those of the quieter, more obedient students. It is usually not a good sign when a teacher knows your name early in the school year. I tried to be fair and even-handed in my discipline and in my treatment of students, but I must confess I preferred those students who were not a problem in the class. They were the ones who earned my favor and received lenient treatment.

The Book of Isaiah has many messages from God for His people. Today’s passage is a brief comment from the Almighty. What reminder does God give in His rhetorical question? What type of person does God prefer?

In my own times of frustration and aggravation I have raised my voice to God. I have complained when things did not go my way and I was quick to remind the Lord how obedient and good I have been. But the fact is that all my goodness is nothing in the eyes of God.

Whenever we approach our Lord, in times of communion, in times of prayer, in times of worship, we must remind ourselves of how great and vast God is. He has created all things and holds sway over all the earth.

If we desire to make that connection with God, if we desire forgiveness, if we desire to enter into a strong, spiritual relationship with God, we must approach God in humility. We need to have a contrite heart – humble and seeking forgiveness.

And as we approach God we must remember that it is Jesus Christ who makes it possible for us to be in the presence of the Almighty. It is through the atoning sacrifice – the removal of our sins through the crucifixion – that we may be blessed by God.

The celebration of Holy Communion is a time to remember that Jesus acts as our mediator, opening the door for us to receive God’s love and mercy. It is through Christ that we can be forgiven and receive grace from God. It is important that we come to the Lord not with boasting or arrogance, but with a contrite spirit, humbly acknowledging all the blessings of our heavenly Father.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you remind yourself daily to be humble before God?

Mediator 3

John 6:30-35

As I mentioned a few weeks back, our youth took part in a ministry outreach at the Cincinnati Vineyard church. When asked about the experience much of the responses were focused on the bands that played and the great people they met. Our friend then reminded them all not to forget the good work they had done in serving God’s kingdom.

The experience was good. It was enjoyable and it was also a great service to the kingdom of God. But it was easy for the fun experiences to begin to outshine the holy purpose of what was done.

At the beginning of John 6 we have the story of Jesus with his disciples as Jesus feeds a huge crowd of people. Afterward the crowds go out looking for Jesus who has crossed the Sea of Galilee. When they find him they ask questions, but Jesus perceives that they are looking for physical reward, more food, and he teaches them about working for God.

What question does the crowd ask in verse 30? What comment does Jesus make about Moses and the manna from heaven? What do the crowds ask for? How does Jesus describe himself?

So much of what Jesus did in his ministry addressed the physical needs of so many people. He healed the sick. The lame could walk. He caused the blind to see. He drove out demons. He even provided food for the hungry.

It was so easy to begin seeing Jesus as a man from God who was there to make things better, but only in a physical sense. And the same can be said of us. So many can see Jesus as that teacher or helper who leads us through the difficulties of life and makes our physical life easier to handle.

We need to remember that Jesus does more than just meet our physical and emotional needs. He is more than a healer and a helper.

Jesus is that spiritual mediator between us and God. He is the spiritual bread that we can feed on in our souls so that we might move closer to that state of perfection and the presence of God.

By drawing close to Christ not only are we physically and emotionally better off, we gain spiritual strength as well. Jesus is the true bread from heaven. He is the source of sustenance for our souls, so that spiritually we are better off. And when we have that soul nourishment the physical challenges seem so much less important.

By feeding on Christ, learning from him and spending time in his presence, we will find a peace in our very souls, a peace that comes from knowing we are brought to God through the Son.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can your soul feed off the true bread from heaven?

Mediator 2

Romans 7:4-6

When our oldest son reached the age where we thought it was time for him to give up his pacifier we needed to do some negotiating. We reached an agreement that if he gave up his pacifier – a bad thing to cling to – he would get a football – a good thing to have. There are times where parents need to serve as a mediator, working to find a resolution for those who need to change from where they are to where they should be.

In a much greater and more important sense Jesus Christ acts as mediator between us and God. He is the one who works to bring that reconciliation between sinful man and holy God. He is the agent who takes us from the bad place where we are to the good place where we should be.

In this rather complex passage Paul is trying to explain that transformation that we make when we accept the mediating work of Jesus. The first verse (verse 4) may be hard to understand. What did we die to (or give up)? How did we give this up, or die to this? Why do we die to the law?

What was happening to us when we obeyed human laws and human desires (verse 5)? What new approach do we have after accepting Christ (“dying to what once bound us”)?

One complicating issue in much of the New Testament is the term “the law.” There are many passages that point to abandoning “the law,” or talk of ceasing to be slaves to “the law,” or mention being controlled by “the law.” This often leads to the misunderstanding that our faith under Christ means we can ignore all rules and regulations.

But that is not true. What is meant by “the law” in many of these passages is the restrictive and legalistic way of trying to be holy through ritual and actions. Other passages refer to “the law” as the law of nature – or human nature, those things which cause us to do selfish things.

Here Paul points out what Jesus as mediator has done for those in the early church in Rome. He took them from that place where their lives were controlled by strict adherence to difficult religious regulations. These rituals and restrictions did nothing to foster good. Neither did living by following the whims of human nature and human desires that arose.

Instead, the believers died to, or gave up, the restrictive life of religious ritual, and also gave up (died to) human nature. In place of these, the believers began living lives that served God and lived out the teachings of Jesus Christ. With this new attitude and new approach, the faithful were finding freedom and enjoying the good fruit of their work.

We also can be freed from those rituals and rules that seem to inhibit and control us. We can also be freed from the control that human nature and its desires might have on us. We need to accept the mediation of Jesus Christ, who allows us to give up the laws that control us and accept the freedom of his salvation and love.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What in your life should you die to?

Mediator 1

Revelation 19:6-9

There is nothing quite like getting an invitation to a party in the mail. And one of the best invitations is an invitation to a wedding. You are being asked to take part in a holy ceremony, but also to take part in a joyous celebration, a party that recognizes the love that is being shared.

Love is a reason to celebrate. The uniting of two people in love is a reason to be joyful. The holy consecration of this relationship, recognition of this spiritual communion, is a cause for happiness.

In Revelation, as in other passages, our relationship to God is compared to a wedding. What is the atmosphere described in this passage? What is going on? How are the faithful dressed? What is the message from the angel?

It is true that weddings can be a time of tension and nervousness. Those involved have spent a great deal of time planning things and hope that all will go off without a problem. Others may be anxious because they need to wear the best of clothing, clothing that may seem a bit uncomfortable.

Yet, in spite of all the tension and worries, in spite of occasional discomfort, weddings are a time of joy and celebration. They are times of rejoicing, a time to be glad of the union of two people. The celebration is the recognition of the relationship.

We have the image of celebration presented in this passage. And what is the celebration? The celebration is the coming together of God with those who are faithful to him.

Like any other wedding, time has been invested in preparation. Those who are faithful have been called to prepare themselves to encounter that spiritual unity with the Lord. They have been given new linen, new souls, new hearts, cleaned of sin and fears.

Those who believe are being brought as a bride to Jesus, the Lamb of God. That is the reason for Jesus and his sacrifice, to bring us into his presence so that we might be part of this tremendous love relationship.

The images from Revelation are similar to our times of Holy Communion. We are invited by Jesus to come, purified and holy, into a time of reverent unity with our God. And we can only do that through the work, the love and sacrifice of Christ. Jesus has made the sacrifice that allows us to be in this relationship. And Jesus desires to be in this relationship with us.

Let us respond to the invitation of our Lord. Let us take time in communion with God celebrating the love we receive and the love we can return.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can we make Holy Communion a time of celebration?