Devotional Word for Monday, October 5, 2020
This morning we are going to continue looking at the Heidelberg Catechism by looking at the manner in which our Redeemer and Mediator is truly God and truly man. Before we seek to rush ahead saying, “We have already touched on that. Let’s move on,” we need to remember that the church for the last 450 years has made good use of the Heidelberg Catechism. When it slows down a bit, we should be mindful of our spiritual forebears and elders and take heed to what it says. We might find that it goes slow for a reason. The ideas might be so important we ought not neglect proper reflection upon them.
Question 16 asks, “Why must He (that is our Redeemer and Mediator) be a true and righteous man?” The answer says, “Because God’s righteousness requires that man who has sinned should make payment for sin, but the man who is himself a sinner cannot pay for others.” Paul highlights this close connection between the humanity of the sinner and the humanity of the Redeemer. Consider Romans 5:12. Paul writes, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin and so death spread to all men, because all sinned…” We have reflected upon this before. Adam sinned and all those who are his descendants sinned with him. So, Paul goes on in verse 15 to say, “…much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to many.” Just as the death came into the world by man, so also mercy and grace in the forgiveness of sin comes into the world by man. Similarly, Paul connects Adam and our Mediator in 1 Corinthians 15:21 saying, “For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. We must have a Mediator who is a man because we had a sinful father, Adam, who was a man. Parenthetically, if we do not believe that Adam was a real person as some are in the habit of thinking, then we either remove the guilt of his transgression or we remove the power of Christ’s redemption. In either event, we eviscerate the faith and deny the truth of the Scriptures which is not in keeping with Christian belief.
Question 17 asks, “Why must He (our Redeemer and Mediator) at the same time be true God?” The answer says, “So that by the power of His divinity He might bear as a man the burden of God’s wrath, and recover for us and restore to us righteousness and life.” This answer reminds us that God alone has the power to forgive sins by bearing the burden of God’s wrath and recovery. God alone also has the authority to restore His people to righteousness. In short, only God has the power and authority to forgive sin.
Luke presents this in chapter 5 verses 17 and following through the mouths of sinful unbelievers. Remember, this is when Jesus was preaching in a house and there was a paralytic whose friends were seeking Jesus. There were so many people they had to go onto the roof, dismantle the roof, and lower the man through. Frankly, this sounds like an insurance nightmare. It would have taken an enormous amount of time and effort. When Jesus sees their faith, He tells the man that his sins are forgiven. Stop and reflect on that for a moment. Clearly the man came to him to gain the ability to walk, but Jesus is forgiving his sin. Note the scribes and Pharisees. They say in verse 21, “Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” To be clear, these scribes and Pharisees are not supporting Jesus, they are speaking this out of spiteful unbelief. Even in their unbelief, they do speak the truth. Only God has the authority to forgive sins. Only God has the power to forgive sins. Were Jesus to be anyone other than the eternal Son of God, this would have been blasphemy. Yet, Jesus responds by saying, “…So that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,” and heals the man of His physical infirmity. Though they were not right on purpose, Jesus used the wise cracking Pharisees to prove that He is the Son of God and that He has authority to be our Mediator and Redeemer.
We must remember that our Mediator and Redeemer is a righteous and true man. We must also remember that He is true God. In that knowledge we should worship Him all the days of our life. Let us pray.