When I was in Virginia a few months ago, I was with a dear friend of mine, who presided over my wedding to Sara and has remained a lifelong friend. He is a Methodist minister and also a church historian. When I was with him recently he asked me if I knew historically how the priests in the third-century took on the role of being confessors as mediators between God and man? I told him I did not and what he said fascinated me.
It seems all the heretical movements that sprung up in the 2nd and 3rd centuries had one thing in common. They denied the divine nature of Christ. To combat this, those who fought for orthodoxy crafted their creeds and confessions by embellishing the divine nature of Christ. Though it affirmed him as “man of very man”, its emphasis was on “God of very God”. In time the emphasis on his human nature almost vanished and his humanity was only considered for the brief time he actually lived in the flesh, but was thought of in his current state as the exalted King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
He went on to say that we are wired in such a way that we need a human mediator to usher us into the presence of God. When we lost our sense of the humanity of Jesus, it was natural for us to want to place someone between God and us. The priests and clergy took on that role as a mediator between God and man and people were content to let them do that. Then he looked at me and smiled, “And don’t think you Charismatics get a pass on this. Your dependence on pastoral, apostolic, and prophetic people reflects that same reality.”
I didn’t fight him. I understood exactly what he was saying and saw in my own past how I believed Jesus was a man when he was here, but have always seen him more today as the King of Kings, than my older brother. He still lives on as fully God and fully human, as the firstborn of the new creation. This has had some profound effect in my own personal relationship with Jesus. While I still embrace him as the High King seated at the right hand of God the Father, I am also seeing him there as my older brother and the only mediator I or anyone else will ever need.
It has begun to work some wonderful changes in my heart. It doesn’t diminish his deity at all, but defines it in a more awesome way. It makes me even re-think what we call the Parable of the Prodigal son. What if the older brother in that parable would have been Jesus instead of the religious junkie he was? How would Jesus have acted differently in going out to his brother and letting him know that there is still room in Father’s house for him? Amazing stuff!