Hebrews 9:15 - Christ Is The Mediator Of A New Covenant
Our text this morning is found in Hebrews 9:15-22. Most of our time this morning will be on verse 15. It states,
15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. 16 For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
Let me give you two reasons why Hebrews 9:15 should fill your heart with great joy and thanksgiving! First, Christ is the Mediator of a New Covenant. Secondly, we see that those who are called may receive two wonderful blessings: the promised eternal inheritance and redemption from their transgressions.
Christ Is The Mediator Of A New Covenant
Let me quickly address the words, ‘New Covenant’ at the beginning of verse 15. First, Christ is the mediator of a new covenant. A covenant is a legally binding agreement that has taken effect and it has replaced the Old Covenant. Secondly, it is an entirely New covenant. It is a covenant of grace, it is not a covenant of works like the one that Moses mediated (John 1:16-17).
Our Christian walk can become very frustrating if we begin to use the Law improperly and mix it in with this covenant of grace. These two covenants are not interchangeable. The Old Covenant has a specific purpose which is to reveal our sins and transgressions, so that we know we need a Savior. The Old Covenant cannot be used to justify sinners before God and it cannot deliver to us the promises of God. These things only come through faith in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:1-6). If we try to mix these two covenants together we will find our Christian walk will be full of trouble and the gospel will be distorted (Galatians 1:7).
Let me give you an illustration of this. Recently my mother-in-law’s front door knob stopped working when the temperatures were very cold. This led me to believe that there was some part in it that had broken which was keeping the knob from working properly. I bought a replacement knob for $100.00 but I hoped that it could be returned. When I opened up the knob on the door I saw the part that was broken and I replaced it with a spare part that I had. Unfortunately subtle changes were made to the replacement part so that it would not work properly in the existing knob.
For the next couple of hours I filed down the knob and the replacement part so that it would be compatible. As I was doing this I kept thinking how frustrating it was that companies are always making these subtle changes so that you have to buy entirely new products at great expense. In the end I made the knob work and I was able to return the knob that I had purchased.
As we saw in Hebrews 9:12 the New Covenant is provided to us at great cost. There we read, “...He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption”. We owed a debt that we could never pay. The Old Covenant could not grant us access to God. We were shut out from the presence of the LORD. Under the First Covenant we only received limited access, partial cleansing and pardon from our sins (Hebrews 9:6-10).
Only through faith and trust in Jesus can we receive access to the Father. Jesus alone can pay our debt to redeem you and I from our transgressions that we committed under the first covenant (15). We cannot do what I did with that front door knob and try to mix some of the old covenant by adding to it some of the new. This will never give us any access into the eternal inheritance that is offered (15). (Galatians 1:9, 2:17-21, 3:10-14, 23-25)
Notice that we are told that Christ ‘is’ the mediator of a new covenant. We read in Hebrews 9:15, “Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant”. The office of the High Priest is not vacant. This office has been permanently filled and occupied by the right person. Because of this our mediator has offered an acceptable sacrifice once and for all for His people. We have a mediator who is interceding for His people before God right now.
This week I was reading in Joel 1 where the LORD speaks to the priests to fulfill their responsibilities. The ministers needed to be reminded to fulfill their duty to intercede for the people. The priests needed to be reminded to pray for the people and call out to the LORD on their behalf.
This is never the case with our Great High Priest Jesus Christ! He is a faithful priest in the house of God. Jesus lives to mediate between His people and the LORD. Because of this those who have faith in Him are justly entitled to every blessing and promise that our mediator has qualified us to receive by grace alone (Galatians 3:1-6).
“Jesus is the mediator of a new covenant!” Perhaps after this past week you and I appreciate this more than ever before. This week we have witnessed the struggle that the Republican Party has had in choosing a Speaker for the House of Representatives. Almost a week went by where nominations were made, speeches were given on the House floor, ballots were cast, votes were counted, and time and time again there still was no Speaker of the House of Representatives declared (Until late Friday night). We were told that because the new members of the 118th Congress could not be seated until this important position was filled that certain things were not getting done and representation of the people was being hindered.
I do not mention any of this because I want to discuss politics. Rather, these events have made me appreciate even more the words of our text in Hebrews 9:15, “Therefore He is the mediator of a new covenant...”. If Jesus were not the Mediator of this New Covenant we could not be seated with the LORD in heavenly places. If Jesus did not hold this office and mediate over this New Covenant we could not be speaking of the many good things that we have now received (11).
In the book of Hebrews we have seen that God has always provided some form of mediation between Him and sinners. Under the First Covenant all of these things were to be types and shadows of something greater that would one day come. The Old Covenant needed to be replaced with a New Covenant that would grant sinners greater access, greater purification, and greater pardon from our sins (9:6-10).
You and I have no more urgent and pressing need than that we have a High Priest who mediates between us and the Father. We desperately need a High Priest who can give us access, grant us complete pardon from our sins, and graciously give us full cleansing from your transgressions. He has done this when He sent ‘Christ’ (11,14,24,28). This title for Jesus is used exclusively in the surrounding text. Only Christ can mediate for us. We cannot represent ourselves!
Without such a mediator we would all face the anger and wrath of God and be removed far away from His comforting presence. Without this mediator we would not receive God’s blessings, we would not receive His mercy and grace, we could not be pardoned, redeemed or receive eternal life as an inheritance. Instead we would immediately have the consequences of our transgressions (15) executed against us. We would be doomed, cursed, and damned to suffer an ill-fated future for all of eternity.
Unlike what we see being played out among our political representatives where demands were being made, deals were being agreed too, and promises were being given, so that people would shift their votes for the man who had been nominated to hold the office of the Speaker of the House; Jesus was not chosen by men. This office is not filled by a few political or religious leaders who believe they have found the right person for the job. We can say with confidence that if this were the case they would not have chosen Jesus to fill this position.
We are told in Isaiah 53 that the Servant ‘had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed Him not’.
In the New Testament the apostle John writes, “He (Jesus Christ) was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him.” (11)
The Christ had come into the world and no one recognized Him! The Son of God walked and talked and performed miracles among His own people, and yet they did not recognize Him or understand what He had come to do.
However, there is hope because John says that there are some who received Jesus and believed upon His name. He says, “But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God…” (12). What made these people receive Him when so many others did not?
The apostle John addresses this when he writes that those who believed and received Him ‘were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God’ (13). God takes this ‘divine initiative’ to draw men to Jesus (John 3:6, 6:63-65). This brings us to the second part of verse Hebrews 9:15which reveals that it is those who are called who receive the promised eternal inheritance(1 Peter 2:9-10).
The Called Receive The Promised Inheritance
The author of Hebrews writes, “Therefore, He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance…”.
The participle ‘have been called’ is in the perfect passive tense. The perfect tense speaks of a process that took place in the past and the results have continued to the present.1 God has chosen and called those who will receive these eternal blessings.
We read of this in passages like Ephesians 1:3-5 which says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will…”.
Romans 8:28-30 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”
The passive tense means that the subject is receiving the action of the verb. In other words, it is God who calls people and gives them eternal life! He calls them out by name and they follow Him (John 10:3, 11:43). God is the source of this calling, it is not initiated by us. Rather, it is God’s divine initiative that does this and those who are called receive it .
Apart from this powerful divine call we would remain spiritually dead and unable to respond. Ephesians 2:1-3describes us in this way, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”
In Ephesians 2:4-10 we see what God does to us when we are in this condition. He says, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Look at Hebrews 9:15 again. We read, “Therefore He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance…”. Let me define the words ‘promised eternal inheritance’ as...
receiving unhindered access to God through Christ
Christ provides cleansing and purification of sinful consciences from dead works so that we may serve the living God
and receiving the forgiveness of all sins and transgressions through Christ’s acceptable sacrifice.
Our text says that those who are called may receive these things. There is a difference between the word ‘can receive’ and ‘may receive’? ‘Can’ speaks of mans ability to do something to receive the eternal inheritance. Jesus speaks of the inability of man to receive this inheritance apart from regeneration when He says in John 6:65, “No one can come to me unless it is given to him by the Father.” (cf v.44 – ‘unless the Father draws him.’ (compels [James 2:6]; drags [Acts 16:19])2
“No one (universal negative / all inclusive absolute) can (has the ability to) come to me unless (except a necessary condition is met) it is given (granted, enabled) to him by the Father.” (cf v.44 – ‘unless the Father draws him.’)
The Father gives people the ability to come to Christ which allows them to appropriate these blessings in Christ. The word ‘may’, which we see in our text, speaks of the permission that someone has been given to receive something. Those whom Christ calls may claim, may procure, may take possession of what was promised. This permission has been granted because ‘a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant’.
Under the first covenant you could not have access to God. You would not receive full pardon from sin. You would not be cleansed from a guilty conscience; but now through Christ you may receive these ‘good things’ (11).
I have spoken a lot on Hebrews 9:15 this morning. And we have spoken a lot about Christ as the High Priest and the call that has gone fourth to receive a promise. As we close this morning I would like to take you to Psalm 50. This particular psalm is a call for Israel to renew their commitment to the first covenant. It is a Psalm of renewal. As you read it you see that it applies to us today because as God was calling Israel to renew themselves to the first covenant He was also pointing beyond it to Christ.
In Psalm 50 we read, “The Mighty One, the LORD, speaks and summons all the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting (1)...Our God comes; He does not keep silence...(3). God’s voice calls out loudly to all. We read, “He calls to the heavens above and to the earth, that He may judge His people...(4).
In Psalm 50 God speaks to two types of people. He speaks to the ‘faithful ones’ in verses 5-15. He speaks to the ‘wicked’ in verses 16-23.
When God speaks to the ‘faithful ones’ you might think that He is addressing people who have not sinned and transgressed His covenant. Yet, as you read you discover that the LORD says to them, “Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, I will testify against you, I am God, your God.” (7) The LORD does not rebuke them for the sacrifices they’ve offered (8-11). But in Psalm 50:12-15 He tells them what He desires from them, “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”
The ‘faithful ones’ were to thank God and to call out to Him for deliverance in the day of trouble. That deliverance ultimately came through Jesus Christ. Jesus is our merciful and gracious deliverer to whom we own great gratitude and thanks.
When God addresses the ‘wicked’ in verses 15-23 you see a description that will not surprise you. The wicked speak with religious words but they hate its discipline and they cast His words away (16-17). The wicked associate with those who break God’s law (19-20). For a time God remains silent and the wicked forgot about God (21-22).
Surprisingly, the LORD speaks to them at this renewal and presents them with an opportunity to be saved from their sins. Shockingly, it is the same prescription that the LORD had given to the faithful ones. The LORD says to them, “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” (23)
This morning there has been a call that has gone out to everyone in this room. It has gone out to the faithful and the wicked; to the saved and to the unsaved; to those dead in sins and those who are alive in Christ. Will you respond with thankfulness for what Christ alone can do for you by grace? Will you speak with gratitude as you think of the sacrifice that Christ has given to redeem you from all your transgressions that you have committed under the first covenant?
Believer, how many times this week have you sinned and doubted your salvation? This week thank God and consider Jesus’ sacrifice.
Unbeliever, how often have you heard the Gospel and quickly neglected to turn to the LORD? Psalm 50 would say to you, “What right have you to recite my statutes or take my covenant on your lips?” This morning you must repent and believe upon Christ. Let the fruit of your lips join in with the others who have received this grace and be thankful and glorify the LORD for what He has done through Christ.
1The Complete Word Study New Testament, Zodhiates, 868.
2Man’s Radical Falleness, R.C. Sproul