Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator. Galatians 3:19 (NIV).
In this verse, Paul asks one of the most profound questions in history. “If Jesus redeems us, then why have law at all?” Some other related questions could be, “if we are so sinful, then why save us? If God can redeem us, then why let us continue to wallow in sin?” Good questions, I’m sure, but they miss the point.
Not only, but, if we have this law, do we need a lawyer?
Abraham was a mediator – a function of a lawyer – between God and his people. Over the years, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and many others served in this same role. Moses was the great human mediator of Jewish history, maybe even all of human history. He personally witnessed between God and the Israelites. The Levite priests of Israel, then the judges who presided over the nation, the prophets from Samuel and Nathan down the line until the prophets whose voices went silent 400 years before Jesus: all of them mediated from God to God’s people, passing His words and His judgments to the masses who couldn’t, or wouldn’t, go to Him individually.
Finally, there was Jesus: the final mediator of humanity. He served up His life in order to come between sinful humanity and God’s holy nature, which can’t abide sin. Like a lawyer, Jesus pleads our case to His Father. But unlike a lawyer, Jesus also carries out our sentence on Himself, declaring those who believe in Him to be innocent because He alone paid the price for all transgressions.
My Concordia talks about all this, reminding us that Christ is that ultimate mediator; the only one who could do what He did and make all things both right and new for all time. Knowing, this, Paul asks the question about why we should have law at all. His letter to the Romans answers it best: the law is given to us so that grace might increase. Where our realization of the sins we’ve committed increases, because of our faith in Christ (who kept the entirety of God’s perfect laws), along with the realization comes acceptance of always-increasing grace from God. Those who sin greatly have great reason to be thankful for much grace. It’s not to say, “let’s do more bad things so we can know more grace.” Instead, it’s a recognition of how merciful, wonderful, and beautiful it is when the creator of the universe interacts with each of us personally, imparting His forgiveness especially for each of us.
For further reading: Exodus 20:19, Deuteronomy 5:5, Deuteronomy 33:2, Acts 7:53, Romans 5:20, Galatians 3:20
Graceful Lord Jesus, where my sins have happened, let Your blessed grace shine so much brighter.
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