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Sunday School is a vital part of any ministry. In it, one is able to experience a deeper knowledge of God’s Word. Here at “Word For Life Says,” I want to help you help others. Below you will find resources to help you prepare for your upcoming lessons and my personal summary notes that I use when teaching. May God bless you!
“Mediator of the New Covenant”
Hebrews 12:14-15, 18-29
PDF Lesson Print Out is now Located at the Bottom of the Lesson. Please Scroll Down, Click and Enjoy! Blessings.
Please Note: All lesson verses and titles are based on International Sunday School Lesson/Uniform Series ©2013 by the Lesson Committee, but all content/commentary written within is original tounless properly quoted/cited. I am glad you like to read my personal summary notes that I use when teaching, but as always you are encouraged to do your own studies as well. Blessings!)
Leaving the great hall of fame of faith as recorded in Hebrews 11 and moving to the opening of chapter 12 where we see that great cloud of witnesses that can testify to the goodness of God’s grace, we move into the very next verse which shows us Jesus Christ as our holy example, being the Author and Finisher of our faith (vs. 2).
As we ponder Him as our great example, because He suffered for sinners, of whom we once were, we also see Him anew in our lesson as our Mediator, who through His redemptive blood became the perfect, one time only, substitutionary sacrifice for our wayward ways, hearts, and lives. He became the go-between for us and God because our sin drove a wedge in that holy relationship.
Hebrews 12:14-15 “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.”
Before getting into the depths of Christ as our Mediator, our lesson opens up with the responsibility of the Christian in light of what Jesus has already done. As children of the Most High King, bought with the blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:19), there are still times when we are going to face suffering like those who have gone before us or times when the chastening of the Father will come to the forefront (vss. 3-11), and our job is to “make straight paths for your feet” to walk in (vs. 12); to pursue a life that is pleasing to God.
The duty of the Christian is to live in a way that glorifies God and brings honor to what Christ did on the cross, even in times of persecution and confusion. Therefore, no matter what controversy is going on in the church or in an individual’s life, we are instructed to, “follow peace with all men.”
It is believed that the writer of Hebrews had to address dissension in the church with some threatening to return to the old covenant system due to the persecution they were facing and doubt and quarrels. And, although the idea of the new covenant had been prophesied in their history (view last week’s lesson, Promise of a New Covenant), and dealt with in a few chapters before this week’s lesson (see 8:7-12), the author of Hebrews makes it clear in every way that when God introduced the concept of a coming new covenant back in Jeremiah, through its fulfilling, “He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away,” (Hebrews 8:13, NKJV). There is no more need for it.
Leading up to his reaffirmation of the new covenant being secured through Christ our Mediator (the gist of this lesson), the writer of Hebrews teaches them that the actions they take now and the decisions they make are becoming living testimonies for good or bad before the world. Therefore, they should pursue a life of “peace.”
“Peace” as rendered here is something to “follow” after or pursue. Added with the idea that it is to be extended to “all men” is not always the easiest path to travel, especially when one is already dealing with apprehension and obvious discourse among the brethren, and also with enemies of persecution.
But, peace is something Jesus lived and taught when He showed us to love our enemies and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you (Matthew 5:44). Therefore, this peace the writer of Hebrews steers us to follow after is a work of active faith, that, as much as one is able, they seek to live at peace with all men even in the harshest and most uncomfortable situations and times of disagreements and adversities (see Romans 12:18).
“And holiness.” God is looking for a sanctified life. When we receive of His Spirit the sanctification process has started to turn our lives around getting us ready for a heaven-bound journey. A lot of people have grown unaccustomed to associating our walk of faith with a walk of sanctification. Songs of old would once sing out, “If anyone asks you, what’s the matter with me? Tell them I’m saved, sanctified, Holy Ghost filled, fire baptized, I’ve got Jesus on my mind, And I’m running for my life,” (Lucinda Moore/Fire Baptized Medly/SortHits.com). But today, is that fervency for holiness still present in the modern day church?
God wants hearts that are in tune with His. God wants people who are in the world but not of the world (John 17:16). God our Father is holy, and His children, who are us, are to be holy demonstrators of His character (1 Peter 1:15-16). Our lives are to be lives of separateness and devotion to God alone, instilled with His Spirit to live differently than the rest of the world.
“Without which no man shall see the Lord.” Holiness is a prerequisite for access to our heavenly Father. Sin will hinder a full and beautiful relationship with God. Isaiah 59:2 reiterates this truth, saying, “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” Therefore, just as peace is to be pursued, holiness has to be a mark that the Christian aims for in his/her daily life in order to “see the Lord” at the end of this journey.
“Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God.” “Grace” is God’s move to save souls. Grace is something that has been afforded to us by God; it is something we have received and are expected to give and to look after one another for. The one who falls back has shunned the gift of the “grace of God.” For the Hebrew believer, to revert back to the old covenant would be a moment of rejection to say that what Christ did on the cross was not enough.
The Bible emphatically lets the believer know over and over again, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God,” (Ephesians 2:8). Our salvation is us receiving what we did not deserve, that unmerited favor. Thus, they are no longer “under the law, but under grace,” (Romans 6:14). To return to the old covenant is a return to the law. It is to “fail” in the grace that He so lovingly secured for us. Galatians gives this warning, “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace,” (5:4, ESV).
Their move would undo the work that God accomplished by sending His Son to the cross. If the law and adherence to those rituals could have saved mankind once and for all, then Jesus Christ would have never needed to come to this earth, be born a babe in a manger just to die on that old rugged cross bearing the sins of the world. Paul wrote in the book of Galatians, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain,” (Galatians 2:20-21, emphasis mine; see also Gal. 3:21).
Everything we do in our Christian life is a grace walk. How we come into the faith and how we live that faith out in dealing with others. Don’t frustrate the grace of God is a similar sentiment that the Hebrew writer is addressing here.
Don’t let the hurtful situations; don’t let the persecutions; don’t let people; don’t let the hard times of chastisement cause “any root of bitterness” to become embedded in your spirit. Once there, it grows and infects that whole vessel that dares to continue to hold it. Woodrow Kroll is quoted as saying, “When the root is bitterness, imagine what the fruit might be,” (Quote Source: Christianquotes.info). Whatever is planted with that root will eventually grow out and affect others around it. Therefore, Ephesians teaches us, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice,” (4:31). Put it away from you!
In light of all this, the writer of Hebrews reminds them of the stark contrasts between the old covenant and the new. He travels their minds back to that time in their history when the old covenant was given and the circumstances surrounding it.
Hebrews 12:18-21 “For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:)”.
This was a “that was then” moment. A few lessons ago we went into great detail about the experience with God’s chosen people at Mount Sinai. Two months after God delivered the children of Israel He brought them to Mount Sinai. Upon their arrival, they were given very specific commands to follow because life and death depended on it. If any attempted to look at God or break through the boundaries that were set up to protect the perimeter of the mount, that individual would be killed. Even if a “beast” of any sort were to touch the mount where the manifested presence of God would make Him know, it too was to be killed. No exceptions.
The thunderings and lightings, along with the “sound of the trumpet” that blasted to signal their approach to the mount and the “blackness” and the “voice of words” all made the event very terrifying for the people. Their request was that Moses would be the intermediary between God and man; that Moses would hear the instructions that were coming from the mouth of God and relay them to the people. The awesomeness of God’s presence on that mountain was just too much to bear. They asked, “that the word should not be spoken to them any more: (For they could not endure that which was commanded…”
Even “Moses,” a man who would meet with God up close and personal, “face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friends” (Exodus 33:11), was described at this event as saying, “I exceedingly fear and quake.” God’s power that showed forth on that mount was terrifying to behold (for more information on this event click over to the lessons “God’s Covenant with Israel” and “Obeying God’s Law” Sunday School Lesson Summaries).
But, in this “now moment” God has a new covenant, a new mount experience, with a new intermediary in place. It is “not” based on the event portrayed at Mount Sinai. As last week’s lesson stated, He wasn’t looking for ordinances written on stone as the old covenant was, but a spiritual difference in the heart of mankind that would lead one to heaven through the new covenant, Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 12:22-24 “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.”
In the introduction to today’s lesson, there was the reference to those who are in the hall of fame of faith. Of those who lived and died in the faith, we are told, “They desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city,” (11:16; emphasis mine). That “city,” as our lesson today calls it, is “mount Sion, city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,” (see also Revelation 21:2, 10).
This is now where our access to God lies, in the faith, hope, and grace afforded to us through the new covenant, through the blood of Jesus Christ, which is spiritual. Not in the old system or order of doing things that was contingent on coming to God through the outward conformity of the law which is physical. That access through Jesus brings us to the place where God is in heaven.
In that “heavenly Jerusalem” there will be “an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.” These are the residents there. “Angels,” those ministering spirits that work to fulfill the will of God in heaven and on earth, who are too many to count (compare Revelation 5:11). “Church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven” being those who belong to the firstborn who is Christ and names are recorded in the “book of life,” (Revelation 3:5; see also Revelation 20:12). “God the Judge of all” (see also Revelation 18:8; 20:12), who looks on those who are there and counts them worthy or not to enter in; whether they be hidden in Christ Jesus or not. “The spirits of just men made perfect” are those who have already been redeemed and now dwell in that heavenly abode (see Revelation 5:9; 7:9).
And, “Jesus the mediator of the new covenant” (see also Revelation 14:1). If heaven is your goal, to be where they are, then Jesus is the way there. While on earth Jesus spoke, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me,” (John 14:6). The only way to get to where God is, is through the door of Jesus Christ Himself; through accepting Him as Savior (John 10:9). There is no other way around it. The old way is obsolete and no longer in effect. Mount Sinai stood to symbolize the old covenant while Mount Sion stood to symbolize the new. Jesus is the way through to the new.
When Jesus died on the cross, He not only became the Author of the new covenant, but He became the “mediator;” the go-between between God and man. He stood in the gap that we would have fallen into that leads to eternal death. But, through His death, through Him as the new covenant and mediator of our faith, we cross over the gap that sin caused and follow Him to eternal life. He is the way, “For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father,” (Ephesians 2:18; see also Romans 5:2). Jesus is the bridge that leads us to our heavenly home.
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5), whose “blood of sprinkling… speaketh better things than that of Abel.” When Abel was killed by his brother Cain for offering a better sacrifice, God said, “The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground,” (Genesis 4:8). But, when Jesus laid himself down for the sacrifice, He did so with the purpose that through His blood there might be remission of sins, (see Hebrews 9:18-28). “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of man; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation,” (Hebrews 9:28).
Hebrews 12:25-29 “See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.”
In light of all that has been taught to this Hebrew writer’s audience, they are admonished to “refuse not him that speaketh.” To refuse to hear Him is to reject and ignore Him; to turn away from this grace He so lovingly offered through Jesus Christ and the danger that follows such an act is irreversible in that coming day. There is no “escape.” The warning has been sounded. The NLT version says it like this, “For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven!” (Hebrews 12:25).
“Whose voice then shook the earth.” At Mount Sinai, God’s voice “shook the earth” (compare Exodus 19:18). But the promise to come in the latter days is, “I shake not the earth only, but also heaven,” (compare Haggai 2:6). Jesus, in telling of the coming last days, said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away,” (Matthew 24:35; see also 2 Peter 3:10).
But, what we receive through Christ and the new covenant is a “kingdom which cannot be moved” (compare Revelation 21:1). It is unshakeable. Everything else can and will vanish away.
Therefore, let us operate in that “grace,” with a heart of thanksgiving, that He has offered and secured for us that we “may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear;” let us serve Him with the awe and respect He deserves. That word “acceptably” reminds us of how we are to present our person to God in service. A life that lives those holy characteristics we saw at the beginning of our lesson and have put off the life of sin. A transformed life which has been renewed and not a conformed life after the old patterns of this world (see Romans 12:1-2).
For those who want to turn away from the faith and grace which is offered through our Lord Jesus Christ, the plea is, don’t do it. For that one, they put themselves in danger of experiencing the judgment of God, “for our God is a consuming fire” (compare Exodus 24:17; Deuteronomy 4:24; 9:3). Sin, and anything not covered under the blood, the new covenant in Christ, will be destroyed.
Hold on to what Christ has done for it is the only thing that is unshakable and will last.
Standard Print PDF: Mediator of the New Covenant Sunday School Lesson Summary Standard Print
Below are activities to support this week’s lesson. Enjoy!
Word Scramble: Mediator of the New Covenant Word Scramble Answers: Mediator of the New Covenant Word Scramble Answers
Draw the Scene: Mediator of the New Covenant Draw the Scene
Memory Verse: Mediator of the New Covenant Memory Verse
Jesus Book Markers: Jesus Book Markers Printable (print onto cardstock and color)
Video Object Lesson on “How Jesus is our Mediator”
“Jesus Crafts for Kids” (Incorporate any one of these activities to fit with our lesson. I particularly like the “Standing Jesus Pic,” instead of writing Jesus loves me, you can write “Jesus is My Mediator.” Enjoy!)
“How to Bead a Cross Necklace” (An inspiration cross necklace to remind students of their faith in Jesus. Enjoy!)
“Hangman”: This old game is excellent for lesson reinforcement. Simply print the worksheet from Printactivities.com, get your verses or phrases from the lesson you want to use or the students want to use with each other, play and enjoy! (A single hangman page can be found at Thetripclip.com. Enjoy!) (Great for memory verses!)