top of page

The Mediatorial Work of Christ on Our Behalf

As I was pondering the Mediatorial work of Christ on our behalf, and what it meant for Him to live to make intercession for us, I went to Owen’s commentary on Hebrews (which is a gold mine!!!).

And after enjoying the beauties declared there I wanted to share them, so I attached is a small section from his commentary, and I highlighted some words and phrases, that I hope help to make Jesus’ glorious work stand out (as I also did with the Scripture below)!

May the Lord bless your reading, studying, and pondering of these great and glorious truths!


Hebrews 7:11-28 ESV

11  Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another Priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? 12 For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. 13 For the One of Whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. 15 This becomes even more evident when another Priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, 16 Who has become a Priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is witnessed of Him,


“You are a Priest forever,

after the order of Melchizedek.”


18 On the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness 19 (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. 20 And it was not without an oath. For those who formerly became priests were made such without an oath, 21 but this One was made a Priest with an oath by the One Who said to Him:


“The Lord has sworn

and will not change His mind,

‘You are a Priest forever.’”


22 This makes Jesus the Guarantor of a better covenant. 23 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24 but He holds His Priesthood permanently, because He continues forever. 25 Consequently, He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. 26 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a High Priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for His Own sins and then for those of the people, since He did this once for all when He offered up Himself. 28 For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the Word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son Who has been made perfect forever.


John Owen wrote this about Christ’s intercessory work in his great commentary on the book of Hebrews (there is way more that he wrote that is certainly worthy reading, but I had to choose where to start and end, or else I would have had to send the whole volume)


“(4.) It is no way unworthy or unbecoming the human nature of Christ, in its glorious exaltation, to pray unto God. It was in and by the human nature that the Lord Christ exercised and executed all the duties of His offices while He was on earth; and He continues to discharge what remains of them in the same nature still. And however that nature be glorified, it is the same essentially that it was when He was in this world. To ascribe another kind of nature unto Him, under pretense of a more divine glory, is to deny His being, and to substitute a fancy of our own in His room. So, then, the human nature of Christ, however exalted and glorified, is human nature still, subsisting in dependence on God and subjection unto Him. Hence God gives Him new revelations now, in His glorified condition, Revelation 1:1. With respect hereunto He acted of old as the Angel of the covenant, with express prayers for the church, Zechariah 1:12-13. So the command given Him to intercede by the way of petition, request, or prayer, Psalm 2:8, ‘Ask of me’, respects His state of exaltation at the right hand of God, when He was ‘declared to be the Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead’, Psalm 2:7-8; Romans 1:4. And the incense which He offers with the prayers of the saints, Revelation 8:3-4, is no other but His Own intercession, whereby their prayers are made acceptable unto God.

(5.) This praying of Christ at present is no other but such as may become Him Who sits at the right hand of the Majesty on high. There must, therefore, needs be a great difference, as to the outward manner, between His present intercession in heaven and His praying while He was on the earth, especially at some seasons. For being encompassed here with temptations and difficulties, He cast Himself at the feet of God, with ‘strong cries, tears, and supplications’, Hebrews 5:7. This would not become His present glorious state; nor is He liable or exposed unto any of the causes or occasions of that kind of treating with God. And yet at another time while He was in this world, He gave us the best estimate and representation of His present intercession that we are able to comprehend. And this was in His prayer recorded John 17. For therein His confidence in God, His union in and with Him, the declaration of His will and desires, are all expressed in such a manner as to give us the best understanding of His present intercession. For a created nature can rise no higher, to express an interest in God, with a oneness of mind and will, than is therein declared. And as the prayers with cries and tears, when He offered Himself unto God, were peculiarly typed by the fire on the altar; so was this solemn prayer represented by that cloud of incense wherewith the high priest covered the ark and the mercy-seat at His entrance into the most holy place. In the virtue of this holy cloud of incense did He enter the holy place not made with hands. Or we may apprehend its relation unto the types in this order: His prayer, John 17, was the preparation of the sweet spices whereof the incense was made and compounded, Exodus 30:34. His sufferings that ensued thereon were as the breaking and bruising of those spices; wherein all His graces had their most fervent exercise, as spices yield their strongest savor under their bruising. At His entrance into the holy place this incense was fired with coals from the altar; that is, the efficacy of His oblation, wherein He had offered Himself unto God through the eternal Spirit, rendered His prayer as incense covering the ark and mercy-seat, — that is, procuring the fruits of the atonement made before God.…

(7.) It must be granted, that the virtue, efficacy, and prevalency of the intercession of the Lord Christ, depends upon and flows from His oblation and sacrifice. This we are plainly taught from the types of it of old. For the incense and carrying of blood into the holy place, after the expiatory sacrifice, the great type of His oblation of Himself, did both of them receive their efficacy and had respect unto the sacrifice offered without. Besides, it is expressly said that the Lord Christ, ‘by the one offering of Himself, obtained for us eternal redemption,’ and ‘forever perfected them that are sanctified’. Wherefore nothing remains for His intercession but the application of the fruits of His oblation unto all them for whom He offered Himself in sacrifice, according as their conditions and occasions do require.

Wherefore, —

(8.) The safest conception and apprehension that we can have of the intercession of Christ, as to the manner of it, is His continual appearance for us in the presence of God, by virtue of His office as the ‘High Priest over the house of God’, representing the efficacy of His oblation, accompanied with tender care, love, and desires for the welfare, supply, deliverance, and salvation of the church.

Three things, therefore, concur hereunto:

[1.] The presentation of His person before the throne of God on our behalf, Hebrews 9:24. This renders it sacerdotal. His appearance in person for us is required thereunto.

[2.] The representation of His death, oblation, and sacrifice for us; which gives power, life, and efficacy unto His intercession. Thence He appears ‘in the midst of the throne as a Lamb that had been slain’, Revelation 5:6. Both these are required to make His intercession sacerdotal. But,

[3.] Both these do not render it prayer or intercession; for intercession is prayer, I Timothy 2:1; Romans 8:26. Wherefore there is in it, moreover, a putting up, a requesting, and offering unto God, of His desires and will for the church, attended with care, love, and compassion, Zechariah 1:12.

Thus far, then, may we proceed:

(1.) It is a part of His sacerdotal office; He intercedes for us as the ‘High Priest over the house of God’.

(2.) It is the first and principal way whereby He acts and exercises His love, compassion, and care towards the church.

(3.) That He has respect therein unto every individual believer, and all their especial occasions: ‘If any man sin, we have an Advocate’.

(4.) That there is in His intercession an effectual signification of His will and desire unto His Father; for it has the nature of prayer in it, and by it He expresses His dependence upon God.

(5.) That it respects the application of all the fruits, effects, and benefits, of His whole mediation unto the church; for this is the formal nature of it, that it is the way and means appointed of God, in the holy dispensation of Himself and His grace unto mankind, whereby the continual application of all the benefits of the death of Christ, and all effects of the promises of the covenant, shall be communicated unto us, unto His praise and glory.

(6.) The efficacy of this intercession as it is sacerdotal depends wholly on the antecedent oblation and sacrifice of Himself; which is therefore as it were represented unto God therein. This is evident from the nature and order of the typical institutions whereby it was prefigured, and whereunto by our apostle it is accommodated. But what belongs unto the manner of the transaction of these things in heaven I know not.

The third thing observed, was the connection of the two things mentioned, or their relation one unto another; namely, the perpetual life of Christ and His intercession: ‘He lives forever to make intercession’. His intercession is the end of His mediatory life; not absolutely, nor only, but principally. He lives to rule His church; He lives to subdue His enemies, for He must reign until they are all made His footstool; He lives to give the Holy Spirit in all His blessed effects unto believers. But because all these things proceed originally by an emanation of power and grace from God, and are given out into the hand of Christ upon His intercession, that may well be esteemed the principal end of His mediatory life. So He speaks expressly concerning that great fruit and effect of this life of Him, in sending of the Spirit: ‘I will pray the Father’, I will intercede with Him for it, ‘and He shall send you another Comforter’, John 14:16. And the power which He exerts in the subduing and destruction of the enemies of His kingdom, is expressly promised unto Him upon His intercession for it, Psalm 2:8-9; for this intercession of Christ is the great ordinance of God for the exercise of His power towards, and the communication of His grace unto the church, unto His praise and glory. So does our High Priest live to make intercession for us. Many things we may from hence observe: —

Observation. 14. So great and glorious is the work of saving believers unto the utmost, that it is necessary that the Lord Christ should lead a mediatory life in heaven, for the perfecting and accomplishment of it; ‘He lives forever to make intercession for us’. —

It is generally acknowledged that sinners could not be saved, without the death of Christ; but that believers could not be saved without the life of Christ following it, is not so much considered. See Romans 5:10; 8:34-35, etc. It is, it may be, thought by some, that when He had declared the Name of God, and revealed the whole counsel of His will; when He had given us the great example of love and holiness in His life; when He had fulfilled all righteousness, redeemed us by His blood, and made atonement for our sins by the oblation of Himself; confirming His truth and acceptation with God in all these things by His resurrection from the dead, wherein He was ‘declared to be the Son of God with power’; that He might have now left us to deal for ourselves, and to build our eternal safety on the foundation that He had laid. But, alas! when all this was done, if He had only ascended into His Own glory, to enjoy His majesty, honor, and dominion, without continuing His life and office in our behalf, we had been left poor and helpless; so that both we and all our right unto a heavenly inheritance should have been made a prey unto every subtle and powerful adversary. He could, therefore, no otherwise comfort His disciples, when He was leaving this world, but by promising that ‘He would not leave them orphans’, John 14:18; that is, that He would still continue to act for them, to be their Patron, and to exercise the office of a Mediator and Advocate with the Father for them. Without this He knew they must be orphans; that is, such as are not able to defend themselves from injuries, nor secure their own right unto their inheritance.

The sure foundations of our eternal salvation were laid in His death and resurrection. So, it is said, that when God laid the foundation of the earth, and placed the corner-stone thereof, ‘the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy’, Job 38:7. Although the foundations were only laid, yet that being done by infinite power and wisdom, which would infallibly accomplish and perfect the whole, it was a blessed cause of praise and ascribing glory to God. Yet were the continued actings of the same power required unto the perfection of it. The foundation of the new creation was laid gloriously in the death and resurrection of Christ, so as to be the matter of triumphant praises unto God. Such is the triumph thereon described, Colossians 2:15; I Timothy 3:16. And it may be observed, that as on the laying of the foundation of the earth, all the holy angels triumphed in the expression and demonstration of the infinite wisdom, power, and goodness of God, which they beheld; so in the foundation of the new creation, the apostate angels, who repined at it, and opposed it unto their power, were led captives, carried in triumph, and made the footstool of the glory of Christ. But all this joy and triumph is built on the security of the unchangeable love, care, and power of Jesus Christ, gloriously to accomplish the work which He had undertaken; for had He left it when He left the earth, it had never been finished; for great was that part of the work which yet remained to be perfected.

(from Works of John Owen: Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews, PC Study Bible formatted electronic database Copyright © 2004, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. and Ages Software, Inc. All rights reserved.)

22 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page