Nine years ago, Tom Hanks starred in a movie called “Bridge of Spies.” I don’t usually do this, but I’m going use that movie and the true story behind, it to introduce a wonderful Bible doctrine – Jesus Christ is God’s Mediator between Himself and us.

In 1960 an American U2 spy plane was shot down over the USSR, and its pilot Francis Gary Powers was captured. This was at the height of the “Cold War,” and this incident was a huge embarrassment for the American CIA. Although there was much national sympathy for Powers, in truth, he was not popular among his peers. He failed in his mission and had disobeyed orders.

Meanwhile, in New York, three years earlier the FBI had arrested a Soviet spy named Rudolf Abel. The United States wanted to make a public example of Mr. Abel, so he was to be put on trial. But the government couldn’t find a lawyer who was willing to defend him. It could have been a career-ending move whoever it was. Finally, James B. Donovan, an insurance lawyer, was convinced by his employer to take the case. Reluctantly at first, but eventually Donovan put every ounce of his energy into defending this man who was clearly guilty. Also, in spending much time together in preparation, Donovan became friends with his country’s enemy. As predicted, the lawyer and his family were harassed as traitors to their nation, and despite all he could do, Donovan lost the case. Abel was condemned. But still his lawyer would not quit, and the case went to the Supreme court, where it eventually ended in failure. One consolation was that Donovan was able to get the death sentence commuted to a prison sentence.

Then – some months later, Lawyer Donovan got a mysterious letter from East Germany. It was purportedly from the family of Mr. Abel, asking for Donovan’s help. But consulting with Abel it became obvious that this was not the case. He took the letter to the CIA, which understood it to be an effort by the USSR to garner a prisoner swap – Francis Gary Powers for Rudolf Abel. The rest of the movie is about how that prisoner exchange was made.

But real life isn’t like the plot of a short story; it always creates interesting twists and turns. A young American student, named Frederick Pryor, was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was in East Germany, when its border to the West was closed. He was trapped. Pryer ended up in an East German jail, and that country was determined to use him for political gain. While Donovan was working to free Gary Powers, whom he didn’t like, and to help Rudolf Abel, whom he did like, he heard about innocent young Pryor. Donovan insisted that he had to be added to any deal concerning a pair of guilty spies. This then made things very complicated because it involved a third country – East Germany. Remember, Donovan was dealing with a man who was his friend, a man he didn’t like and now with a man who was totally innocent.

I would like to use James B. Donovan as an illustration of Jesus Christ, the mediator between God and men. After the Powers/Abel affair, in 1962 Donovan went on to negotiate the release of about 1,200 other political prisoners. He was a highly successful mediator. He saved the lives of a great many people.

How is this a picture of Christ, and what has this got to do with us?

Let’s begin with the PROBLEM.

Unlike the Powers/Abel affair where both nations were at fault, in our case there IS one righteous party, and it isn’t us. You and me, – we are as far from Him in holiness and nature, as Soviet communism is from true liberty. I Timothy 2:5 introduces three parties – there is one God, and there are many men, but between us there is a mediator, Christ Jesus. You may tire of me, going over this fact, but I am never going to shut up about it – you and I are sinners. Because of the sin of our first father – our progenitor Adam – we were born as aliens from God. We are as far from God as Vladimir Putin, or Joseph Stalin is from your saintly grandmother. The Bible tells us that all of us came into this world as children of disobedience, children of God’s wrath and as the true children of our father, the devil. If you need scriptures to substantiate that declaration I’d be happy to share them with you (Ephesians 2; John 8:22).

As children of disobedience, we have lived in that disobedience every day of our lives. “There is none righteous, no not one.” “All have sinned and come short of the glory and righteous of God.” And by law, the wages of sin is death – beyond the physical, this involves spiritual and eternal death. As transgressors – as criminals, spies and enemies of God – we have already been tried and condemned. You might picture yourself as a patriot, flying a U2 spy plane over the enemy, but you are a spy. You might picture yourself as an innocent, who just happened to be born to people who were sinners. You were at the wrong place at the wrong time. But you are on the wrong side of sin and the wrong side of God’s law. And now you are a prisoner under the penalties of that law. Those are the facts, and your opinion in the matter doesn’t matter. What is it that God says? “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men…” – Romans 1:18. “Let no man deceive you with vain words; for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience” – Ephesians 5:6.

As I said, in the Powers/Abel affair, both the U.S.S.R. and the United States were at fault. But in our case there IS one righteous party. Paul tells us in our text: “There is one God.” And Moses said, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” – Deuteronomy 6:4-5. “Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first and I am the last; and beside me there is no God” – Isaiah 4:6. I will return to this verse later. In the New Testament we read: “To us there is but one God, the father, of whom are all things, and we in him, and Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him” – I Corinthians 8:6.

And this one God is not like any other professed deity in the panoply of human religious philosophy. The God to whom Paul refers is absolutely righteous – the complete opposite of us in our sinful nature. Moses sang in praise, “Who is like unto thee, O Jehovah, among the gods? Who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” (Exodus 15:11) The Psalmist exhorted all creation: “Exalt Jehovah our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the Lord our God is holy.” (Psalm 99:9) The angels of God “cried one to another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts…” (Isaiah 6:3). And the saints around God’s throne in Revelation 15 shall say, “Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? For thou ONLY are holy…”

So here is the gist of our spiritual problem: We are all sinners and God is all holiness. There is a great gulf fixed between us, so that we are unable to pass from our place and condition to God. There is no exception. There is no righteousness nor any physical or spiritual strength to bridge the gap. Just as Gary Powers, behind bars in Russia, could not walk away and return to America… And just as Rudolf Abel barely missed being executed for spying, but ended up in an American prison… We are completely unable to crawl our way back to God on in our own strength and righteousness.

But there is a MEDIATOR between the holy God and sinful man, the man Christ Jesus.

This mediatorship was created by the sovereign God Himself. The sinner has never been in a position positive enough to call for help. We are so below the level of Jehovah that we are beyond even the right to ask for a mediator. If we were in the right… if we were righteous… we might have a right to plead for an intercessor. But as prisoners of wrath… as spiritually dead… and as rebels of our own volition, we would never have considered a mediator. It was God himself who chose to intervene.

Motivated by nothing else but His own self-generated love, God chose to bring the Gary Powers and Rudolf Abels of the world back to Himself. “Herein is love, not that we loved God (because we didn’t), but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiate for our sins” – Christ satisfied the law which condemned us. (I John 4:10). “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” ( I John 4:9).

I could – and probably should – talk once again about Christ, who was depicted in the Passover lamb. I could return to the double sacrifice on the Day of Atonement, when a goat was killed and his blood was sprinkled on the Mercy Seat according to the command of God. And from there I should go back to the Scapegoat who carried away the sins and guilt of the wicked. But this morning, I’m going to assume you know about Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.

Moving on, we see that one of the effects of His sacrifice was that Christ became the mediator between the holy God and the worthless spiritual criminal. “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” I am here to testify to you that Christ Jesus has paid the ransom necessary to bring you home. And He is the only one who can do this. He is the “ONE mediator between God and men.” “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” – Acts 4:12. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man cometh unto (God) the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “He that believe on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not he Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on Him” – John 3:36. There is only one authorized James B. Donovan. There is only one mediator between God and men.

It is necessary in the case of a mediator to have some sort of connection between both parties. In the case of Christ Jesus, we start with the eternal Son of God. There could be no closer connection than that.

Now I will take you back to Isaiah 44:6 as promised. “Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” Jehovah, the King of Israel, declares Himself to be the first and last – or as a Greek might say, He is the “alpha and the omega.” And that is precisely what Christ, the son of God, says of Himself in Revelation 1. No two beings could separately both be “first and last,” “alpha and omega.” They must somehow be tied together into one being, whether we can explain it or not. Furthermore, Isaiah says in the Hebrew language, “Thus saith Jehovah, the King of Israel, and his redeemer Jehovah.” My point is that “in the beginning,” and throughout all time, “was the living Word, the Son of God, and the Word was WITH God and the Word WAS God” – John 1:1. Jesus Christ, the Mediator of God, is God, and that is what underlies His authority.

But in addition to being the infinite Son of God, Jesus was born of a woman, and made under the law. Christ, the anointed Son of God, is also Jesus, the son of Mary – He is one of us but without our sin. “AND being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death even the death of the cross.” “Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” – I Timothy 3:16. And as Romans 8 tells us, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us…”

It does not matter much whether you are a beloved Rudolf Abel, a hated Gary Powers or if you consider yourself an innocent Frederick Pryor, you are an alien before God – separated from Him for eternity. But in His grace and love, the Lord has established the office of a Mediator and has given to Him the authority to negotiate your reconciliation to God. “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,” for the purpose of providing salvation and mediation. Christ came into the world “To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons,” and that “that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” – Galatians 4:5; and Titus 2:14.

Here is where my illustration swerves away from the spiritual reality: Rudolf Abel, but more particularly Powers and Pryor were delighted to be rescued and repatrioted. But the majority of mankind, always rebels at heart, are not much interested in being reconciled to God. Some are fearful of the angry face of His absolute holiness. Some are so consumed with themselves they can’t picture themselves worthy enough to be friends with the Lord. But these people are few and far between. The vast majority of humanit simply don’t have any interest in going home. They are happy being prisoners to sin; they are happy to remain in their lifeless jail cells.

As Christ Jesus was nearing the end of His earthly ministry and before He paid the price for the ransom of many, He looked through tear-filled eyes on the capital city of His nation, and He said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem thou that killest the prophets and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.” The divine and divinely authorized Mediator, did His work, paying the ultimate price to get it done, but the Abels, Powers and Pryors of the world have turned Him down time and time again throughout history.

I beg of you not to join them in their rejection. Considering your spiritual condition, turn from your rebellion through repentance and look to the Lamb of God, the Divine Mediator, the Lord Jesus. Put your faith and hope for deliverance in Him. Repent before God and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Your executioner is coming, the sentence against you is soon to be carried out. Please, reach out to the Saviour by faith. Do it this morning before it is too late.