“Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” (2 Nephi 2:27)
This verse, part of an address in which Lehi describes the atonement shortly before his death, has long coloured my view on Christ as mediator. It’s that phrase “all men” (I’m including women) that speaks to me. We often see the atonement discussed in terms of payment of debt, a debt we incur as a result of our sin, as a result of our harming others. This model is most explicitly laid out in Boyd K. Packer’s April 1977 conference address titled “The Mediator”, and which for me appears to lean heavily on the application of justice. This is the model I grew up hearing at church. The use of the term Mediator in the context of the conference address strikes me as somewhat strange when model described is much more one of redemption of a debt.
I see the role of mediator as being far more expansive, as doing much more than settling a debt. Mediation, if done well, brings all parties involved to a reconciliation. In His role as Mediator, I see Christ not only as standing between me and God the Father, but, more importantly to me, between me and everyone else. We are all of us bumbling mortals causing harm to each other, most often inadvertently. Christ stands between us all, knowing our pain, sharing our anguish (Alma 7:11-13). From where does the demand for justice originate if not from those who are hurt? Here Christ stands before us, with perfect empathy for our suffering, having paid any debt we are owed, having paid any debt we owe, seeking to reconcile us with the one who has caused us harm, with the one we have harmed. It’s a model of mediation I’ve seen approached more recently in the words of President Uchtdorf:
“The pure love of Christ can remove the scales of resentment and wrath from our eyes, allowing us to see others the way our Heavenly Father sees us: as flawed and imperfect mortals who have potential and worth far beyond our capacity to imagine. Because God loves us so much, we too must love and forgive each other.” (The Merciful Obtain Mercy, General Conference, April 2012)
In his post “An argument for “Mormon Universalism””, Benjamin Knoll suggests we select our own place in the heavens according to where we feel most comfortable. I enjoyed his thoughts. It struck me that one factor affecting how comfortable we will feel is going to depend very much on how happy we will be to share space with those who have hurt us; the extent to which we are able to forgive, to truly see others and ourselves as Christ sees each of us.