Growing up, my life revolved around sports. My dad was the Athletic Director at the high school I attended. The first two years I was in high school, I never understood why my dad would come home so tired from his job. He would talk about how hard it was and how he had to make so many difficult decisions. I never really understood why until one day my senior year, I was allowed to miss all of my classes and just follow him around for the day. It didn’t take long for me to see how hard his job was. It seemed like he was on his phone all day. He was talking to referees, athletic directors from other schools, principals, coaches, parents, volunteers, maintenance crews, and even Bermuda grass companies from Florida. Then came the various scheduled meetings with parents and coaches throughout the day. I couldn’t believe how many problems he had to solve and decisions he had to make. I never judged my dad again for being so tired when he got home from work.
In Exodus 18 there is a helpful dialogue between what seems to be a newly converted, Jethro, and the established leader of God’s people, Moses. After a night of reunion, retelling of the story of God’s salvation, and responding with joyful sacrifice, Jethro wakes up the next morning to go to work with Moses. Moses had a job much more difficult than my dad. He was the leader of hundreds of thousands of people. And when hundreds of thousands of people live together every day, there are going to be conflicts that arise. Moses was the judge and mediator for God’s people. One of Moses’ jobs was to listen to the problems and conflicts of the people and judge accordingly. Moses stood between the people of Israel and God to settle their problems by telling them what God expects. The people would come to Moses to ask him what God says they should do or how they should act. Moses would “make them know the statutes of God and his laws” (Ex. 18:16).
Just like I did with my dad, Jethro saw how hard this work was on Moses. Moses literally listened to the problems of the people of Israel and taught them the law of the Lord all day long (Ex. 18:13). Jethro saw how exhausted Moses was, and he knew it was impossible for him to do this job alone (Ex. 18:14). Ultimately, Jethro said this to Moses, “What you are doing is not good. You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone” (Ex. 18:17-18).
This is what makes the work of Jesus even more amazing. Jesus is the Mediator for his people. He stands between his people and God and settles the problem between us. Our sin against God is our biggest problem with him. By dying in our place, Jesus becomes the Mediator for millions and billions of people throughout history. But he is a perfectly sufficient mediator who needs no help. He alone is able to reconcile us with God. He will never grow tired, because he will exercise judgment and grace with infinite wisdom and strength. The work of bringing us back to God is never too heavy for him.
Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.