Question 14. Can there be found anywhere, one, who is a mere creature, able to satisfy for us?
Answer: None; for, first, God will not punish any other creature for the sin which man has committed; and further, no mere creature can sustain the burden of God’s eternal wrath against sin, so as to deliver others from it.
The idea of “satisfy for us,” is pointing towards the idea of someone who can take our punishment as a substitute for us, in our stead.
We have learned from the previous questions that we can not provide for our own satisfaction and that we must look to another in order to have peace with God. Question 14 thus begins to examine what kind of substitute we might need in order to for God’s justice to be satisfied in terms of the case that He has against us as sinners.
The emphasis in question 14 falls on the word “mere.” If we are to look for someone who can undertake the penalty of God’s condemnation against sin in our place that someone we must find must be more than a creature like ourselves. With this simple statement the Catechism shuts the door to any Savior candidate who is not more than human. Anyone who we turn to, in order to be our penalty bearer, must have credentials that include, “more than a mere creature.” Of course that rules out all humans that are not also Gods.
In answer #14 we are given two reasons why a “mere creature,” is not sufficient to bear our sins.
1.) Scripture teaches, “the soul that sinneth it shall die,” (Ezekiel 18:4) and so even if another mere creature could be found to bear satisfaction, if that “mere creature,” did not share in the manishness of man, it would be unjust of God to visit penalty of man upon a non-manish man. As man did the sinning, any creature that might be found to take the penalty, must have the soul of man. So, a mere creature that does not share in man manishness can not satisfy for man the sinner.
2.) The second reason that a mere creature can not satisfy God’s wrath in the place of sinners is that any creature who might conceivably be found, who was only a creature, could never endure the wrath of God against sin so that others might be delivered from God’s wrath. If the mere creature could not sustain the penalty of God for His justice wronged then those who might be being represented by that mere creature could not be saved.
No mere creature can stand before God’s indignation. No mere creature can abide in the fierceness of God’s anger (Nahum 1:6).
So, question 14 leaves us with the necessity to find a savior candidate who,
1.) Shares in our manishness so that as one who might conceivably satisfy for our sin with His death is connected with the “soul that sinneth” as man himself.
2.) Is more than man so that He might withstand the fury of God’s just penalty against sin.
The catechism teaches us that in order for someone to satisfy for our sins we need someone who is man and yet who is more than man. The Scripture points to that person,
Heb.2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; Heb.2:15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. Heb.2:16 For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Heb.2:17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
Question 15 teases out even more what we find in Hebrews 2. Jesus Christ was very God of very God (hence, more than a mere creature) and yet became a partaker of flesh and blood (hence, he shared in the “manishness of man”). Because of this Jesus Christ qualifies as one who can be one who can satisfy for sin.
So, no mere creature can be found who can satisfy God’s just penalty for our sin but there is one who is more than a mere creature who can relieve us of our sin and misery.