Christ, Our Advocate
The blessed news of having Jesus as our paraclete.
The first book of the Old Testament provides an account of the life of Joseph, one of Jacob’s twelve sons who ends up an Egyptian slave by the hands of his own brothers. Forced to serve in the house of Potiphar, an official of Pharoah, he drew the attraction of his master’s wife. In time, she became physically obsessed with Joseph leading to a forceful invitation to begin a sexual relationship.
When he refused, she falsely accused him of attempted rape, resulting in a prison sentence. His life went from bad to worse without hope for justice or freedom. In time he was released under unusual circumstances and rose to second highest position in all of Egypt, subject only to Pharoah.
Still, for years he had suffered hardship, mistreatment, false accusations, and abuse. Never during his season of suffering did he have an advocate. No one ever spoke or acted in his defense. It is just the opposite for us as Christians.
The definition of an advocate is, “one who pleads the cause of another before a tribunal or judicial court.” Many have found themselves in the position of advocate when needing to present their case before a judge who oversaw a parking ticket violation.
But we cannot advocate for ourselves before the God of the universe. In 1 John 2:1, we read,
“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
The NIV translates the passage this way, “We have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” The verse reminds us of several important truths that are worth considering.
First, John speaks about our need for an advocate. He is concerned about the tendency of his readers to offend God through their disobedience. He is not speaking to unbelievers, but to those who make a profession of faith. It has been pointed out that Christians may be tempted to think lightly of their sin because they know that God is merciful. It is important to remind ourselves that through Christ our status as God’s enemy has been transformed to one in union with him.
We have been given the status of peace. The gospel needs to be regularly applied to our lives as long as we are on this side of heaven. One of the significant benefits of the gospel that John is accenting pertains to the role that Jesus Christ plays as the one who eternally stands before our heavenly Father and pleads on our behalf.
Secondly, John accents Christ's nature when he refers to his righteousness. It is important to understand that Jesus, and only Jesus, holds the qualification to advocate effectually for us. Jesus through his perfect life and death on the cross satisfies the requirements needed to bring us into a right relationship with God. Paul emphasis this truth in his letter to the church in Corinth:
“And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption" (1 Corinthians 1:30).
Through the redemptive work of our Savior, we have the righteousness of Christ. Christ took all our offenses against a holy God, placed them on the cross, and clothed us completely with his righteousness. When God looks at us, he sees the perfect life of Jesus, not our sin nor its consequence.
There is one final benefit to having the second person of the Trinity as our advocate. The Greek word for advocate is paraclete. Scholars say the term refers to the friends of the accused who voluntarily step in and personally urge the judge to decide in his favor.
For that to take place, the accused understands that he is in great trouble and has no hope of satisfying the coming judgment. His soul is in turmoil. The friends are not just present because they are being retained and paid, but deeply care and leave the troubled defendant in a state of comfort and peace. The defendant is left consoled and rejoicing.
This is what our advocate, Jesus, the Son of God, does for those he loves.
We worship a God that has demonstrated his love for us as our paraclete. May such a standing transform our view of self and of others who belong to the Savior.
Chuck Garriott is the founder and Executive Director of Ministry to State.