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A View from the Altar / Having an Advocate
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Having an Advocate

When we were at the airport in Guangzhou, China, a problem came up with our airline tickets.  I speak no Mandarin, and the ticket agents spoke no English.  Pointing, nodding, and shrugging weren’t working out.  So our guide intervened, figured out the problem, and got it settled to the satisfaction of all concerned.  It was great to have an advocate speak on my behalf.

We usually define an intercessor as a “go between,” which is fine as far as that goes, but it doesn’t go far enough.  John calls Christ our Advocate, which says he not only mediates between the greater and the lesser, but also speaks in defense of the guilty.

Job was an advocate for his family (Job 1:5).  He sacrificed on their behalf, and Satan falsely accused him for his righteousness.

In the story of David and Mephibosheth, you may recall that Mephibosheth got slandered and ripped off by Ziba (the steward of the house of Saul — 2 Sam 19:24-30).  David, not knowing the truth of their dispute, settled the controversy by arbitrarily splitting the property down the middle, giving half to Mephibosheth and half to Ziba.  The story leaves the reader angry and offended at David for such a foolish and unthinking settlement.  The bigger lesson is that Mephibosheth needed an Advocate — one to plead his case before the King.

After Isaiah’s recitation of the great sins of Israel, he “wondered that there was no intercessor.”  (Isa 59:16)  Not only was Israel sinful and without excuse, but they had nobody to speak on their behalf.  In this regard they reaped what they had sown (Isa 1:23).  They did not advocate the cause of the widow and orphan, so they found themselves without an Advocate as well.  Only then did the Lord himself arise to their salvation.

Christ stood up for Mary when she bestowed worship at his feet (Jn 12:7) and for the woman taken in adultery (John 8:10-11).  “Where are your accusers?” he asked after shaming them out of his presence.  It’s hard to find a better foreshadowing of the judgment seat of Christ where his people stand before him redeemed and pure and his enemies are vanquished and banished.  While the religious leaders fumed about it, Christ told a crippled man his sins were forgiven (Lk 5:20).  And again, when a woman of low reputation worshiped him and washed his feet with her hair, Christ pronounced her forgiven and put her accuser to silence (Luke 7:36-50).

So John says that if we sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous (1 Jn 2:1).  Yes, he bridges the gap between the high God and lowly man, but he also speaks on behalf of the guilty.  Speaking as a confirmed member of the sinners’ tribe, nothing is a greater relief than knowing I have one to advocate on my behalf.

otherbrothersteve@gmail.com

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