- Jesus Christ: The Sinner's Advocate Gerson Robles 47:10
The topic this morning is entitled Jesus Christ: The Sinner’s Advocate. And we read our key text from 1 John 2 verse 1 which says, “My little children, these things write I unto you that you sin not, and if any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
So we have an Advocate with the Father. I imagine when John wrote these words, how precious just the thought of Jesus being an Advocate was to him. He spent 3 and a half years with Jesus Christ on the earth. And he loved Jesus Christ: he loved Him. And then Jesus after He was resurrected, went to heaven and the faith of John led him to look upon Jesus in heaven as an Advocate.
Let us do the same thing. Do you remember what it says in Hebrews chapter 12 verse 2? “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is…”, where is He today? “…and is sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
As we look to Jesus, and this term looking is very interesting – it is an ongoing looking. It is an ongoing beholding of Jesus, where our faith does not, is not distracted from where He is today. As we look at the continuing ministry of Jesus – of our Lord in heaven – our faith should be, should become stronger. It should be strengthened.
The ministry of Jesus for us, for the human race had different stages throughout history, and I just briefly want to mention this as we begin. Before the foundation of the world, how did Jesus minister to us? He did Jesus minister to us before the foundation of the world? There’s an interesting verse found in Job chapter 33 verse 4. It says, “The he is gracious unto him and sayeth, deliver him from going down to the pit, I have found a ransom.” The ransom was Jesus Christ. Before the world was created, God found a ransom.
And then there was this period of the Old Testament where we see creation and the fall of man, right up through to the cross – the Old Testament, where we see Christ prophesied in types and symbols, figures and shadows – the Sanctuary. And then when the fullness of the time was come, the Bible says in Galatians. When the fullness of the time was come, “God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law” to redeem them, that were under the law. The fullness of the time was come when we saw Jesus upon the earth. In reality manifested, the fulfilment of all prophecies.
Then there was a New Testament period, and this is the period where Jesus ministered to us in the heavenly sanctuary. And He continues to do so. I’d like to invite you to turn your Bibles to the book of Hebrews chapter 12 verses 22-24. We’re reading from Hebrews 12:22-24, it says “but ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…” Further down as you go to verse 24 it says, “…and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant.” So we are come by faith unto where? It says mount Sion. It is not an earthly city, it says we are come unto the city of the living God – the heavenly Jerusalem, to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, “and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks better things than that of Abel.” This is where our faith takes us, to Jesus Christ, no longer now on the cross 2000 years ago. Our faith is not historical, it is present, focused upon the ministry of Jesus Christ the Mediator of the new covenant. This is where our faith takes us today.
Now you’ll have noticed in the Bible, in describing the ministry of Jesus, there are certain terms applied to Jesus. The titles of “Advocate” like we read in 1 John 2:1. There’s the Advocate, High Priest, Intercessor, Mediator, the Minister of the sanctuary. All these terms are connected in Jesus Christ, and describe what Christ is doing for us at the right hand of God today.
Have a look at Romans chapter 8 verse 34. Do you ever feel that you, you lack confidence in coming to God by faith in prayer? Do you ever feel like you lack confidence? Have a look at Romans 8:34. It says, “who is he that condemmeth? It is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” Why should we feel condemmed? Why? Who is he that condemns? Who is it? Who is he that condemns? The accuser of the brethren – Satan. Satan condemns, but the question remains, who is he that condemns? There’s no reason why he should condemn when Jesus Christ bore our sins upon the cross, resurrected, was accepted by the Father, sits at His right hand and intercedes for us today. Why are we going to lack confidence?
Now just by looking at these terms, Advocate, High Priest, the other terms we mentioned; the Intercessor, the Mediator and the minister of the sanctuary, which are connected in Jesus. We can see what the Lord is actually doing for us, between us and God. But when we try to understand the term advocate. Have you ever tried to understand the term Advocate in 1 John 2:1? When we try to understand that term, we have to be careful that we don’t get the meaning of the term by present-day definitions. For example, if you think of an advocate today – who needs an advocate? Who needs an advocate? If you’re guilty of a crime, you need and advocate don’t you. You will want to get a good lawyer. You will want to be represented by somebody who can defend you effectively. Who can go with you to court and gain the sympathy of the judge to get you a lighter sentence. You want a good advocate. So by thinking of these things we sometimes can come to wrong conclusions when we think that, yes an advocate is somebody who knows what they’re doing. Who will get me the favour of God. Jesus Christ is not pleading for God to have sympathy for us, because God already did. He’s not pleading that God may have more mercy, or just be a little bit more patient, because God already proved His mercy. So we have to be careful that we don’t get definitions of our Lord’s advocacy by present-day definitions.
But we have an Advocate and often we look at the book of Daniel for example where we see the judgment was set and the books were opened – Daniel chapter 7 verses 9-10. And we often read that, and how do you feel about that verse? Where it says, “the judgment was set and the books were opened.” How do you feel? How does that make you feel? if your life came up in review before God? Are you confident? So it is important to get the right understanding of Christ’s advocacy for us because if we don’t understand, we will lack the confidence we need in these last days. We will lack the faith that we need in these last days. The hope and the assurance and the strong consolation that we should have in the ministry of Jesus Christ for us today.
We know that God had mercy on us. God the Father, see what was Jesus Christ – He was showing who the Father was. When He came to earth, when we saw Jesus, we saw the Father. But sometimes we think of Jesus as this merciful person and then God as somebody whom Jesus is just pleading with to have some mercy. It is not that way. Jesus is an express image of the Father, He is the image of the invisible God. In fact, in 2 Corinthians chapter 5 verse 19 it says this, “that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself.” God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself and Jesus remember, He said, “therefore does my Father love me…” Why did Jesus say that the Father loves Him? Because, he said, “I lay down my life.” The Father loves Jesus, because He laid down His life for you and me. That shows how much God loves us. That shows how much mercy He has for us. How much long suffering He has.
The Advocacy of Jesus today is not so that He can get some sympathy from God for us. It is something else. We must remember that the Bible says, that “for God so loved the world that He have His only begotten Son.”
To get a correct understanding of the advocacy of Jesus, we need to turn to the Scriptures. And there is so much material that is involved in this theme, but I only have a few minutes so I can only dwell on two. And these two are, the two points I want to dwell on are in the form of two questions. Why did we need an Advocate? And, why could Jesus alone be our Advocate?
First of all, why did we need and Advocate? To understand the answer to this question, we need to understand a certain word in the New Testament. Its found in Romans chapter 5 verse 11. And the word is the very last word in that verse. Romans 5:11, the very last word is atonement. What does the word atonement mean? (Audience: reconciliation) . It does, it means reconciliation. This word, if you break it up, see when the Bible was translated into English, you know the translators found this interesting word in Greek and there’s forms of it in Hebrew. And they tried to find a way to interpret the meaning behind this word, and they though, at-one-ment. At-one-ment, atonement. If you break it up, it means at-one-ment. Bringing two parties that were separated back together. This is exactly what the Lord does in His advocacy.
So it is, its easier for us to understand. See the atonement means this. It means the result, the atonement means the result of Christ’s ministry to us. In brining us together with God. We need be brought back together with God. We were separated. In Isaiah 59 verse 2 it says, “your iniquities have separated between you and your God.” Why do our iniquities separate us from God? Its because the Lord is more pure than to behold iniquity. The Bible says He cannot behold sin, He cannot stand in the presence of sin, sin cannot stand in His presence.
And so when Adam and Even chose sin, they entered into a, or they just plunged into this abyss of separation, a gulf as eternal – you know, its impossible to exaggerate that separation that occurred because of sin. But what do we see? In the book of Genesis, if you think about Adam and Eve, the moment they sinned, what do we see them doing? Turn your Bibles to Genesis chapter 3, what do we see them doing? In Genesis chapter 3 verse 8? You see this is the effect of sin. This is what sin does to a relationship between you and God. What do we see Adam and Eve doing? It says, “and Adam and his wife…” what did they do? It says, “they hid themselves, from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. What does sin do? It separates, it breaks down relationships.
So then we should expect to see God going us far away as possible from Adam and Eve, right? Is that what we see in Genesis? What do we see? We see God in search of Adam and Eve. There’s something interesting about this. Sin alienates us from God, but then we see Jesus coming to the sinner. That is and Advocate. There is an Advocate in Genesis. We see and Advocate in 1 John 2:1, but we also see and Advocate searching for Adam and Eve in their sin, all the way back in Genesis. This is why we needed an atonement. To the question, why did we need an atonement – this is the answer. We needed an atonement because of the separation that sin had made.
Turn your Bibles to Ephesians chapter 2 verse 13, notice how the Apostle Paul describes this. Verse twelve first, “That at that time ye were without Christ…”, notice, have a look at the terms that Paul uses to illustrate separation. “At that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”
So you see what happened at the very beginning of creation, at the very beginning of human history? When Adam and Eve sinned, his soul was separated from God but God had mercy, and we find an Advocate in search for Adam and Eve in their lost condition. That’s why we see Jesus, right there in the beginning. When Adam and Even sinned, they opened the door to sin and misery on the whole of the human race, on all of his children. The Bible says that this estrangement, this alienation from God happens naturally to us. Because Adam, once separated from God could not bestow to his children what he didn’t possess. And if you have a look in Psalms chapter 58 verse 3, it says “the wicked are estranged from the womb, they go astray as soon as they be born speaking lies.”
God spoke about it in Genesis when he spoke to Satan, He said, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman and between thy see and her seed”. He spoke of a seed of Satan. The natural condition of sinful man is to be a child of Satan, to be at enmity, not with Satan but with God. That is the condition of a broken relationship that we inherit.
But as soon as there was a broken relationship there was a Mediator. As soon as there was alienation, there was an Advocate, there was an Intercessor – an atonement already been played out. For this reason, we see – it is amazing to me that we see in Genesis the Lord searching for the sinner. And have a look at that in Genesis chapter 3 again, have a look at what happens there. Genesis chapter 3 verses 8 and 9.
You see when Adam and Eve felt their lost condition, they felt that sense of separation, they wanted to get further from God because of their guilt and sin. And so they think that they can hide from God behind some trees. It sounds funny almost but, they felt that they could hide from God in the midst of the trees of the garden. The very next thing you read about in verse 8, it says, “and they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.” I wonder what the Lord God was saying then. I wonder what it was, what He was saying, because the Lord, our first parents there heard His voice, when as a result of sin you wouldn’t expect that. You know you would expect God to be as far away as He possible could from this guilty, guilty pair. But instead we see the Lord God walking and speaking and then it says, “the Lord God called unto Adam and said unto him, where art thou?”, Where are thou?
You know this is, you can read this the wrong way. You can read this and as in (in a stern, denunciatory tone), “Adam? Where are you?” That’s not how God is speaking here. How do you read it? How do you read this? What a question to ask – where art thou? Did God know where Adam was? What do you hear in the tones of this question? Do you hear condemnation? Or do you hear sympathy. Do you hear harshness? Or do you hear tact. Who is speaking? This is an Advocate. This is the sinner’s Advocate who is speaking to Adam and Eve.
As you follow through the dialogue of God speaking to Adam and Eve, before He ever pronounced a curse upon them, He promised them salvation. There’s an Advocate. Now the Bible says, that “with some have compassion, making a difference, and others save with fear, hating the garments spotted by the flesh” What do we see here Jesus doing? We see compassion. This is a compassionate Advocate coming to Adam and Eve – asking, “where are you?”, “where are you?” This is why we needed an atonement.
Now I’d just like to dwell on the last portion of our study today. On, what qualified Jesus to be an Advocate and High Priest. What was it that qualified Him? Why was Jesus alone able to be our Advocate? And there’s two points I’d like to dwell on here with this question. First is, His humanity and His sacrifice and the second is His temptations and suffering. So let’s have a look at His humanity and His sacrifice.
This is the first qualifying point that enabled Jesus Christ to become our High Priest and our Advocate. To effectively be an Advocate. Turn your Bible to Hebrews chapter 10 verses 5-12.
In verse 5 it says, “Wherefore when he…” that is Jesus Christ, “when He cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me…” It was necessary for Jesus to become human. For what purpose? For what purpose? To taste death for every man. As God He could not die, as a human, He could. It says, sacrifice and offering, God did not desire. What was the will of God? It says a “body hast thou prepared me”.
“In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second…” Now notice this, “…By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.”
You see what qualified Him to be our High Priest? It was the sacrifice of Himself as a human being. A sacrifice for sins. And when you see there in verse 9 when He says, “Lo, I come to do Thy will…” What was that? Think of Gethsemane, “not my will, but thine be done.” That was the will of God, that Christ should come and lay down His life as a human being. This is the first thing that qualifies Jesus Christ to become our Advocate. He is one of us! He is one of us! He Himself was the sacrifice and He Himself was the Priest. And He presents His own merits.
It’s very interesting what you see in the Scriptures regarding His sacrifice. In Revelation 13 verse 5 it says that He was the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world”. Its almost as though, when Christ pledged His blood, it was as though it actually happened in reality. So all those who were saved in the Old Testament, all those who exercised faith and were forgiven in the Old Testament were forgiven on the basis of Christ’s pledged blood who was yet to come. And everyone today who is forgiven, is forgiven on the basis of Christ’s shed blood. He was the Lamb slain form the foundation of the world. And yet today, yes He did come afterwards, He came to die for sin upon the cross, but today there is an interesting verse in Revelation 5:6 where it says, that He is like, Jesus is like in the temple of God and is like a “Lamb as though it had been slain.” His sacrifice is still effective for us there today. And that’s why we can have an Advocate, that is why we can have an Advocate because His sacrifice is still effective for us.
The second qualification of Him as High Priest, the reason why He could become our Advocate is because He suffered and He was tempted. And this is what I’d like to dwell on in the last portion of our study today. Turn your Bible to Hebrews chapter 2: 17 and 18. Let us read, “Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest…” do you see that? One qualification or qualifying aspect of Christ’s office of High Priest was what? That He should be made like unto His brethren that He may be a merciful and faithful High Priest… to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” We’re going to look at what this means here in a little while, but let’s move to Hebrews chapter 5 verses 1 to 3.
Let us read here, “For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God…” See, in the typical service, a priest, a High Priest had to be taken from among men and so in reality, Jesus Christ had to be taken from among men. So let’s keep reading, and the purpose for that was so that they could have sympathy. As it says here, “…that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity….” But before we going any further let’s pause there. Let us remember, let’s be careful how we understand this because the very next verse says this, look, “And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.” See the high priest, when he went into the temple had to offer what? A sacrifice for sins. Was it just for the people’s sins or was it also for himself? It was for himself too. Why did he offer sacrifice for himself? Because he was a sinner, that’s right. So when we read this verse here in Hebrews 5:1-3, we mustn’t bring Jesus Christ down to that level, where it says He had the same type of infirmity. Otherwise it says in verse 3, “for this reason”, or, “by reason hereof – for this reason” as for the people, so also for himself would he have to offer sacrifice. But Jesus is separate from sinners, perfect, undefiled.
Hebrews 7: 28, have a look at this. It says, “For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated…” that word consecrated means perfected, “… for evermore.” You see there’s a difference between the law and the reality. The law – the Old Testament, the type and the anti-type.
So one of the qualifying aspects though of Christ’s ministry was that He had to become a human being as we’ve seen, but also suffer being tempted. So that He can be compassionate. He can be merciful. He can have compassion on the ignorant, and on those gone out of the way. Have you backslidden? Christ has compassion on you. Are we ignorant of our own condition? Christ has compassion on us. So it is for this reason that He is qualified to be High Priest. And it is not because He has gone out of the way when He was on earth. It is not because He was ignorant while He was on earth. You see? There’s another reason why He can have compassion. It is found in what we read before in Hebrews chapter 2 verse 18 there, “for in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted.”
Let’s have a look at what this means now. There’s a very similar reference found in Hebrews chapter 2: 9 and 10. it says here, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. 10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”
We read before in Hebrews 2:18 that Jesus “suffered being tempted”. Often when we read these words, we don’t think much of them but there’s actually an interesting meaning to this word suffered. In Greek, it means that He experience pain. In the English, suffering doesn’t always equate to pain, but in the Greek it did. In this sense, He suffered under temptation. Why is this significant to us? Because it is through that experience that qualified Jesus to be an Advocate and to help us when we are tempted.
So what does it mean that he suffered under temptation? When you think about it, in our experience – do we always suffer under temptation? Do we always experience pain when we are tempted? Not always. Sometimes yes, but not always. Naturally, in fact we revel in a bit of temptation. The carnal mind loves to be tempted. It enjoys enticement. But here, it says that Christ “suffered” being tempted. Do you see the difference? Why did He suffer? Why was temptation so painful to Him?
Have a look at Hebrews chapter 1 verse 9, “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore, God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” No one ever hated sin like Jesus did. No one ever resisted sin like He did. Do you see why He suffered? See what happens with us is when we are tempted, some give in here, some give in here and some give in here (speaker points to different levels upon a scale). God measures the temptations so that we will not be overwhelmed, but with Christ, He resisted from the point of birth through to the cross. And every time He resisted, the temptations grew stronger. The strength of temptation became more powerful. Why? Because He resisted. Somebody once said, he that yields, yields before the last great strain.
The Bible says that Christ resisted unto blood, striving against sin. Do you see why it was such a strong temptation for Jesus and why He was perfected through sufferings? The stronger the temptation, the more perfect the sacrifice. He was perfected through suffering temptation. When He came in contact with sin, everything within Him was suffering. Because He was pure, holy, undefiled, separate from sinners.
But see there was a weakness in Jesus. And this is why He can identify with our weaknesses. What was Christ’s weakness? Because when He came to earth He took upon Him a weak human nature. Now what was Christ’s weakness? Have you ever though about this? I’d like to read here one statement from the book Confrontation, page 85. See Christ was familiar with absolute power. Why? Because He came from heaven, He laid down that power – voluntarily laid down, He laid it aside to come to earth as a little baby. But He was familiar with absolute power, and this is where His weakness lay. Notice what Ellen White wrote here,
“Christ was put to the closest test…” Can there be anything stronger than this for Jesus? What was the closest test that he ever bore? This one – it says this, “Christ was put to the closest test, requiring the strength of all His faculties to resist the inclination, when in danger, to use His power to deliver Himself from peril and triumph over the power of the prince of darkness. ”
Now where in Jesus life did this temptation come to Him the strongest? (Audience: the wilderness). Ok there was the wilderness but I think there was another time where it came to Him even stronger. At the cross – because that is where He resisted unto blood. That’s where He was perfected through sufferings. Satan through everything he had at Him at the cross. And you can see Satan playing upon that weakness when He spoke through the scribes and the Pharisees and the leaders, the priests, when he said, “ohhh look at Jesus, He saved others but Himself He cannot save! Come down from the cross and we’ll believe that you are the Christ!” That was Satan speaking. That’s Satan trying to get Jesus to exercise His power to deliver Himself. That is why Jesus can identify with our weakness.
See Jesus had that powerful inclination. You know, many times we wrestle against our sinful bent, our sinful inclinations [and conclude] therefore Jesus must have had the same. No. We have to be careful with our conclusions. Jesus had inclinations, yes He had powerful inclinations yes but they were innocent. However, under the circumstances of the everlasting covenant He made with God to redeem the race, He had to resist that inclination to interfere will the will of God. Do you see what was happening? He came to do not His own will, but the will of God. And the will of God was for Him to lay down His life. And if He gave in to His inclination to deliver Himself – He would have broken that everlasting covenant that He made with God.
Can Jesus identify with our weakness? More than yes. He absolutely can. So therefore we read, as we close this morning in Hebrews chapter 4 verses 14 to 16:
“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
Now John said “these things have I written unto you that ye sin not.” Everything that is recorded in the gospels, in the Bible – for what purpose is it recorded? That we sin not. But, if any man sin, what do we have? We have an advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ the righteous. He is sitting at the right hand of God today for not much longer. And while He is there, it is a time of mercy and grace in a time of need. And I pray the Lord will help us take hold of that grace.