“intercessor, advocate and pray” are each words that have taken on religious meanings quite apart from their original intent. Nonetheless, Jesus fulfills every aspect of each of them. Learn how these words are used and it may change the way you view your trials.
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Our Scripture Lesson this morning adds some thoughts to what we observed last time.
Last time we saw that what Jesus did, He did once for all—for all time, for all sin, for all people.
Now we come to a more specialized aspect of that work. Even though His work was for all people, there is still a place of each individual coming to a recognition of that reality.
And for those who have gained that revelation, they have a powerful representative working for them. [Heb 9:24 ESV] For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.
This verse simply says that Jesus appears on our behalf, but it doesn’t say WHY. Why does He appear on our behalf? Is there something that we need? Would we be in trouble if He weren’t there on our behalf?
In our country of the United States, we have representatives who are in D.C. in the halls of congress. They are there on our behalf. They are supposed to speak for us.
We won’t go into how well they do that. Just know that their purpose, their job, is to speak for us, for you, for me.
In that sense, they are interceding for us.
However, the word “intercede” has taken on a different meaning than simply “speaking for.” It now has the connotation of helping me out of any trouble I might be in.
That is the way most people now understand the word.
That is due to our use and understanding of the word “advocate”, which we take to mean ‘lawyer.’ [1Jo 2:1 ESV] 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.
This verse has been used to show that Jesus is our lawyer when we are accused of sin.
Many fanciful stories have been concocted about Satan coming before the throne of God to bring accusation against us. But, then we are told to not worry, because Jesus is there to defend us.
It is kind of like there is this cosmic war going on in heaven before God’s throne.
It makes for great story-telling, and has been used for sermonizing, but it does not stack up with what the Bible says.
This is why you still see many believers worried about their salvation. They are trying hard to believe something which is not true.
The devil is not constantly before God’s throne trying to get a piece of you, but Jesus keeps pushing him away. [Rom 8:34 ESV] Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
Paul specifically argues against this idea that there is anyone who can condemn us. Yes, there may be those who try, but when we know the truth, we are free from believing those lies.
In this verse, we have the word ‘interceding’ and in the previous verse, we have the word ‘advocate.’
What I am saying is that both of these have been misunderstood, because we have defined them from our modern thoughts and usage rather than from their originally intended meaning.
ADVOCATE translates the word ‘paraclete’. You’ve heard that term before, haven’t you? PARACLETE?
It is another term for the Holy Spirit.
Paraclete is the Anglicized form, of the Greek and means “one who is called alongside.” And we have added the thought that the calling is for the purpose of helping, which is not too much of a stretch.
INTERCEDE, in its original English sense, carried the idea of conversation. The Greek word from which it is translated also originally had this idea.
Our idea of intercession is something akin to “a struggle on behalf of another.”
If it is the idea of ‘conversation’, then what is Jesus talking with the Father about?
As we try to wrap our minds around this, let’s not forget that we are trying to explain supernaturally eternal things with a limited natural vocabulary.
The reality is that we do not know about that conversation. We are simply told that it is. That is how we have gotten our misunderstandings. We have assumed things based on the supposed meanings of words and developed stories around those meanings.
However, we are told some specific aspects of this intercession on our behalf. [Rom 8:26ESV] Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
The first thing to notice here is that it is about our prayers.
We may often find ourselves in the place of not knowing how to pray for something. That has been true for me. Has it ever been true for you?
What is the reality of prayer? We have talked a little about this a couple of weeks ago.
When Jesus spent all night in prayer, do you suppose that His prayer request list was that long? Not hardly.
Our word “PRAY” has taken on a religious sense, but that was not its original idea. Remember, much of what we understand came from the KJV, which was written in Elizabethan English—the language of Shakespeare.
Here are just two different lines from a couple of his plays.
I pray thee, gentle mortal, sing again. (Mid-Summer’s Night Dream)
And I pray thee, tell me, for which of my bad parts didst thou first fall in love with me? (Much Ado About Nothing)
Do you get the sense of anything religious or spiritual here? No. It is simply an old English word for ‘ask’ as in “I ask you, please.” Or, as Aunt Susie might have said a couple of decades ago—“What, pray tell, is that supposed to be?!?”
When we see the word ‘pray’ in the NT, then, we should think more about the idea of asking God something during conversation. Prayer is having conversation with God, not just running down a list of things to ask for.
And when we don’t know what to say, the Spirit takes over the conversation. I’ve been around important people, and I didn’t know what to say or to ask. It would’ve helped if I had someone to come alongside to speak for me.
A representative, an INTERCESSOR—as we saw in the beginning—would be a great benefit.
We may not how to pray the right way, to say what needs to be said as a human being before the throne of Almighty God; but Jesus does.
Acting as our high priest for things spiritual, acting as our lawyer for things legal, acting as our representative for whatever is on our mind, Jesus is the best you could ask for. Wouldn’t you agree? [Heb 7:25 ESV] Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
“Save to the uttermost” means much more than just our eternity.
The word ‘save’ extends to every aspect of our life, not just our spirit. He is able to completely bring us to wholeness in mind, body and spirit, because He has been there and done that. [Heb 4:15 ESV] For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Our intercessor, our advocate, our representative knows what we are made of. He has experienced everything we have or will experience. There is nothing that is hidden from Him or foreign to Him.
You cannot do anything to take Him by surprise, to catch Him off-guard. The devil cannot do anything to you that will catch Jesus off-guard.
Therefore, all we should do is—RELAX. GOD’S GOT THIS.
THE RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH
Have you noticed that the Rapture is once again gaining the forefront of people’s thinking today? As we observe all that is going on in the world today, how do you answer people who want to know about God’s plan?
What does the Bible say about this important event?
What do YOU believe about this end-of-the-age report?
Find out in my article RE-THINKING THE RAPTURE.
You can get it here.