Friday, July 11, 2008

The Best Advocate

I've taken to listening Tim Keller's sermons in the car and at the gym sometimes. Unfortunately they have to be purchased, but they are well worth the money. Lately I've been listening to Keller's series on Hebrews. This excerpt is one I listen to over and over again. I don't think it will ever get old:
When I first became a Christian, I heard of this, that Jesus Christ intercedes for us before the Father, and it was of no comfort to me at all, and one of the reasons was it sounded bizarre. And it was also of no comfort to me, partly because, I think, of some of the ways in which I had seen lawyers profiled in court. And because of what I saw in some of those high profile trials, I really misunderstood what this was all about. And here’s what I thought was happening, and here’s why it wasn’t any comfort to me:

I figured every day Jesus came before the Father with a kind of case load. And He’ll pull out a folder, “Keller.” So He looks up and He says, “Ah, yes, Father, You know all these promises he says he’s made to change and change, and he’s doing it again anyway… But please give him a break. For My sake… Give him one more chance. I know he means well. This one more time, this could be it, and You owe me—I went to Earth and all those things. So, pretty please, I ask for mercy for my client. I throw myself on the mercy of the court.”

And then I expected, I guess, that the Father would say, “Well, all right.”

And here’s the reason why that was of no comfort to me: Because I understood that what Jesus was doing—if that’s the intercessory work of Jesus Christ—spinning to get mercy out of the Father, I thought to myself, how long can He keep that up? Because why wouldn’t one day finally the Father—there’s no particular reason why one day the Father couldn’t just say, “Look, he’s a minister now! It’s too late. I’ve had it—he can’t keep doing things like this.”

But that’s not at all the kind of advocate Jesus is. You see, an effective attorney doesn’t just wheedle and cajole and emotionally manipulate the jury and the judge—sometimes that might work, but actually, frankly, how long can you keep that up? An effective attorney has a case. And according to this passage [Hebrew 7], Jesus Christ is not up there asking for mercy. When you ask for mercy, that means you’ve lost the case. Do you know what He’s up there doing? Look, verse 27 and 28: "Unlike the other high priests who does not need to offer sacrifices day after day first for his own sins and then for the sins of the people, rather, He sacrificed for their sins once for all when He offered Himself.”

This is what Jesus is saying, as it were (it’s metaphorical, but I’ll get to that in a second): “Father, You demand justice. You are a just God. And my friends here, the people on whose behalf I’m speaking, are guilty. But I have made payment—there is my blood—and it would be unjust to get two payments for the same debt. Therefore because I’ve made payment for this debt, I am not here asking for mercy for my brothers and sisters. I am not here asking for mercy—I demand justice. Your very justice, Your very righteousness demands Your complete embrace and acceptance of them throughout eternity.”

That’s an infallible case! The book of Isaiah says that righteousness and justice, the divine justice and righteousness of God is inexorable so that the mountains are like dust in a scale by comparison.

1 comment:

Bumble said...

Amen, that brings joy and hope!