27 03 2017


I love a good Lawyer Television Show. I have seen every episode of Perry Mason. I have witnessed all of Ben Matlock’s charm and wit in the courtroom. I cherish the movie, “12 Angry Men,” filmed in one room where we witness a Jury deliberate over whether a young man is innocent or guilty. If it wasn’t for the character played by Henry Fonda getting those guys to examine the testimony carefully, that Kid wouldn’t have had a chance. I even get a kick out of observing the sass and no-nonsense approach of Judge Judy every now and then. Needless to say, if you have ever been in trouble with the law, you better have a good Lawyer!

When we think of Jesus spending his last evening with the disciples; we normally think of the iconic Last Supper in that upper room where they celebrated the Passover together. In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, you will read many details about the dinner itself but in the Gospel of John, well he never mentions the breaking of a crumb of bread or the drinking of any wine. As a matter of fact, John never mentions a meal at all. Yet if you want the important details of that historic Thursday Night, our Boy John gives us more information than anyone else about what really happened with Jesus and the gang that night. John provides us with what has been theologically referred to as “Jesus’ Farewell Discourse.”

Here are some of the quotes of our Lord and Savior Jesus preserved for us by the Holy Spirit acting through John as a stenographer on the case. In John 14:16-20, we read, “16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” Just a short moment later, John adds in Chapter 14 and verses 25-27 the following words, “25 All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Jesus is attempting to give his Followers some remarkable facts. He is talking about going away so that God’s Spirit can come to the disciples and fill them up to empower them in a way that will turn the world upside down and right side up. “Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come; but if I go, I will send him to you” (JOHN 16:7). So who is this person that Jesus calls our “another Advocate?”

It is not an accident that this name for the Holy Spirit is different in nearly every translation. The King James Version calls him “Comforter,” while other translations render it “Helper” or “Counselor.” Pastor Tim Keller tells us that whenever you find this many translations disagreeing like this, it’s usually because the original word’s meaning is too nuanced and rich to convey via a single English word. A “comforter” can make you think of mere hand-holding, while a “counselor” has us picturing a therapist with his patient. A “helper” might make you think of the Spirit of God being nothing more than our divine gopher to fetch all the things we will need to get by. This may be one of the reasons why the term Advocate, a legal word, sometimes used for an attorney who represents you in court brings out the clearest aspects of this Greek word, “paraklete.” “Paraklete” is a noun, the verb form being “parakaleo.” “Kaleo” means to call or direct someone. “Para” means to come alongside, the prefix appearing often with the same meaning in English, as in paralegal or paramedic. It means to come alongside in order to support. To “come alongside” means to be sympathetic, to be in a relationship, to stand in someone’s shoes.

So the Holy Spirit may be our ‘counselor at law,” or put in another way, “our defense attorney”. Your defense attorney definitely should be on and at your side if you are going to come out a winner in the courtroom of life. But you need more than just a good Buddy to hold your hand or cheer you on.  Your Advocate may actually have some pretty hard and challenging things to say to you, but they are all for your own good and for you to have any shot at experiencing a hope and a fruitful future.

What did Jesus do for us on the cross? I can almost hear you say, “That’s easy. He died for our sins and that means we can be forgiven.” And that would be part of it but not the whole scope of the lengths that the Lord goes for us so we can live fully and freely in the identity of being children of God.  Unfortunately, God is holy and there is a bar of justice that demands perfection. None of us ever even come close to passing any test of becoming morally perfect! Deep down in our soul, we know that this bar of justice is there just as the Bible tells us it is. And we know we are in no condition to proclaim ourselves “Not Guilty,” and to do so keeping a straight face! So we cry out to God for somebody to rescue us and redeem us from an eternal imprisonment!

What does a legal advocate do for you? If you are accused of a crime and you go to court, what is your defense attorney to you? There is a sense in which, in court, your defense attorney is you. As the theologian Charles Hodge once said, “In court you disappear into your advocate. If you stammer but your lawyer is eloquent, what do you look like in court? Eloquent! If you are ignorant but your lawyer is brilliant, what do you look like in court? Brilliant! In some cases, you may not even be required to speak or have to appear in court. Your attorney appears in your place, as your substitute. So what do you look like in court? You look like whatever your advocate looks like. If your advocate wins, you win. If your advocate loses, you lose. In short, you’re lost in your advocate! You are in your advocate.

Now we see the power of what John says to us in 1 JOHN 2:1, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” We stand guilty before the bar of justice and the Lord doesn’t give us a good example that we could never follow or just some kind words as we go to the execution! The Holy Spirit makes clear to us the law and tells us how we’ve broken it over and over again. But here is where the Bible takes the metaphor far enough to bring us home. If we are accused in court, we don’t just need an “Atticus Finch.” We have killed the mockingbird and the guilt is on our heads.

But the Holy Spirit is not resorting to tugging on the heartstrings of the jury or the judge, or to try to delay the verdict due to loopholes and legal technicalities. Our lawyer doesn’t need spin or emotional manipulation— but a real case. And that is just what Jesus has. What is his case? John goes on to tell us in 1 JOHN 2:2 “Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” When Jesus goes before the Father, he is not actually asking for mercy or pity. Jesus says with integrity and conviction, “This is the law, and the law demands my client’s acquittal.” You want to make a case that is not based on how the court feels at the time but is open and shut according to the law. And Jesus has one! Jesus Christ can say, in effect, “Father, my people have sinned, and the law demands that the wages of sin be death. But I have paid for those sins. See, here is my blood, the token of my death! On the cross I have paid the penalty for these sins completely. Jesus has an infallible case. This is why John could say that when Christians confess their sins they are forgiven because the justice of God now demands it! If Jesus is your Advocate, the law of God is now completely for you. It’s on your side of the scale. When you put your faith in Jesus, when you say from the heart, “Father, accept me because of what Jesus did,” then Jesus’ work on the cross is transferred to your account.

When God looks at you, if you are a Christian, he sees you “in Christ.” In yourself, alone on your side of the scale, you are a sinner; but in him you are perfect, just, beautiful and totally righteous.  You’re lost in your Advocate.



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