1 John 2:1-2 - Jesus Christ, our advocate
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But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous.1 John 2:1.
A long-standing employment dispute had reached deadlock when I was asked to take on the role of acting principal of a theological college. The file was brought to me in my first week and I read diligently through it. It appeared that both sides had a valid argument and that neither was prepared to compromise. I contacted the lawyers, who were quite happy to continue with the impasse. Every time the matter went to court and was subsequently postponed, they could charge their fee. What we needed was someone to act for us before the aggrieved party and find a way to resolve the dispute. Someone who would plead our case and present a solution that would satisfy the complainant. Thankfully, the right person was found, and the dispute was settled swiftly and satisfactorily.
In 1 John 2:1-2, John shows us that our sin breaks our fellowship with God and that we all have need of someone who will stand before God and intercede for us to resolve the deadlock. He shows us that Jesus Christ is the one who intercedes before the Father as our advocate.
In v.1 John speaks tenderly to the church, calling them his “little children” and speaking to them as a father would to his beloved family. He admonishes them in love, with the purpose of showing them how to live their lives so that they do not fall into sin and break fellowship with one another and with the Triune God.
However, he has already proved that there is no one who does not sin and shown that to claim to be without sin is to call God a liar (1 John 1:8-10). Therefore, the statement “if anyone does sin,” does not refer to the habitual sin of the unbeliever who has not repented, but to acts of sin committed by the believer. These grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30) and must be confessed and forgiven to restore fellowship with the Father.
The only one who can act as a mediator, to intercede with the Father on our behalf is Jesus Christ, the one who is “righteous” (v.1). Calvin says, “It follows that all the saints who have ever been and shall be, have need of an advocate, and that no one except Christ is equal to undertake this office” (p.171). Christ alone can act as an advocate on our behalf because he is both sinless and he has given his life for us as a sacrifice of atonement to make us right with God (v.2).
In the Old Testament, the high priest entered the most holy place each year and came before the mercy seat with the blood of a sin offering (Lev 16:15). The letter to the Hebrews reminds us that Jesus Christ himself entered the holy place by means of his own blood, as a perfect offering for sin on our behalf (Heb. 9:11-14). When we sin, we turn to Christ our advocate who pleads his own sacrifice of blood for us before the Father.
Lest we should imagine that Christ’s sacrifice only applies to us or that there are some regions in the world where Jesus’ atoning blood is not effective, John states clearly that the atonement made by Jesus Christ is sufficient for the “sins of the whole world” (v.2). This should drive us out to take the good news of sins forgiven and restoration to relationship with the Father through the Son to the ends of the earth.
“But when Christ appeared as high priest of the good things that have come… he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption” (Heb 9:11-12).
Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for sending your Son into the world to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world. Grant that we may bear the good news of salvation to the ends of the earth. Fill us with grace and with your Holy Spirit that your holy name may be magnified throughout the world.
Through Jesus Christ, our advocate and redeemer.
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Continue to pray for Archbishop Stephan Than in the Anglican Church in the Province of Myanmar, his bishops, clergy, and members who are suffering from hardship, food shortages, work issues, all during the pandemic.
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