1 John 2:1-2 Part 1 - Jesus Our Advocate
This past week Klaven Embertson’s father passed away. On Friday there was a beautiful service held for Don Embertson in which Christ was celebrated through hymn and homily. The very first song that was sung was ‘Softly and Tenderly’. Please allow me just a moment to remind you of the words to this old hymn.
Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, calling for you and for me;
see, on the portals He’s waiting and watching, watching for you and for me.
Why should we tarry when Jesus is pleading, pleading for you and for me?
Why should we linger and heed not His mercies, mercies for you and for me?
O for the wonderful love He has promised, promised for you and for me!
Though we have sinned, he has mercy and pardon, pardon for you and for me.
I am sure that you are also familiar with the chorus:
Come home, come home, you who are weary, come home;
Earnestly tenderly, Jesus is calling, calling O sinner, come home!
This song is typically sung to call sinners to repentance and faith. As Dwight L. Moody lay in a hospital bed he said to Will Thompson, the author of this hymn, “Will, I would rather have written ‘Softly And Tenderly Jesus Is Calling’ than anything I have been able to do in my whole life.”
As I sang this song at the funeral I found myself thinking of the words in light of this occasion and I began to push back against the idea that when Christ calls us into eternity he would say, ‘Earnestly tenderly, Jesus is calling, calling O sinner, come home!’.
Did Don Embertson, who had a strong faith in Christ, here his Savior say, ‘Come home, O sinner, come home’?
I found myself longing to hear Jesus say to Don,
‘Earnestly tenderly, Jesus is calling, calling O saint, come home!’ or
‘Earnestly tenderly, Jesus is calling, calling O redeemed, come home!’ or
‘Earnestly tenderly, Jesus is calling, calling O child, come home!’.
It was not until a few hours later that I came home and sat in my office to look at today’s text that I realized that this song is rightly to be used as a call to faith and repentance; and also as a call of hope for Christians as they lay in their deathbed. In fact, Mr. Thompson was profoundly right when he wrote, ‘Earnestly tenderly, Jesus is calling, calling O sinner, come home!’
Our text this morning is found in 1 John 2:1-2and we clearly see that we are indeed sinners who are in great need for Jesus Christ the Righteous to be our advocate before the Father because we still sin in this life. In other words, we who are in Christ are the redeemed and we still will sin. We are children of God; and yet, because we still sin we need an advocate in heaven to speak on our behalf to the Father.
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. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2)
You and I continually strive to become more and more Christlike right up to the day that we are called home. Yet, we know that we will need Christ advocating and pleading our case before God right up until the last breath that we take in this life.
I will need Jesus to say to His Father in the moment of my death, “Father, I have suffered for this sinner. My righteousness is his now and forever.”
The second stanza of ‘Softly and Tenderly’ encapsulates so much of what we see in 1 John 2:1-2. Again, it says,
Why should we tarry when Jesus is pleading, pleading for you and for me?
Why should we linger and heed not His mercies, mercies for you and for me?
I see at least three truths that are brought out in this stanza.
First, Jesus is drawing sinners to himself and Jesus is continually pleading for His people before His Father. He pleads for them to come to Him and He pleads for the elect because this is his ministry of intercession now. ‘Jesus is pleading for you and for me’.
Secondly, Jesus is the advocate for all of the elect throughout the whole world. He is pleading ‘for me and for you’. He is pleading for people in every nation, He speaks on behalf of men and women from every tongue and tribe. Jesus is advocating for every one of His children whether they are young or old.
Thirdly, the song asks, “Why should we tarry? Why should we linger?” Why should we hesitate to come to Christ? He is our advocate. He is the righteous one who is representing us before the Father.
Unbeliever, why should you linger to come to Christ? Until you do, you do not have an advocate in heaven speaking to the Father on your behalf! Your own sins are testifying against you in this moment. You have a great adversary in Satan who seeks your demise and he continually seeks to blind you from the truth. He constantly seeks to accuse you before the Father. Will you be found guiltless when on the day of judgment you stand before Him?
Believer, why should we tarry when we are called to celebrate communion this morning? Why should we linger to partake in the bread and of the juice? These are beautiful reminders to us of Christ and what He has done for us. It is also a reminder of what He continues to do for us as He intercedes for us before the Father. He intercedes in words and through His actions on our behalf.
Finally, Believer, when that day comes when Jesus calls you into your eternal home you will not need to linger or hesitate because your sins have been forgiven and you have been cleansed. You do not need to worry and fret because you will soon stand in the presence of God in Christ’s righteousness. Jesus, who has been advocating for you during your worst moments here on earth will bring you to the Father in His own righteousness. What a hope we have in Jesus!
This morning I would like to consider the words, “...we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” However, I am going to do this in a unique way. Since today we are celebrating communion and because we are quickly approaching Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday I would like to discuss this passage in a way that will help us begin to contemplate this season.
In Exodus 19 we read of the time when God had brought Israel out of Egypt and He had brought them to Mount Sinai where He would give them the Law through Moses. In Exodus 19:4 the LORD says to Moses, “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles wings’ and brought you to myself.”
God delivered Israel out of captivity in Egypt, not simply to give them land, but so that He could bring them to Himself. Of this portion of scripture Matthew Henry says, “This God aims at in all the gracious methods of His providence and grace, to bring us back to Himself, from whom we have revolted, and to bring us home to Himself, in whom alone we can be happy.”
However, we quickly see that the Law could not be the final means through which this restoration of relationship would happen. In Exodus 19:14-25we read,
So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people; and they washed their garments. And he said to the people, “Be ready for the third day; do not go near a woman.”
On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. The Lord came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.
And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to the Lord to look and many of them perish. Also let the priests who come near to the Lord consecrate themselves, lest the Lord break out against them.” And Moses said to the Lord, “The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai, for you yourself warned us, saying, ‘Set limits around the mountain and consecrate it.’” And the Lord said to him, “Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you. But do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to the Lord, lest he break out against them.” So Moses went down to the people and told them.
I would like you to observe that there are three parts to this text.
First, in verses14-15 the people are consecrated, their garments are washed, and they are made ready for the LORD to come down upon Mount Sinai. But they are not to approach the LORD upon the mountain. If any man or beast touches the mountain they are to be killed.
Secondly, in verses 16-20 we see what occurs when the LORD comes down upon the Mountain. There were thunders, lightenings, thick clouds, a trumpet blast, and all the camp trembled.
Thirdly, in verses 21-25 Moses is told to go back down and warn the people not to come up the mountain, lest the LORD should break forth against them and they should perish. When Moses goes down and does this he is to return with Aaron.
The people are consecrated and washed but they cannot approach God. The LORD comes and the people tremble and they are warned again that anyone who tries to approach will die. But Moses is commanded to bring with him Aaron.
Now let us consider a text in the New Testament and make some observations between these two passages. Let’s look at Mark 14:32-42,
And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
This is a familiar passage of scripture. Jesus has just celebrated the Passover with His disciples. Near the end of the meal Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper as a sacrament to be done by the church until He returns. Then they leave and Jesus leads His disciples up to the place where Judas will betray Him into the hands of His enemies.
When Jesus arrives at Gethsemane he tells eight of his disciples to sit while he prays. ButJesus takes Peter, James and John further. While they are going Jesus began to be greatly distressed and troubled. Jesus says to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” (34) Jesus walks a little farther and then He fell on the ground and prayed. Three times Jesus returns to His three disciples and He finds them sleeping. Finally, Jesus returns the third time and says to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.” (41-42)
We have looked at two texts and now let me make four observations.
First, in Exodus 19 the people trembled; but here it is Jesus who is greatly distressed and troubled. Jesus’ disciples slept while Jesus travailed. They slept as trouble approached.
Secondly, notice that in Exodus 19 Moses is commanded by the LORD to go to the people and remind them not to approach the LORD on Mount Sinai; in Mark 14Jesus brings His disciples with Him. He brings Peter, James and John even farther with Him. Jesus goes a little farther to pray.
In Exodus 19 the LORD Himself was concerned that the people would attempt to come up the mountain. But in Mark 14, on the night of Jesus’ betrayal and suffering, His disciples slept and eventually would all run away.
Thirdly, notice that in Exodus 19 any Israelite who touched the mountain was to be killed. If any were to break through and approach the LORD they would perish by the anger of the LORD. But in Mark 14 we see that ‘sinners’ approach Jesus and He is betrayed by the kiss of Judas, but they do not die. Shockingly, Jesus will be the one who will suffer and die for sinners. Jesus is the one who will receive the wrath of God for the sins of others.
Isaiah 53: 10-11, Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush Him; He has put Him to grief; when His soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see His offspring; He shall prolong His days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. Out of the anguish of His soul He shall see and be satisfied; by His knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.”
It is not the Law that advocates for you and I before the Father. For by the Law every mouth is silenced and held accountable before God. Romans 3:19-20, “Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human beings will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”
It is not Moses who pleads our case before the LORD. Jesus said in John 5:45, “Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope.”
1 John 2:1-2 clearly shows us that it is Jesus Christ who pleads and advocates for all who will come to Him in repentance and faith. We read, “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. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
As we celebrate Communion today let us remember that it is Christ, who on the night He was betrayed, was greatly distressed and troubled. It was Christ whose soul became very sorrowful even unto death. He prayed, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me.”
Yet, to uphold God’s justice and righteousness concerning our sin Jesus had to drink of this cup. In order for any of us to stand before the LORD we needed an advocate who was righteous and who would have paid our debt so that we could come near to Him through Christ.
There was that night when sinners came to Christ and laid hold of the Righteous One and no immediate harm came upon them. Instead, Jesus, the Righteous One, died for them. If any will come to Christ in repentance and faith they will be saved.
Hebrews 14:15-16, “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. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”