Easter 2 – "We Have An Advocate With the Father" – 1 John 2:1-2 – 4/12/15

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“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.”

An ‘advocate’ is someone who pleads for someone else; sometimes to a judge and jury; sometimes to lawmakers; sometimes to the public.

You name the cause and there’s an advocate pleading someone’s case.
• There are ‘advocates’ for the natural gas industry and advocates for those opposed to natural gas.
• There are ‘advocates’ for the illiterate, for the visually impaired, for ‘endangered species.’
• There are gun-control advocates, health care advocates, gay rights advocates, same-sex marriage advocates, human rights, men’s rights, women’s rights and animal rights advocates.

What parent hasn’t ‘advocated’ for their children if they needed some special help at school?

We swim in sea of ‘advocates.’

I was pleased to see that our Synod is opening an office in Washington, D.C. that will ‘plead the cause’ of “life,” “marriage,” and “religious freedom.” They will plead the cause of all people who stand to suffer from the rapid degradation of our society and culture that seems hell-bent on rejecting both God’s Word and common sense.

• We need ‘advocates’ to ‘plead our cause’ in ways that we are not capable for doing.
• We need someone who understands how the system works, who can plead our cause at the highest levels where we have no access.

“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.”

Judy Clarke has advocated for some very bad people. She has represented
• Eric Rudolph, the Olympic Park bomber;
• Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber;
• Jared Loughner, the man who shot Representative Gabriel Giffords and killed six others;
• Susan Smith, who murdered her 3 year old and 14 month old sons;
• Zacarias Moussaoui, the al-Qaeda operative accused of helping to plan the September 11 attacks;
• and most recently, Dzhokar Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon bomber.

The common thread that runs through all of these cases is that they all GUILTY of DELIBERATELY taking the lives other people. Their GUILT is not in question.

Judy Clarke is an advocate for the ‘guilty.’
• She does not try to convince anyone that her clients are innocent.
• She doesn’t say that her clients ‘have not sinned.’
• Her opening and closing statements to the jury typically begin with, ‘my client is guilty.’

Her goal in every case are to ensure that her client receives a fair trial according to the laws of our land, and that they not receive the death penalty for their crime, which is due to her own personal opinion of the death penalty and not her love for her client.

We may ask, ‘how does she do it?’ ‘How does she ‘plead the cause’ of the guilty?’ ‘How can anyone bring themselves to advocate for the guilty?’

And it’s right at this point that Judy Clarke and the Synod’s D.C. office and all of the various advocacy groups that we have named, have done all that they can do to lead us into our text for this morning.

“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.”

Or as we just sang,
“Before the throne of God above
I have a strong, a perfect plea:
A great High Priest, whose name is Love,
Who ever lives and pleads for me.” (LSB #574:1)

If ever there was a need for an ‘advocate,’ it is here. Man needs an ‘advocate’ to plead our case before God, because God holds our life in His hands. Our fate depends entirely upon His judgment. Whether we live or whether we die is His and His alone to decide.

• And He is a ‘jealous God.’ And we have flirted with other gods, and HE KNOWS IT.
• And He is a ‘just God.’ And we have broken His laws and disobeyed His commands, AND HE SEES IT.
• And He is a ‘loving God.’ And we have spurned His love, and HE FEELS IT.

How shall we approach Him?
How shall we come before the throne of God and plead our cause?
Who can ascend into heaven to stand before the Holy, Holy, Holy God?

And what would we plead even if we could ascend into heaven and get an appointment with the God of the Universe?
• Would we plead that He is being unfair – “I’m only human. You’re being too harsh.” “You made me like this.”
• Would we plead that it is not all our fault – “Why did YOU let this happen?” “Where were YOU?”
• Would we plead that if He ‘really loved us,’ He would give us what we ask for because after all, who knows better what I need than me?
• Would we plead that His jealousy is unbecoming of a decent God and He needs to be more OPEN and TOLERANT?

Talk about making a bad situation so much worse:
• We should thank God that He has forbid us to come before His throne to plead our case.
• We should thank God that “no one has ascended into heaven except the who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.” (John 3:13)
• We should thank God that “no one comes to the Father except through Jesus,” because He and He alone is the RIGHTEOUS ONE.

“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.”

Every human example of advocacy falls short of the advocacy that we have before God the Father in God the Son.

To begin with, it is not we who choose Jesus to be our advocate and plead our cause before the Father, but the Father who His Son with the Holy Spirit to be our advocate. He knows our fallen nature and that we cannot represent ourselves before Him either fairly or for our own good.

We need a “righteous” advocate,
• who knows the Father AND who knows us;
• who loves the Father AND who loves us;
• who serves the Father AND who serves us.
And we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
And just what is Jesus’ “perfect plea” before the Father on our behalf? It is this: “Father, he is guilty.” “Father, she is guilty.” He does not plead our innocence for there would be nothing ‘righteous’ in that. “Father, he has sinned against you in thought, word and deed.” “Father, she has sinned against you in what she has done and in what she has left undone.”

Which may not sound like the kind of plea that we hoped to hear from our Advocate, until we hear Him say,
• “But Father, I have atoned for their sin.
• I have taken their all of their guilt upon myself and suffered the death penalty for them, in their place, as their substitute.
• And all of their sin is covered in My blood.
• And all of their guilt is paid in full by My cross.”
• And I have done all that You sent me into the world to do.

If we have the picture in our mind of the Father who is hell-bent to condemn us, and of the Son who is desperately trying to convince His Father to put aside His anger and change His mind and settle down, we’ve got the picture all wrong.

“For God so loved the world, THAT HE SENT HIS SON, that whosoever believes in Him SHOULD NOT PERISH BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE.” (John 3:16).

• It is not the Son who offers Himself to the Father as a gift to appease the Father’s anger with us for our sin,
• but it is the Father who offers up His Son to Himself – so that His JUSTICE is perfectly fulfilled and His LOVE for you triumphs over your sin.

“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.” (Romans 8:34)

Jesus interceded for ‘guilty sinners’ in His earthly ministry when He promised to pray for Peter, that his faith would not fail, and for His apostles, not that the Father would not take them out of this world, but that He would protect them from evil. (John 17:15).

• And now His intercession for guilty sinners has been perfected by His perfect sacrifice on our behalf.
• And the Father has declared that He has completely accepted His Son’s ‘perfect plea’ on our behalf by raising Him from the dead.

“He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”

“Propitiation” is one of those million dollar words that we may not be too familiar with. We are used to saying that Jesus has TAKEN AWAY OUR SINS by His atoning sacrifice on the cross and that God’s divine justice for our sin was carried out on Him.

But as we know from our own experience, just because justice has been done to the guilty one, it doesn’t mean that the one who was hurt and sinned-against is ready to say, ‘I love you,’ or ‘with you I am well-pleased.”

“Propitiation” means that not only was justice carried out completely, but that the Father is completely reconciled to His whole creation. And the relationship that we, by our sin broke, has been PERFECTLY restored and He is delighted to call you “MY CHILD,” “with whom I am well-pleased.”

“… and not only for ours, but for the sins of the WHOLE WORLD.” Which his how you can be certain that Jesus Christ is the propitiation FOR YOU.

Can we begin to understand now why we do not want to plead our case before God by saying that “we have no sin”?

That’s the plea of a society and culture that has an advocate for everything under the sun, but doesn’t know that ‘we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.’ If you don’t believe or won’t believe that you have One who “is the propitiation for the sins of the world,” then the best you can do is “say that we have not sinned.”

But if you do believe that “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous,” then the highest form of worship there is, “to confess our sins,” trusting “that God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse of from all unrighteousness.”

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