Jesus: The Advocate

This Friend of sinners pleads our case before God.

by Tami Rudkin

But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1, NRSV).

I was a new teacher — excited, naive — and low woman on the totem pole. I taught in a history department with ten other men and women. For as long as I can remember, I had wanted to be a teacher; my dream had finally come true.

Consequently, I didn’t complain much that first year-and-a-half that my assigned classes were sometimes double the size of the veteran teacher’s across the hall or that I had four lesson preparations instead of the usual three. And, because of the lack of classroom space, I traveled every period to a different floor, to a different classroom, with my overhead projector, brief case, and stacks of graded papers in tow.

Defense

At first, my energies were unlimited, and I loved teaching; but in the third year my responsibilities started to take a toll. I’m not sure anyone thought twice about my situation; it worked for them. Except for one woman — Jeanne. She was my friend. We shared similar spiritual convictions, and we both taught because we loved kids. I must have begun to wear the disposition of the weary. I probably complained to her as we ate our lunch each day. I don’t really remember. It seems so long ago.

But one image is forever seared in my mind: the time Jeanne sat before the members of our department and spoke in my defense. It was after school. We sat uncomfortably squished into desks intended for the slight-bodied teenagers of our classes, discussing scheduling for the upcoming school year.

The schedules were tentatively outlined, and mine still looked overwhelming. My friend looked at that schedule, looked at me, and requested to speak. I can’t recall her exact words, but she diplomatically called to their attention the unfairness of the schedule each of us held in our hands. She grew a little red around the neckline, but her voice never wavered. Her petition was heard. Some classes were erased and others penciled in. For the first time since I had begun teaching, I had a reasonable schedule.

Finally, I was freed enough to truly enjoy the tasks of teaching kids. Amazingly, I felt on equal terms with my fellow teachers. Most important, I realized that friends go to bat for their friends in uncomfortable situations. Jeanne had nothing to gain from my schedule change; in fact, chances were it could cause her more work. But she cared about me. She became an advocate for me — someone who argued my case, someone who came alongside me, someone who thought of my good.

Humility and resolve

Have you ever had anyone come to your side in a sticky situation? Someone to champion your cause? Someone to speak for you when words could not be formed in your heart, let alone be spoken? Do you remember how it felt to have someone assert your strengths, your virtue, your worthiness? Did you get a big head, walk with a bit more swagger, pat yourself on the back?

Not me. I experienced a sobering humility and a most profound resolve to be worthy of such approval. What I had done to deserve such a friend?

I had done nothing. Jeanne had simply cared about me and had come to my defense when I was incapable of doing it myself. In all my lifetime, I can only recall a few such scenes.

Divine friendship

However, I am reminded of Another who has come alongside me, to present my case.

He knows my unworthiness; I have done nothing to deserve pardon.

My piety is puny, my heart is impure, and my will is pitiful.

But I seek to know Him, to understand His heart, to live His love, to taste His redemption.

Jesus has become my friend.

Payment for debt

Jesus has become my advocate, my go-between, my champion before the holy and awesome God. I dare not stand before Him, His righteousness is so condemning. I dare not bow before Him, His holiness so great. I dare not confess before Him, His questions so revealing. The debts I owed had been penciled in.

But with conviction, Jesus steps between God and me and pleads my case. He reminds the One who will judge that by His blood, payment for my debt has been reconsidered and rewritten. With humble confidence, I can now enter the holiness in which the Almighty reigns.

Ten years ago, as a teacher worn and weary, my eyes filled with tears in appreciation for Jeanne’s support of me. Today my heart weeps in immense gratitude for Jesus, my Advocate, pleading a case humanly impossible to win.