Over the course of my ministry career, there have been times when I have needed to testify in court in the midst of a difficult situation, domestic or otherwise. Almost always the judge looks at me with a sad face as if to say, “I’m so sorry you’ve gotten caught in the middle of this and are here today.”
But I’m sure the judge looks a bit less collegial and brotherly to the varied litigants. Going before a judge is a scary thing. And at times when sitting in court rooms, watching other cases adjudicated before mine was called forward, people would stand without official legal representation. And the judge would say something like, “Are you sure you do not want to seek legal counsel before proceeding?”
Imagine you are coming before the judge for a crime you have indeed committed. You know you are wrong and it grieves you greatly for doing the same thing that you’ve done before. Your genuine desire is to change, but the strength to do so is something that fails you at times. It is indeed a scary place to be.
But standing with you is legal representation, an advocate to plead with the judge on your behalf. But this is not just some lawyer you dug up out of the phone book or secured from seeing a cheesy ad on a late-night cable TV station. No, this is actually the son of the judge. And in fact, he found you first before you were even looking for such a representative or realized you had need of an advocate.
As the proceeding advances, the most incredible thing is that you realize that though you have incurred a debt and judgment due to your crime, the price of that has already been paid by your advocate out of his own resource account. You are free to go.
What would you do and how would you feel after that? Would you say to yourself, “Wow, this is a great bottomless pit of payment that enables me to commit any crimes I could ever imagine … So eat, drink and be merry!” Or would you be so profoundly grateful that you would want to speak the praises of this advocate and share the story with others around you (everyone) who is going to have to visit the same judge at some point.
I think you get the picture. Here is the Scripture …
I John 2:1-2 – 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. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
Another great scripture Randy, that I really ought to memorize again.
Another scripture points out that Jesus in addition to being our advocate before the Father, is the one who will judge everyone. Different translations seem in agreement on this.
KJV John 5:22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:
NAS John 5:22 “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son,
NET John 5:22 Furthermore, the Father does not judge anyone, but has assigned all judgment to the Son,
NIV John 5:22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son,
NLT John 5:22 In addition, the Father judges no one. Instead, he has given the Son absolute authority to judge,
And not only does Jesus “pay a penalty” for us he opens us up to be reconciled with God. Such a thing is great news, that God who created all things through Jesus Christ is willing to really make us in his image. He gives us the desire and the energy to accomplish his will.
God is going to accomplish great things and he wants to be active in his winning team. He provides the equipment, the training, the skills. The training regimen may be hard at times and will involve sacrificing our superflous interests in order for us to be performing at a top level. It will involve us listening to counsel and focusing on his will.
His word is a key to training. By it we learn. We also pray and ask him for help to know and do his will. We also put into practice what we learn and by it develop a better competence in doing right things over time. If the enemy throws something at us, we don’t abandon the program that our father set us on.
Paul used the example of sports players, like runners, and fighters. He used examples of soldiers and perhaps farmers. In every one of these analogies it becomes clear that we need endurance.
Because God has amazingly reached out to us, we as we are strengthened have something to share with others. We are partnering with him, and when we forget that we stumble.