1 John 2:1-2, “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.”
The ascension of Christ in question 46 of the Heidelberg Catechism prompts the discussion on the hypostatic union in questions and answers 47-48. In question and answer 49, of the Heildberg the ascension of Jesus is again mentioned, outlining the benefits of the ascension of Christ to heaven after the resurrection. In turning now to 1 John 2:1, the Heilderberg Catechism teaches the ascension of Christ establishes Christ as the Advocate of the people of God. Now, in the ancient world, an advocate as much the same as a modern defense attorney who pleads a defendant’s case before a Judge. When the Apostle John calls Jesus “Advocate,” he means that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ stands before the Father to plead on behalf of His redeemed people.
The work of Jesus as Advocate goes beyond the defense of an earthly lawyer. Jesus’ case is grounded in His finished and sufficient work which secures God’s verdict of not guilty for God’s people (Romans 8:1-4). Those who are forgiven, are now in Christ. God is no longer the Judge who condemns His people, but the one who adopts them into His family. While we are guilty of sin and unable to meet the perfect, holy, and just demands of the Lord, the perfect righteousness of Jesus, imputed to God’s people in justification, sets them right with God. Matthew Henry explains, “The clients are guilty; their innocence and legal righteousness cannot be pleaded. It is the advocate’s own righteousness that he must plead for the criminals.”
The Lord no longer condemns Christians, since, Christ has forever satisfied the Father’s just demands. 1 John 2:2 describes the foundation for Jesus’ work as our Advocate. There He is the “propitiation” for the people of God, the one who endured the full-white hot fury of the wrath of God, that you and I deserve so that divine justice would be fulfilled. Christ is the propitiation for “the whole world,” in the sense Jesus redeemed not only Jews but all people from every corner, tribe, tongue, and people of every nation. The Father, to further expand on this point, accepts no atonement from anyone except that from God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. And this is why, Jesus is the world’s only hope, the only Savior, and the only way to be saved.
1 John 2:1, explains Jesus’ priestly work as Advocate, involves the ongoing sanctification of the people of God, as well as their once-for-all justification. Christians, when they first trust Jesus have the righteousness of God, imputed to them, giving them a righteous standing before God that cannot be lost (Romans 5:9; 8:30). While there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ, we have not yet, reached glorification, and therefore, we continue to sin until the day, we die, and are then clothed in white, completely and utterly like our Lord. And that means, while here on earth, Christians continually need the forgiveness Christ provides, to help them daily walk in holiness before the face of God. And as we repent of sin, Jesus advocates for His people before the Father, to restore our fellowship with God.
At this moment as you reading this article, Jesus is right now pleading with the Father on behalf of His people, interceding for them that they might be forgiven, purified, and strengthened in holiness. While every Christian, must work out our salvation in fear and trembling (Phil 2:12-13) and strive for holiness by the grace of God through the Holy Spirit, we can only do so, because of Jesus. Jesus prays for the people of God which guarantees that they will persevere. Of all, the truths, we could consider, even briefly that last sentence, should cause us to draw near to the throne of God, in worship of the Lord Jesus, who forgives our sin. Jesus alone gives us a new standing before Him and calls us now to carry forth the glad tidings, of good news in His name, for His glory.