Friday, December 20, 2013

Christ the Intercessor

"Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." -- Romans 8:34
    Christ's work as priest did not end with His death on the cross. For He also was raised from the dead, ascended into heaven, and is even now exercising a ministry of intercession with God the Father on our behalf. In this sense He is still actively fulfilling the role of a priest.
    When someone has offended someone else, there is a breach in the relationship. A third party is sometimes needed to bring the other two parties back together again. In other words, an intercessor is needed, someone who will intercede on behalf of the offending party.
    Unfortunately it is sometimes true that even committed Christians can "backslide" and fall into sin, and this will disrupt communion with God. It is at this point that Christ's work as an intercessor comes into play. Our text tells us that He is "at the right hand of God," and that He "maketh intercession for us."
    Christ is uniquely qualified to fill this role. Because He is human, He can sympathize with us, knowing firsthand the temptations we face. In Hebrews 2:17,18 we read, "Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted" ("succour" in an old-fashioned word with a British spelling that means "to go to the aid" of someone). At the same time because He is also God He is personally sinless, and therefore is in a position to intercede with God the Father on our behalf. Moreover, since He lives forever his ministry of intercession will never come to an end – it will last for as long as life continues here on this sin-cursed earth. "Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them" (Heb. 7:25).
    Christ's ministry of intercession has immense practical implications for us. First of all, it means that if we know Christ truly and are genuinely united to Him by faith we can rest securely in God's love. The apostle Paul asks an interesting rhetorical question: "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Rom. 8:31). He then proceeds to answer his own question: "Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is at the right hand of God . . ." (v. 34). Let our fiercest enemies say what they may; let even Satan himself bring accusation against us. It doesn't matter; for our salvation ultimately rests on what Christ has done, and is continuing to do for us. He died for our sins, He paid the penalty on the cross, and now He is in heaven making intercession for us. We are forever secure in God's love.
    Moreover Christ's ministry of intercession should make us bold in prayer. Heb. 4:15 says, "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." What, then, is the practical implication of this? "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace in time of need" (v. 16). We are oft beset with trials and temptations. Difficulties lie on every hand. We are weak and prone to failure. But help is available if only we ask for it. We have an open invitation from God to go to Him in prayer and ask for the help we need. And we can do this because Christ, who can sympathize with our weakness, is there in heaven making intercession for us.
    None of this means, of course, that we have a license to sin. Sin will come between us and God, and needs to be dealt with. "If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth" (I John 1:6). But "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (v. 9). And this is possible because "if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (2:1). What more could we ask for in the way of an attorney?
            "Hark the herald angels sing,
                'Glory to the newborn King;
             Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
                 God and sinners reconciled!'"
  • Charles Wesley

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