[serialposts]Read 1 John 2:1-6 (ESV, NIV, The Message).
One of the things I’ve noticed since moving to Florida has been the sheer number of TV commercials for lawyers. I know that they run them everywhere, but it seriously seems like I’m hearing things like, “Don’t settle for less than you deserve,” or “We put families first,” or “For the people” more often than usual.
Now I understand that lawyers often take the brunt of people’s jokes, and we all join in the fun until we need one. But this post isn’t about lawyers…or is it?
John continues his letter in 1 John 2:1 by saying, “I am writing this to you so that you will not sin.” Now before we freak out at this impossible task, we have to remember that this verse simply builds on what was said earlier in chapter 1 by reminding us that to say we have no sin is a sin itself…so don’t sin by saying that you’re without sin.
But it’s what he says as he continues in verse 1 that makes me think Jesus is “For the people” more than any lawyer could ever be. “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.” Jesus is our defense attorney who represents us before the Father (the Judge) in heaven.
And it’s more than that. Jesus not only pleads our case before God; but knowing that the verdict will be “guilty,” he says to the Judge, “Let me take the punishment that my client deserves.” And verse 2 implies that God accepts Jesus’ plea bargain. “He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins – and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.”
It reminds me of a praise song that I love. As the song builds, it says, “Justice and mercy meet on the cross.” Those words remind me that a tool used for torture and death (the cross), and the punishment that I deserve (God’s justice), is also the same place where I receive God’s mercy (forgiveness that I do not deserve). Thanks be to our advocate, Jesus Christ!
But the question John poses to the original hearers and then us is, “How am I to live in response to this love?” And verses 3-6 take us through a proper response.
It boils down to love…to say we truly love God means that we love Christ, that we love God’s commands, and that we love to live in obedience to them. A claim to love, but a failure to live it, makes us liars. Verse 5 says, “But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him.”
And in reality, isn’t that the way it should be? If we think through the law analogy a bit more, if the result of our crime is time in jail, by the time we are paroled or finish out our sentence, the desire is that we would enter back into society as reformed citizens. People who are sorry for the wrongs done, who have been changed, and who wish to live in obedience to the law. That is how we know a person has truly been changed.
The same goes for those who have faith in Christ. If we believe that our defense attorney took our punishment, our response should be to live in thanks, in love, and in obedience to the one who pleads our case.
So the next time you see a commercial for a lawyer, take a moment to remember our Advocate, and give thanks that He is “for the people” more than anyone else could ever be.