“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.” 1 John 2:1
Everyone wants justice. The reality is, though, we want justice for other people and mercy for ourselves. We want “an eye for an eye” when we are wronged or when someone does something we deem horrible, but when it comes to our own actions we want mercy. We are an advocate against those we deem as ‘wrong’, and we defend ourselves with hollow pleas for understanding, excuses, or diagnoses.
1 John 2:1—and the Bible as a whole—make two things very clear. First, God is completely righteous, holy, and “right” in his character and actions (Isaiah 6). Second, all mankind are sinners (Romans 3). Because God is righteous and just, he rightly has to punish sin or else there would be no justice. Mankind’s sin is either dealt with at the cross or in hell.
But this is why the gospel of grace is so radical. At the cross, Jesus took the punishment that we deserved—the righteous for the unrighteous. He took our punishment so that we could receive mercy. The result is that we receive what we don’t deserve!
As if to show an even greater dimension of grace, John points out Jesus’ role as our advocate before the Father. Jesus’ work wasn’t done on the cross. He’s not on a well-deserved vacation in heaven. He continues to plead our case. “They are mine!” he says. “They are covered by my blood and so justice has been done!”
Jesus defends those he died for, those who were his enemies. What a Savior that would pay for my crimes and, at the next turn, defend me as innocent! What accusation could stand up to that defense (Zechariah 3)? None! That is why there is no more condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8). What act could you do to make the Father love you any less? None! That is why there is nothing that could separate us from the love of God (Romans 8).
When the Puritan Thomas Hooker was dying, his friends tried to comfort him on his death bed, saying, “Be of good cheer, Thomas, you are going to receive your reward.”
His response? “No. Brother, I’m going to receive mercy”.
Christian, your Savior is also your advocate, and because of that, there is justice for your sin and mercy for you.