Christ our Intercessor
I grew up listening to the Eagles, Boston, Chicago, Rolling Stones, James Taylor, Simon and Garfunkel, and the Beatles. And whenever I think about the Beatles, I feel a little sad for the forgotten Beatle. Everyone knows John Lennon and Paul McCartney. We debate about which one of these two was more essential to the Beatles. Most know Ringo Starr, largely because he is such an unique individual. But who is the fourth Beatle? Most people in America probably couldn't name him. They could name Lennon, McCartney, maybe Ringo Starr, but George Harrison is often forgotten. But he was an essential part of the Beatles. Now, if you’ll bear with me in what may seem to be an unholy transition—Christ's Intercession is sort of like the George Harrison of Christ's work in our salvation. It is so often the forgotten part of His redemptive work. We rightfully focus upon the incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. We know the important role that each of these play in the accomplishment of our salvation, but what about Christ's work as our intercessor? We are robbing ourselves of much of the Christian life and faith when we do not give Christ's intercession the attention it is due. There is much encouragement and comfort in understanding that Christ is our High Priest, who lives to make intercession.
We are told in Hebrews 7:25 that, "He [i.e. Jesus] always lives to make intercession for them [i.e. believers]." What is it that Christ does as our intercessor? Interceding has the idea of fervent prayer for someone. He first accomplishes this as our Surety before the face of God. He stands as our guarantor before the throne of God the Father. In Hebrew 9, we are told, "For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf." Even as He rightfully stands before the throne of God, so we have a right standing in the presence of God. His glorified body in the presence of God is a living prayer for all of eternity that our salvation has been accomplished.
Christ in His intercession also serves as our advocate. He answers all the charges brought against His people. Sin and Satan may accuse us before God, and our consciences may accuse us to ourselves; but Christ by His intercession answers all these charges. Romans 8:33-34 makes this clear when it asks, "Who can bring a charge against God's elect?" The answer is none, for we have one who ever lives to make intercession for us. His intercession calls for forgiveness for those He purchased forever. And note that He is an advocate not an orator; an orator uses rhetoric and flowery words to persuade the judge to show mercy to another; but an advocate tells the judge what is law. Christ, our wounded Savior can say, "No one and nothing can bring a charge against these that are mine. The Law has been fulfilled."
Christ as our intercessor also purifies or sanctifies our works and prayers. I can remember thinking as a young Christian, "how can my works ever be pleasing to God?" I thought, "Why pray?" I knew my motives were usually tainted. I was wrestling with this and took these questions to a mentor-pastor who said to me, "Jason, don't you know? You have a High Priest in Christ Jesus, who sanctifies them." Peter made this very point when he wrote, "you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 2:5). Our offerings are made through Christ. And Christ by His intercession sanctifies them, cleanses them, and offers them to the Father on our behalf. In this glorious way, they are made acceptable and pleasing to the Father.
Christ as our intercessor also specifically prays for us. We see this clearly in John 17, what has been called Jesus' high priestly prayer. He utters in this prayer, "I am praying for them." Who is the them? Is it just the twelve Apostles? No, He says, "I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word." That's us. He is praying for each of us, those who have believed through their words. And His prayer isn't just general prayer. He is praying specifically for each of us. We have a clear example of this when Christ says to Peter, "Simon, Simon, behold Satan demanded to have you that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail" (Luke 22). He knew his temptation and He knew what He was about to go through, so He prayed specifically for Him.
James tell us that “the prayers of a righteous man avail much” (James 5:16). And we have the perfectly righteous man—the man of all righteousness—praying specifically for us. He is our Intercessor. He ever lives to intercede for us. There is much comfort and encouragement for the struggling pilgrim when this truth is understood.