Q: Why did God make snakes just before lawyers?
A: To practice.
All fooling aside, I have a new appreciation for the justice system these days. There, when a person is accused of a crime, it is required of the system (the court) that he/she have an advocate. The advocate’s sole responsibility is to look after the best interests of the accused.
Q: Why won’t sharks attack lawyers?
A: Professional courtesy.
It is not the advocate’s job to determine guilt or innocence; that’s for the judge and/or jury.
Q: What do you have when a lawyer is buried up to his neck in sand?
A: Not enough sand.
It is not the advocate’s job to be liked or appreciated.
Q: What’s the difference between a dead dog in the road and a dead lawyer in the road?
A: There are skid marks in front of the dog.
The one task – the one focus – of the advocate is to stand in the gap for the accused.
When popular culture collides with the legal system, advocates get a bum rap. These attorneys are portrayed as ruthless, win-at-all-cost scoundrels who will do anything to get the defendant off, guilty or not.
Q: Why is going to a meeting of the Bar Association like going into a bait shop?
A: Because of the abundance of suckers, leeches, insects, and nightcrawlers.
So why the appreciation for advocates? Because I know what it’s like to need and not have one. My guess is, you do too. Have you ever sat defenseless outside a closed door while somebody else made decisions affecting you?
For those who trust and follow Christ, however, the story doesn’t end there. Even when we have no advocate in the board room, the committee or wherever, we have an Advocate nonetheless. Check this out:
My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. 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. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world (1 John 2:1-2, NLT).
We DO have an advocate! And His name is Jesus.
The meaning of the word is literally “called alongside to help.” It’s used to describe the Holy Spirit in John 16, translated “Helper” or “Comforter.” It also suggests the idea of an intercessor who stands in the gap on someone else’s behalf.
“If anyone does sin…”
If I didn’t have any guilt, I wouldn’t need an intercessor. That’s what’s so wrong with self-righteousness. It leaves the self-righteous defending themselves.
“We have an advocate…”
The fact that I have an advocate the instant I sin, tells me that I have an immediate answer from God to represent me. For believers in Christ, there is never a time He is not our advocate. His atoning death on the cross has satisfied the offensiveness of my sin before God prior to my offense. He IS (present tense, continuous action) the atoning sacrifice for my sin. And since I do have an advocate, my righteousness or lack thereof is not the basis of my judgment – His righteousness is.
…also suggests that we have an accuser. Every sin, every transgression of a believer brings an accuser to blame us before God. Moreover, every person who postures himself as an accuser is in alignment with the uber-accuser. (That’s Satan, if you’re keeping score.) For me to judge the character of another believer on the basis of his or her performance is to ignore the effectiveness of Jesus’ death to atone for that person’s sin. If God says he or she is righteous, who am I to say otherwise?
As helpful and encouraging as it is to have other humans stand up for us, no human can do for us what Jesus does as our advocate. He is a righteous advocate. That means (praise God!) I don’t have to depend on my own righteousness in order to face God with my guilt. My defense is based on the merit of His atoning sacrifice for me. But because I am freely and completely forgiven, as a gift of God’s grace extended to me, I will have an aversion to sin because I will see it for the offense it is.
“Called alongside.” That’s my Advocate. And He is ready to rise in response to my call. OR maybe He is so aware of my need, that my sin calls Him out even before I can mouth the words. He is my “sin chaser.”
One Big Difference
There is one huge difference between this Advocate and a typical lawyer. Lawyers argue on the merits of the facts. Jesus “argues” on the merit of His act. And no accusation can pass that defense.
Like the courtroom advocate, Jesus bears one responsibility here – to stand between me (the guilty) and God (the judge). There is no distinction between misdemeanors and felonies. There is no “three strikes” rule. When He stops being righteous, I stop having an effective advocate. Until then, He rises in my defense – even when I’m guilty as hell.
And that’s no joke.