Christ is the person of God who intercedes for believers (and for those who will become believers) before the Father in heaven. Here, in ten points, is a picture of His intercession.
1. He is our High Priest. God the Father appointed His Son as our High Priest. As our High Priest His job now is to serve us and to be our representative before God the Father (Heb. 5:1). Though He sits on the right hand of the Father in heaven (Heb. 8:1), He understands us and our weaknesses because He lived on this earth, had a body like ours, and was tempted like we are, yet without sin. Hence, He is fully qualified to help us in all our weaknesses and temptations (Heb. 2:17-18; 4:15).
2. He is our mediator. As our mediator He has positioned Himself between God and us, and He pleads with God on our behalf. Hence, He stands in the gap for us and makes himself responsible for us.
3. He is also called our advocate. An advocate is one who is called to one’s side, to one’s aid. This word advocate, parakletos, is used in a court of justice to denote a legal assistant, or a lawyer. Generally he is one who pleads another’s cause. In the widest sense, an advocate is a comforter. Some lawyers may be very good at pleading ones case, but they may not be very capable of comforting their clients. Christ as our advocate is a good comforter.
4. His intercession is constant and continual. He has always been in the service of men. As William Barclay has said, “On earth He served men and gave His life for them; in heaven He still exists to make intercession for them. He is the priest forever, the one who is for ever opening the door to the friendship of God and is for ever the great servant of mankind.”
Wesley Duewel points out in his book, Mighty Prevailing Prayer, “There are indications in scripture that… Christ has had an intercessory role from the time of Adam and Eve till today.” Duewel states, “We know that Jesus accompanied Israel throughout their desert wonderings (Ex. 14:19; 33:14; Is. 13:9; 1 Cor. 10:4)… if Jehovah-Jesus in His preincarnate form constantly accompanied Israel, sharing their sorrows, undoubtedly He interceded for them constantly, adding His intercession and amen for example to the intercession of Moses (Ex. 32) and the prophets (Is. 62).”
5. His intercession saves us completely. In His role as our High Priest He works continuously to bring us to a completed redemption. Even before we were saved He was praying for us; and He continues to intercede for us until we are like Christ. He does it for each and every person that is elected by God to salvation. Hebrews 7:24-25 says that because He lives forever He has a permanent priesthood; therefore, He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him.
6. His intercession is not a sacrificial offering. His intercession to the Father is not work in the sense of a sacrificial offering, as to appease God in His wrath. As Newell has stated, “Our blessed Lord Jesus Christ has forever met all Divine claims against sinners.” His death and shedding of blood has saved us in the past, present, and future. His work of Salvation was completed on the cross. Christ does not need to die any more for sin, nor does he need to suffer in any sense as to appease God’s wrath. Sin has been completely taken care of on the cross, for all times, in that He died “once for all” (Heb. 7:27; 9:12, 25-28; 10:14). So if you picture Christ in heaven sweating it out on His knees before God in order to keep us saved that is a wrong picture of what He is doing!
What is He doing then? The following three more points will help explain what He does for us as our intercessor.
7. He continually testifies to the Father that He died in our place and paid the penalty for our sin. He is our advocate and the propitiation for our sins (1 Jn. 2:1-2). As our advocate He pleads our case with the Father, and also comforts us. The case He brings to the father is based on the fact of His propitiation—that He died for our sins and brought us into fellowship with God through His blood. And so in the court room in heaven, He simply points to the cross and testifies to the Father (who is also our Judge) that He died in our place. He also, all the while, comforts us, assuring us that our case is won and that our sins are forgiven. He does this by His Spirit that is in us.
8. He loves us and cares for us. He sits now at the right hand of the Father, not to judge us or to condemn us, but to love us and to care for us. Nothing will separate us from His love (Rom. 8:34-35). In His daily prayers for us He bears our burdens (Ps. 68:19); and even when we are old and gray He will still carry us along and deliver us out of trouble (Is. 46:4). He accomplishes all this through His continual work of intercession.
9. He prays for us. There are many things Jesus is asking the Father to do for us. I’m sure the list is long. However, I want to take a look at what Jesus prayed for Simon Peter in Luke 22:31-32, and also what He prayed for His disciples and for the church (for all of us who are believers), recorded in John 17. Both of these passages, according to F.F. Bruce, are “…illustrative of Christ’s intercessory work for believers, a work which is doubtless still being performed for them in heaven.”
Luke 22:31-32. In these verses, Jesus said, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Here we see that Satan requested of God that he put Peter to the test. It is the same as when Satan asked for Job (Job 1:6-12, 2:1-6). In both cases, God gave Satan permission to sift them as wheat.
But in verse 32 we see that Jesus also requested something of God. He requested that Peter’s faith would not fail. In this verse the Greek word for “prayed for you,” or “requested of God for you,” according to G. Campbell Morgan, is “…a word that has as its root a thought of binding; and I have asked for you, committing myself for you as your Bondsman, your Surety.”
And so Jesus committed Himself as a slave to intercede for Peter all during the time that Satan was sifting him so that his faith would not fail. According to Morgan, though his hope and courage failed, his faith never failed. I believe Jesus is still praying for us that our faith will not fail. I am continually amazed that God has kept my faith alive. I owe it all to the intercession of Christ.
John 17. In this chapter there are five things that Jesus prayed for His disciples and for the church: (1) that they would be unified spiritually with each other and with God (v. 11, 20-23); (2) that they would be kept from the evil one (v. 15); (3) that they would be sanctified in the truth, or in the word which was true (v. 14); (4) that they would soon be with Him to behold His glory (v. 24); and (5) that they might share the Father’s love (vv. 25,26).
Like we mentioned earlier, Jesus is still praying these things for us now. I’m sure He talks to the Father about everything in our lives. Andrew Murray has said, “[His intercession] engages all His time and all his power.”
10. He leads us in our intercession. As the head of the church (which is His body), He leads us in our intercession and brings us into His intercession.
Moreover, as we grow in prayer under His leadership we will soon discover that the prayers we pray are not just coming from our own heart, but from His heart. That is because as we abide in Him we share His life and also His prayers.
When He is burdened in prayer for a thing or a person, we catch that same burden, because we are united with Him and feel His heartbeat. Hence, those who abide in Him are truly partners with Him in His intercession.
As His partner, we partake of the benefits of His intercessory work. In fact, in our prevailing with Him we rule with Him and extend His rule. What a glorious life we choose when we decide to abide in Him and in prayer with Him.