And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, [2:1b].
The Greek word translated Advocate, parakletos, usually meant an advocate in a court of law. Jesus uses this word to refer to both Himself and to the Holy Spirit in the Gospel of John: 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7. In these Gospel passages the translation “helper” is a better translation since the idea of a court isn’t present, but since the legal image is present in 1 John 2:1 “advocate” is the best translation.
Unlike earthly legal systems, money cannot purchase legal representation before God the Father, nor does wealth dictate the quality of legal representation – Jesus is the advocate of the poor and the rich. Unlike the legal systems of this world we do not pay Jesus to represent us, the reverse is true; Jesus Christ paid to represent us. Here is an advocate who so deeply desired to represent us that He gave His life, that He took our sin and lawlessness upon Himself; He not only intercedes for us (Hebrews 7:25), He has paid the price before the heavenly bar of justice for our criminal activity – He has satisfied the court by the Cross.
The basis of Jesus’ advocacy is the Cross with all that the Cross entails; Jesus Christ the righteous became sin for us in order that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus paid the price of His life to represent us; Jesus paid the price of bearing our sins to provide the court with total satisfaction that justice has been done in our case.
We can understand a lawyer desiring to represent a poor innocent man at his own expense, but here is a Man giving His life to represent the guilty; in the giving of His life the guilty are transformed into the innocent – it isn’t only as if this man or this woman or this child has sinned and the price has been paid for the sin, it goes far beyond that – reaching into the depths of the heavens - for justification means that when we come to trust in Jesus Christ that we stand before God in Christ as if we have never sinned and as people who have always kept the entire law of God.
Whether in role of advocate, as in 1 John 2:1, or in the role of helper as in the Gospel passages, Jesus and the Holy Spirit come to us, they come alongside us, and they come to live in us. They come to us, we do not come to them; and when we do come to them we come to them because we are drawn by the Father, otherwise we are incapable of movement toward God.
Do I appreciate the fact that today the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ are my Helper and Advocate? Do I consider that they have come to me, are coming to me, and will come to me? They come because they love, they come to the guilty to make them righteous – how can this be? How can they love the guilty? How foreign this love is to me! How little I know of the love of God! What a fool I am in my judgments of others, my attitudes toward others – am I an advocate in prayer and in life for the guilty? Am I willing to lay my life down not only for the innocent but also for the guilty? How little I have learned. How vast the love of God (Ephesians 3:14-21); how small my love for others. Thank God that Jesus Christ is our Helper and Advocate, the Author and Finisher of our faith.