Odd Moments of Defenselessness
I sat in a chair across from a foreign bureau official. I was there to plead my case and clarify a misunderstanding with my work-permit application. I was there to emphasize the need for my work-permit documents to be received and processed accordingly. If unsuccessful, my family and I would be required to leave the country we now call home. So, what did I say to convey my thoughts and plead my case?
I sat in the chair and said nothing. I couldn’t, I didn’t know how. Instead, I watched as my advocate spoke in the language I couldn’t. He spoke to the official for a few minutes about my case. I peered back and forth during the conversation hoping I could gather an inkling of how “we” were doing, wishing I knew more of the language. Then, the conversation ended as quickly as it began. We got up from our chairs without a word of translation or explanation from my advocate, though I sensed it didn’t go in my favor. There wasn’t an opportunity for me to ask follow up questions to the official, to seek clarification. We were done, and the next person shuffled into place to state their case.
Moments after the conversation ended, I sent my wife this message: “It’s an odd feeling to not be able to give a defense for myself. I am completely at the mercy of others speaking on my behalf. I’m sure there is some eternal truth packed into that, huh?”
One of the eternal truths packed in this scenario has its roots in the gospel. I am completely reliant on the mercy of Jesus’s work to speak on my behalf. I can’t earn or defend my way into right standing before God. What can I say to a holy God to plead my case? Nothing. I don’t know how. It’s like I don’t speak the language. Instead, I have to watch as my advocate speaks on my behalf.
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One (1 Jn 2:1).
Hebrews 4:14-16 describes that we can have confidence in Jesus’s position before the Father because he was tempted in every way that we are, yet he did not bow to sin as we often do. However, there is more to what makes Jesus our advocate. Not only did Jesus assert his victory over sin in the holy decisions he made, but in his perfection, he willingly became the substitute for our sin (2 Cor 5:21).
The amazing reality about Jesus’s position as advocate is that it’s not based on detached experience, like my advocate at the foreign bureau’s office. Yes, my advocate representing me before the bureau official cared about my case and he felt a burden to represent me accurately. But he was not willing or able to step into my place and take the consequences of the final decision. He could merely present the facts of my case. Jesus, on the other hand, is able to state the facts of my broken life before God and also able declare his willing substitution to acquit me of my sinful position before a holy God. This causes me to rejoice!
Odd moments of defenselessness are primers to remember and rejoice in the gospel. Great is the work of Jesus that provides the defense for eternal hope and salvation!