VIII. The Glorified Christ in the Letters of John
44. An Advocate with the father
" My children, these things I write to you in order that you may not sin; and if any one sin, we have a patron with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;" (1 John 2:1).
John also allows us a glimpse of the glorified Christ in his letters.
We have already seen from the passages in the Epistle to the Hebrews that Christ is active for us as a glorified man in heaven, namely as a faithful high priest who after having brought about atonement once and for all, is in God's presence and represents us before God. John speaks here of another ministry that Christ holds as a glorified person in heaven, namely that of the trustee or intercessor: He takes our case into His hands and intercedes for us.
The phrase "if anyone has sinned" makes the situation clear as to what is at stake. When a believer falls into sin, he immediately senses that he no longer enjoys his fellowship with the Father and the Son undisturbed. At that moment he lacks "complete joy" (1 John 1:4). It is a situation that should not happen at all. John had just said before: "My children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin". So also Paul in the Epistle to the Romans: For a Christian need not sin, he shall not sin, and he shall not sin, neither shall he, nor will he (Rom 6:18.104.22.168.18.19). This also explains the expression: If "someone" has sinned. He is considered an exceptional case. But in view of the fact that it can happen (and unfortunately happens far too often), the view of the advocate in heaven is a great comfort.
It touches us that God has made provision for this case. We are particularly impressed by the following points:
- It does not say - as one would have expected: then "he" (the believer who has fallen into sin) has an advocate, but the text says: "We have". John had just addressed them with the expression "My children", i.e. he is addressing the whole family of God. The "we have" expresses a privilege that every believer has.
- The advocate is none other than "Jesus Christ the Righteous": he is perfectly suited to appear for us in the presence of God.
- The possession of this Advocate is not subject to any one condition, such as acknowledging the sin committed, confession, penance, etc. It is an established fact. Of course, insight and confession are necessary for restoration, but the Advocate's possession and activity are not made dependent on them.
It is not a matter of trivializing or excusing sin. The purpose of these teachings is precisely "lest you sin" (v.1). But what consolation that provision has been made for this case, and in such a perfect person!
45. Behold him as he is
"See what love the Father has given to us, that we should be called the children of God. For this reason the world knows us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we children of God, and what we will be has not yet been manifested; we know that if it is manifested we will be like him, for we will see him as he is" (1 John 3:1.2).
Once again, John draws our attention to the glorified Christ - at this point in connection with the particular theme that concerns him, the love of the Father, which is already with us.
First of all John speaks here of the present: "See what love the Father has given us that we should be called children of God! And we are" (verse 1). He shows us the greatness and especially the nature of his love. It has already become effective on us. Already today we are called and are children of God. But the world still knows nothing about it. It sees nothing special in us.
We know that this will change (the world doesn't know this - it doesn't suspect anything about the future that lies ahead of us). When it is revealed (and this is when He is revealed, see the remarks on Col 3:4), then we will see Him as He is. Whether we go through death or experience the Rapture, we will see Him. Before that we will receive a glorious body!
In one sense the whole world will see Him, and that is when He appears in power and glory: "When He comes to be glorified on that day" (2 Thes 1:10). But they will see Him in His official glory, in His majesty and power. The children of God will see much more of Him, "as He is", - in His personal glory.
So in this verse as well (with the eyes of faith) we look up to heaven, see the glorified Christ there and say: We will see Him once - correctly, unhindered - as He is! - And we will be like Him. We will then also have no more sin. Today we are already freed from the power of sin - then we will be freed from sin itself.
He will still take first place and have glories that belong only to Him (and we rejoice in that), but we will still be like Him. How great the love of the Father must be to make this true in us!
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