Merry Christmas from SweetMercies!


Jesus Christ is the Alpha and Omega of the Bible. He is the constant theme of its sacred pages; from first to last they testify of him. At the creation we at once discern him as one of the sacred Trinity; we catch a glimpse of him in the promise of the woman’s seed; we see him typified in the ark of Noah; we walk with Abraham, as he sees Messiah’s day; we dwell in the tents of Isaac and Jacob, feeding upon the gracious promise; we hear the venerable Israel talking of Shiloh; and in the numerous types of the law, we find the Redeemer abundantly foreshadowed. Prophets and kings, priests and preachers, all look one way—they all stand as the cherubs did over the ark, desiring to look within, and to read the mystery of God’s great propitiation. 

Still more manifestly in the New Testament we find our Lord the one pervading subject. It is not an ingot here and there, or dust of gold thinly scattered, but here you stand upon a solid floor of gold; for the whole substance of the New Testament is Jesus crucified, and even its closing sentence is bejeweled with the Redeemer’s name. We should always read Scripture in this light; we should consider the word to be as a mirror into which Christ looks down from heaven; and then we, looking into it, see his face reflected as in a glass—darkly, it is true, but still in such a way as to be a blessed preparation for seeing him as we shall see him face to face. This volume contains Jesus Christ’s letters to us, perfumed by his love. These pages are the garments of our King, and they all smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia. Scripture is the royal chariot in which Jesus rides, and it is paved with love for the daughters of Jerusalem. The Scriptures are the swaddling bands of the holy child Jesus; unroll them and you find your Savior. The quintessence of the word of God is Christ. – C.H. Spurgeon

What does it mean for Jesus to be the alpha and the omega? When we see him as "alpha," we see him as God. We understand who we are in the light of knowing that we are beings created by and for God. When we see him as "omega," we cease to use Jesus as a means to a greater end. Instead, Jesus himself becomes our greatest end. 

Tim Keller

Alpha & Omega

“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” —Revelation 22:12-13


“It is the cross of Christ that brings us all down to the same place. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. The differences between nations, and groups within them, and individuals, are nothing, when you look at the cross of Christ. We are all miserable, helpless, hopeless sinners. There is nothing in which we can boast…
Once you really see this message of the cross, you see yourself groveling on the dust and the floor, a miserable failure, a hopeless sinner. You can do nothing, neither can your neighbor, you are together in your complete helplessness and hopelessness. But thank God it does not leave you there. You both look up together into the face of the one and only Savior, the Savior of the world, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.”

–Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Cross

What a Savior/Laura Story

Atoning sacrifice
Keeper of this life
Hallelujah You are savior
Beginning and the end
Forgiver of my sin
By Your mercy You have saved us
Jesus You are stronger
More than any other
Hallelujah what a savior
Jesus You are higher
My soul's deepest desire
Hallelujah what a savior
You are the shepherd king
You lead us by still waters
Hallelujah You are savior
You are my only hope
Your kindness is my friend
In Your presence You restore us
You are the way the truth and the life
You are my joy and salvation

Stood in my place taking my shame


And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” —Luke 2:8-14

But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” —Acts 5:29-32

So Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said: “Men of Israel and you who fear God, listen. The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it. And for about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness. And after destroying seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance. All this took about 450 years. And after that he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’ Of this man's offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised. —Acts 13:16-23

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. —Philippians 3:20-21

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. —Titus 2:11-14

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. —Titus 3:4-7

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. —1 John 4:13-14


Sinclair Ferguson/In Christ Alone:Living the Gospel-Centered Life

The message of the incarnate Christ is glorious indeed, but it must never be severed from the message of the indwelling Christ. He who came for us as a baby now dwells in us as the Lord of glory through His Spirit. That is His gift to us.

The indwelling Christ seeks one gift from you in return.


Underline this thought: assurance, peace, access to God, knowledge that He is our Father, and strength to overcome temptation all depend on this-the Son of God took our flesh and bore our sins in such a way that further sacrifice for sin is both unnecessary and unintelligible. Christ died our death, and now in His resurrection He continues to wear our nature forever, and in it He lives for us before the face of God. He could not do more for us than He has done; we need no other resources to enable us to walk through this world into the next.

You and I need a Savior who is near us, is one with us, understands us. All of this the Lord Jesus is, Hebrews affirms. Fix your gaze on this Christ and your whole Christian life will be transformed.

—Sinclair Ferguson,  In Christ Alone

Learn much of the Lord Jesus. For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ. He is altogether lovely. Such infinite majesty, and yet such meekness and grace, and all for sinners, even the chief! Live much in the smiles of God. Bask in his beams. Feel his all-seeing eye settled on you in love, and repose in his almighty arms. . . .Let your soul be filled with a heart-ravishing sense of the sweetness and excellency of Christ and all that is in Him. Let the Holy Spirit fill every chamber of your heart; and so there will be no room for folly, or the world, or Satan, or the flesh. 

—Robert Murray McCheyne


Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” —Matthew 16:16

And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” —Mark 8:29

Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” —Luke 9:20

And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” —Luke 2:26-32

And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ. —Luke 4:41

He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter). —John 1:41-42

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” —John 11:27


Some people appear to like to have a philanthropic love towards the fallen, but yet they would not touch them with a pair of tongs. They would lift them up if they could, but it must be by some machinery—some sort of contrivance by which they would not degrade themselves or contaminate their own hands. Not so the Savior. Up to the very elbow he seems to thrust that gracious arm of his into the mire, to pull up the lost one out of the horrible pit and out of the miry clay. 
—Charles Spurgeon

Jesus, Friend of Sinners/Casting Crowns
Jesus, Friend of Sinners
Open our eyes to the world.
At the end of our pointing fingers,
Let our hearts be led by mercy.
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors.
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners,
Break our hearts for what breaks Yours. 
You love every lost cause,
You reach for the outcast,
For the leper and the lame.
They're the reason that You came.
Lord, I was that lost cause,
And I was the outcast.
But You died for sinners just like me,
A grateful leper at Your feet.

Now we hear the term “Friend of sinners,” and we think Oh, isn’t that lovely? But in the original context in which that epithet occurred, it was a criticism—a glutton, a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.
Well, I want to suggest that there may be no more precious name given to Jesus than this one, Friend of sinners. To think that the purest of the pure would be a friend to those who are so utterly unlike Him.
But let’s remember that Jesus is not the friend of sin. His is not a friendship that condones sin. He came to deliver sinners from their sin.
He doesn’t overlook our sin—sin had to be paid for and Jesus did pay for it with His life. The penalty for our sin and for the sin of every sinner in the world who will trust Him was placed on Christ as that’s what it means for Him to be a friend to sinners.
Jesus is a friend of anyone who knows himself to be a sinner and will receive His friendship. Jesus’ friendship is not just chumminess. It’s a pursuing, purifying friendship. And as so many sinners experienced when Jesus was here on earth, once you receive His friendship, you can’t keep going on in your sin. His friendship is transformational. It’ll take away our bent to sinning, our desire for sin.
So being a friend of sinners doesn’t mean that we condone or we participate in their sin. Jesus likened Himself in the passages we’ve been looking at, to a physician. Think about a doctor who deals with a lot of disease. The doctor doesn’t like the disease he’s dealing with. He doesn’t love it. He doesn’t have the desire to be around it or to catch it. And he doesn’t condone the disease in the sick person’s life. His purpose for being around sick people is to help them get well. Well, Jesus associated with sinners, so He could help them get well. So they could be restored to wholeness by His grace. —Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” —Matthew 11:18-19

For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.” — Luke 7:33-35

One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and reclined at table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”

“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”—Luke 7:36-50

And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” -- Mark 2:14-17


Jesus, the God/man. He came to bring a holy God and sinful man together, to restore us to fellowship and right relationship. Jesus satisfied the wrath of God by offering up His life on the cross. There’s no more sacrifice needed for sin. We don’t have to go through another person to get to God. We go directly to God, not on our own merit, but through Jesus Christ, our Great High Priest.
Now, His sacrifice on the cross is a finished work. It was a once and for all sacrifice. And you’ll read that phrase numerous times in the book of Hebrews. Once and for all. But Jesus work on our behalf as a priest is not over. He still serves as our Great High Priest today in heaven. He has an ongoing ministry….He intercedes for us…You may remember that the Old Testament priest wore a garment that was called an ephod. E-P-H-O-D. That ephod had an onyx stone on each shoulder on which were engraved the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. Six names on one shoulder, six names on the other shoulder. Then they wore another garment that was called the breast piece of judgment. And on that piece of cloth were set twelve stones that were engraved with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.
And the Scripture tells us about this in Exodus 28. It says: “[And] Aaron [who was the first high priest] shall bear their names [the names of the people] before the Lord on his two shoulders . . . [and] on his heart, when he goes into the Holy Place, to bring them to regular remembrance before the Lord” (Ex. 28:12, 29).
Remember we said that was a role of the Old Testament priest to offer up prayers on behalf of the people. And in case they would ever forget, they had the names of those twelve tribes on their shoulders and on their hearts. As they went before the Lord, they would remember the people to the Lord. They would pray for the people. They’d make intercession before God on behalf of the people.
Hebrews tells us that as our Great High Priest, Jesus is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (see Heb 7:25) That’s what a priest does. He bears our names on His shoulders and on His heart. As He goes before the throne of God, He carries us to the Father. He prays for us.
I don’t need another human priest praying for me. Now we can pray for each other, and we do pray for each other. But as we do, we’re just entering into the high priestly ministry of Jesus. He is the one who makes perfect intercession for us. He knows what we need. He knows our failings. He knows how we’re tempted. He knows how we’re stumbling. He knows the home situation you are going back to today. He knows how to pray for you.
Oswald Sanders has said in his book on The Incomparable Christ, We could not live the Christian life for a day were it not that He lives to intercede for us. . . . There is no personal problem for which He has no solution, no enemy from whom He cannot rescue, no sin from which He cannot deliver—because He ever lives to make intercession for us.
And because He lives to intercede for us always, there’s not a single day or hour in our lives that we cannot endure and press on. As we pour out our needs to Him, our need for direction, our need for wisdom, our struggle with indwelling sin, our burden for prodigals and unsaved husbands and terminal illness and broken relationships. As we cry out to Jesus, He sympathizes, He understands, He gets us, and He makes intercession for us to the Father. He has been here. He is in the flesh. He knows. He’s walked this earth. He’s lived this life. He knows our needs, and He prays for us.
Robert Murray M'Cheyne said it this way: “If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me.” Remember that.
So in Hebrews 8:1 it says: “Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven.” Jesus, our Great High Priest—He mediates between us and God. He approaches God on our behalf. He makes us right with God. He prays for us. He continually leads us into the presence of God by the virtue of His perfect sacrifice and His intercession on our behalf.
Knowing Jesus as our Great High Priest gives us a basis for confidence. We don’t have to just slink into the presence of God and worry that He might not like us that day or He might be mad at us because of something we did. We can go with confidence and assurance in the name of Jesus our Great High Priest because the price for that sin has been paid. He is the sacrifice and He is the priest.
Hebrews 4:14:
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin (vv. 14–15).
Because He took on our humanity, because He was tempted, He sympathizes with us when we are weak and tempted. And because He never sinned, He is able to help us when we are tempted and when we need grace to go on—the grace of God. He is surely a “merciful and faithful high priest” (Heb. 2:17).
So verse 16 of Hebrews 4:
Therefore let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

—Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong, a perfect plea,
a great High Priest, whose name is Love
who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,
my name is written on His heart;
I know that while in heav'n He stands
no tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair
and tells me of the guilt within,
upward I look, and see Him there
who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died,
my sinful soul is counted free,
for God the just is satisfied
to look on Him and pardon me.

Behold Him there! the risen Lamb!
my perfect, spotless righteousness,
the great unchangeable I AM"
the King of glory and of grace!
One with Himself, I cannot die;
my soul is purchased by His blood;
my life is hid with Christ on high,
with Christ my Savior and my God.

Charitie Lees Bancroft

Great High Priest

Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God's house. —Hebrews 3:1-2

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. —Hebrews 4:14-16

And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was. So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him,
“You are my Son, today I have begotten you”; as he says also in another place,“You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.”—Hebrews 5:4-6

So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. —Hebrews 6:17-20

This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant. The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever. —Hebrews 7:22-28

Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man. —Hebrews 8:1-2


The gospel is founded upon giving and its spirit is giving. Buying and selling are unknown in spiritual things, unless we buy without money and without price. Payment is for the law. Under the gospel, everything is a gift. God gives us Jesus, gives us eternal life, gives us grace and glory, gives us everything, in fact, and then, moved by love to Him, we give ourselves back to Him and to His people. As it is the glory of the sun that he gives light and heat to our world, so is it God’s glory that He gives mercy and peace to the sons of men. And, moreover, as the sun is the author of reflected heat and is all the more valued because his beams can be reflected, so is God glorified by that part of His goodness which we are able to impart to others. God is glorified in the thanksgiving which is excited by the gifts of His people to the poor, as well as by their personal thanksgivings for His own gifts. He gives to us and we thank Him. We give to others and they thank God for the kindness which He has inspired in us. Thus a round of thanksgiving to God is created by the spirit of giving, which first of all displayed itself in the unspeakable gift of God. We are as cups filled at the spring and from us the thirsty drink and praise the fountain….I bid you peer over the brink upon which I would set you. Look down into this abyss of love. Be you sure of this, that this depth is unfathomable. It is idle to attempt a definition of infinity and therefore vain to hope to declare how wide, how high, how deep, how broad is the wondrous gift of God to the sons of men.

— Spurgeon

The Greatest Gift
By Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth
John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that He gave . . ."
This is the message of Christmas! It is God's gift to the world that attaches meaning to our tradition of exchanging Christmas gifts. It is in giving, as God gave, that we discover the true spirit of Christmas. Let us meditate for a moment on what it was that God gave the world that first Christmas.
God Gave the World a Savior — God even named the child who was to be conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin Mary. The child's name declared to the world that God had provided a Savior: “You shall call his name Jesus; for he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).
For thousands of years mankind had been held captive in sin. They were under the wrath of God who must judge all sin. There was no escape. Yet God continued to promise, through His prophets, the coming of One who would take on Himself all of God's anger against sin; One who could give us His righteousness in exchange for our wickedness.
Oh, God's gift was the gift of all gifts! The Savior! The Redeemer! The Liberator! Without this gift we had no hope. We were doomed to die in our sin, forever separated from God, and objects of His fierce wrath. Now, we can approach Him boldly, clothed in the righteousness of the Savior. Let us gratefully and humbly receive God's gift. Let us daily shout psalms of praise, “For you have delivered my soul from death” (Ps. 56:13). The Savior has been given!

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” —John 4:10

But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. —Romans 5:15

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. —Romans 6:23

Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift! — Romans 9:15


My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.  He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. -I John 2:1-2

If you are going to memorize a passage of Scripture, can I suggest these two verses? My guess is you are going to need the good news they deliver every day of your life, multiple times a day. I love the tone that John is taking here; “My little children” is such a sweet term of endearment. He is communicating to his readers his heart for them. He is pulling them close and looking them in the eye and saying, “Sweethearts, the goal is not to sin.” Now if he just stopped there we all would be undone, finished, exasperated. We know that’s the goal. Our inner lawyer reminds us of that goal every day all day long.

“Don’t sin”               

“Don’t screw this up again”

“Do better”

“Try harder”

“Remember what you promised yourself”

But then John comes in with some of the funniest five words in the Bible: “but if anyone does sin.” I mean, of course. Of course we will sin. It is who we are; it is what we do. Luther calls it being “bent in on ourselves”. Those five words are followed by seven more that reduce me to tears almost every time I read them— “we have an advocate with the Father”. Stop and read those words again. We have an advocate with the Father.

What makes them sweeter is the words that come before them: “if you happen to sin”. It would make sense if the words before were something like: “if you do your best”, “if you display self-control”, “if you do your quiet time every day”— but no, it’s the exact opposite —“if anyone does sin”. If you screw up, yet again. If you did the one thing you said you wouldn’t ever do. You, yes you,“have an advocate with the Father”. We have a helper. We have an advocate, one who is pleading our case to the Father. And what is his plea? Well, look at the next four glorious words “Jesus Christ the righteous”. He is standing before the Father saying “look at my righteousness; it is theirs too.”

Luther says this, “He is righteous and unstained. He is without sin. Whatever righteousness I have, this my Comforter has, He who cries out for me to the Father: ‘Spare him, and he has been spared! Forgive him! Help him!’ The righteousness of Jesus Christ is standing on our side. For the righteousness of God in Him is ours” — Jesus the righteous. Jesus in our place. He is the one advocating for us. He is the one standing before the Father, every single day of our lives. He is our advocate. He is our help.
He is the propitiation for our sin. He is the one that has born all of God’s wrath for all of our sin. He is the one that has taken away the penalty and the power of sin. He has covered us completely. Because He is our propitiation, you stand before a Holy God, right this second as one who is not guilty. Full stop. Bring to memory the sin that haunts, yes, even that sin is forgiven.

So dear children, children of God, if any of you happens to sin, remember Jesus. Remember where your righteousness is; it’s not in your own ability to do good, it’s not in your ability to not sin, it is in Christ. Christ your advocate, your helper. Christ your propitiation. Christ your covering. Christ for you. 

—Jessica Thompson

In the ancient world, the advocate was like a modern defense attorney who pleads a defendant’s case before a judge. When John calls Jesus “our Advocate,” he means that our Savior stands before the Father to plead our case. Yet Jesus’ work as our Advocate goes far above and beyond the work of an earthly defense attorney, for His case for us is grounded in the work He has done to secure God’s favorable verdict (Rom. 8:1–4). For those who are in Christ, God is no longer the Judge who condemns us but the Father who adopts us into His family. We are guilty of sin and unable to meet the Lord’s demands, but the perfect righteousness of Jesus, imputed to us in our justification, sets us right with God. Matthew Henry writes: “The clients are guilty; their innocence and legal righteousness cannot be pleaded. It is the advocate’s own righteousness that he must plead for the criminals.”

God no longer condemns believers, for Christ has satisfied His Father’s just demands. This is clear in 1 John 2:2, which describes the foundation for Jesus’ work as our Advocate. He is the “propitiation” for us, the one who endured the wrath we deserve so that divine justice is fulfilled, not set aside. Christ is the propitiation for “the whole world,” not because He made atonement for every sinner, but because He redeemed not only Jews but people from all parts of the world. The Father accepts no atonement from anyone except the death of His only begotten Son. Thus, Jesus is the world’s Savior.

Jesus’ priestly work as our Advocate, 1 John 2:1 explains, involves our ongoing sanctification and our once-for-all justification. When we first trust Jesus, His righteousness is imputed to us, giving us a righteous status that cannot be lost (Rom. 5:9; 8:30). Yet even though there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ, we continue to sin until we are glorified. We continually need God’s forgiveness to encourage us to walk in holiness. As we repent, Jesus advocates for us to restore our fellowship with God.

Coram Deo
Even now, Jesus is pleading with the Father in our behalf, interceding for us that we might be forgiven, purified, and strengthened for holiness. To be sure, we work out our salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12–13), but we can do so because the Savior prays for us to guarantee our perseverance. Let us rejoice that Jesus continues to advocate for us, and let us always draw near to the throne of grace when we are in need.

— RC Sproul