The Intercession of Christ
How Does Jesus Intercede for Us?
A concerned mother will take great care concerning the health of her children. She will reflect that concern by practicing both preventive and curative medicine. She will prevent her children from eating the wrong kinds of foods, or stop them from playing in dangerous places, or keep them inside when it is cold outside unless they wear warm clothing. A loving mother will carefully plan a family menu and provide her children with supplementary vitamins whenever she feels it is necessary. Many times her preventive steps are far more effective than treatment for some sickness.
The intercessory work of Christ is similar to preventive medicine for the Christian. While in one sense we may use the term “intercession” to identify all of the present work of mediation in heaven, the biblical use of the term more specifically relates to the work of Christ on behalf of the believer’s weakness and temptation. As a lawyer may often make calls on behalf of his client, so Christ is continually interceding to the Father on our behalf. “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25). Several things characterize this ministry of Christ.
Effective intercession is not a once and-for-all event, but a continuing event. In our world, intercessory prayer is a ministry of praying for the needs of others as long as the needs exist. Yet Christ is not described as praying, but he personally is our intercessor. “He ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25, italics mine). Since Christ lives forever and will not change, we can expect him to be our continual intercessor for us. Paul asked, “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Rom. 8:34).
Many parents will teach their children to pray at bedtime for others but it is often in maturity that those same Christians pray actively for others. The intercessory prayers of Christ are not just a recitation of an old familiar prayer list, but an expression of the heart of God. Jesus was “moved with compassion” (Matt. 9:36) when he asked his disciples to intercede for the world. “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matt. 9:38). It is significant that his intercessory prayer for us is also motivated by love. As Jesus prays for us he also becomes actively involved in helping us.
Christ has given us the Holy Spirit to help us in our Christian lives. This was one of the first items on his prayer list. Jesus told his disciples, “I will pray the Father and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever” (John 14:16). Christ wants to give us the best in every part of our life. Paul asked, “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us,, -who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with ‘him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:31, 32).
We should rejoice that the prayers of Jesus for us are not as general as some Christians’ prayers for others. There are certain matters in which Jesus will specifically intercede. He alone understands us, even better than we may understand ourselves. In addition to the specific needs and weaknesses in our own lives, there are a number of specific prayer requests on’ the “Prayer List of Jesus.” Some of these are listed in the following chart. The Scripture references help us better understand what Jesus wants God to do in our lives.
A fourth characteristic of Jesus’ intercession or prayer is that it is preventive in design. God does not delight in our failure. Some seem to feel that God delights in judging us and punishing us for our sin (1 Sam. 15:22). The ministry of Christ as our intercessor works in cooperation with the work of the Holy Spirit and Scripture to prevent us from sinning. As long as we are in the flesh we are subject to sin, but sinlessness should still be the aim of every Christian. David said, “”Thy word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against thee”” (Ps. 119:11).. This promise is one of the Old Testament foundations. John writes in his first epistle, “”My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not”” (1 John 2:1). As we attempt to gain victory over temptation in our lives on earth, we have an intercessor in heaven who understands the nature of temptation experientially and interprets for us. “”For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin”” Heb. 4:15).
“The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). We seek to apply this promise in our own prayer life, but it can also be applied to the prayer life of Christ. The apostle Paul described righteousness as an attribute of Christ, because he is the source of all righteousness (Rom. 5:17-21). Certainly if our prayers are guaranteed to be effectual if we live righteously, then we may be certain God will respond to the intercession of his righteous Son.
Every Christian sins because he was born with a sinful nature (Ps. 51:5; 1 John 1:8), because of the temptation of Satan (1 Pet. 5:8), because of the influence of this world (Eph. 2:2, 3), but most of all because of the lust within him (1 John 2:15, 16). Christ intercedes for the believer lest he sin, but when he sins . . Jesus is his advocate.