This week, I looked up all the Topical Guide references to Jesus Christ, Advocate and Jesus Christ, Mediator. The two roles seemed so closely connected that it felt like they should be studied together. Here are the questions that occurred to me and what I learned as I studied them:
For he hath answered the ends of the law, and he claimeth all those who have faith in him; and they who have faith in him will cleave unto every good thing; wherefore he advocateth the cause of the children of men; and he dwelleth eternally in the heavens (Moroni 7:28).
Lift up your hearts and be glad, for I am in your midst, and am your advocate with the Father; and it is his good will to give you the kingdom (D&C 29:5).
Why do we need an advocate with the Father? Given that the Father loves us as much as does the Son, why do we need more than the Father's own love for us to advocate on our behalf?
I believe this has to do with the goodness of the Father and His faithfulness to eternal laws, including the law of justice. He cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance (Alma 45:16). But what does that mean, exactly? It doesn't mean that He cannot allow sin to exist, because clearly He does. Nor does it mean that He cannot work with us if we are sinful, because again, clearly we are sinful and He works with us.
Webster's 1828 is helpful. It defines allowance as "permission; license; approbation; sanction; usually slight approbation." So, that means to me that there is no threshold under which sin is acceptable to God. Come judgement day, I can't stand before Him with a little bit of bad in my nature and a whole lot of good and expect to be accepted into a kingdom of glory. I need to be purified; completely. And I need to have repaired all the ill I've done, because that's justice. What you break, you fix. But how does one trace the ripple effect of a single unkindness? How do I neutralize a condemning word that opportunistic devils seized the moment it left my lips to whip my victim with it ever since? What is my portion of guilt when that word, overheard, leaves other lips to lash additional victims? I can apologize and I can pile kind words on top of condemning ones, but the weapon I created may continue to do harm, despite my every effort to stop it. It's beyond me. And that's just a thoughtless word. My history is filled with damage I don't even know I've done that is beyond my capacity to repair.
Justice says I need to pay for that. All of it. The prospect is so overwhelming that I'm inclined to disclaim responsibility. I might argue that the people I've hurt made choices too, or that it was the abuse they took from someone else that predisposed them to be hurt by me. I can even blame people who've hurt me for my passing it on. But it all amounts to blowing smoke. The fact remains that I have done harm that I can't fix and simple justice would banish me forever from God's embrace, if not for Jesus Christ.
He is my advocate and mediator who makes intercession with the Father and also with the ones I've harmed.
According to Webster's 1828, to mediate is to "interpose between parties, as the equal friend of each." I love that concept!
The harms I cannot fix, He can, to the last degree.
There was a time in my life when I longed for recognition by my then husband of the anguish he had caused me. I thought that I needed him to understand my pain, the pain he caused, and to offer an abject apology. I couldn't be happy until he did. And far from understanding, he kept minimizing my experience and blaming my wounds from his emotional blows on experiences from my childhood. I anguished, waiting for an apology that he seemed incapable of making. And then, it suddenly occurred to me that my Saviour was right there beside me, helping me cope with every heartache and healing my wounds. I didn't need my husband to make right for me what Jesus already had. I was fine. More than that, I was exceedingly blessed.
That didn't mean that the person who was hurting me didn't need to repent. He did, but for his sake, not mine. He needed to work things out with Jesus, who had already more than squared things up with me. And it was true that the only way he could make things right with Jesus, who says "inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matthew 25:40), was by making restitution to me. But that wasn't about me anymore, because I was no longer owed anything. In the glorious economy of Heaven, blessings multiply like loaves and fishes. Jesus has paid everybody's debts, and now invites us to square with Him back by serving each other, so that if we will just repent and follow Him, we all end up more blessed than if no-one had ever offended against us.
That, is how Jesus mediates between mortals. With the Father, it must be a little different, but maybe not so much. Everyone of us has offended against Goodness (what the Father is) in ways that we seem incapable of even contemplating, let alone repairing. But Jesus, who is an equal friend to us and to Goodness, took upon Himself, metabolized and neutralized all of our sins and the afflictions and heartaches that they cause in the lives of others. Justice demands that such infinite kindness should have an infinite reward. But Jesus, who did no sin, cannot be rewarded with Eternal Life because He already has it. Justice permits Him to give that gift to us, if only we will take upon ourselves His name and nature so that we can belong where He would lead us. "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" (Hebrews 7:25).
Thus, Jesus advocates with the Father in our behalf, and with each of us in each other's behalf. To the Father, He says, "Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified; Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life" (D&C 45:4-5).
To me, He says, "Anne, behold my sufferings and death for your sins, and all the ways that I have blessed, strengthened and healed you from the wounds you've experienced at another's hands. Wherefore, Anne, do not exact reparations from those others who've hurt you, only leave them with Me. Pray for them to believe on My name, because I love them like I love you, that they may come unto Me and have everlasting life."
I have heard those words in my heart and, for me, they opened a door out of anguish. Have you ever heard them in yours?