In the scriptures there are many titles for Jesus Christ. Among those are 3 terms used in a legal setting, advocate, mediator, and judge. Each of these has a topical guide entry which contains scriptures about how Christ acts in that role.
Being that these are legal terms, is implies there must also be a law defined to which they relate. There are 2 sets of laws God has used to govern his people by: the law of Moses (lesser or preparatory law), and the law of Christ (higher law).
Lets look at each of these terms and then see what the scriptures say about Christ in that role. Definitions are taken from Webster’s 1828 dictionary and truncated for the most relevant information.
AD’VOCATE, noun [Latin advocatus, from advoco, to call for, to plead for…]
1. advocate in its primary sense, signifies, one who pleads the cause of another in a court of civil law..
3. One who defends, vindicates, or espouses a cause, by argument; one who is friendly to; as, an advocate for peace, or for the oppressed.
AD’VOCATE, verb transitive To plead in favor of; to defend by argument, before a tribunal; to support or vindicate.
In a legal parallel, an advocate is someone who knows the law and whom you have authorized to represent you. We might call this person your lawyer. From the Bible there are a few verses which indicate Christ is our advocate.
1 John 2:1 “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:”
There are also a few verses in the Book of Mormon which speak of this role such as this one: (Insertion mine)
Moroni 7:28 “For he hath answered the ends of the law (of Moses), 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.”
However, the best explanation of how Christ acts as our advocate is found in modern day revelation in Doctrine & Covenants 45.
3. Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him—
4. Saying: 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;
5. Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life.
An advocate is one who defends and seeks to vindicate someone for their wrongdoing. We have all broken the law and there is a punishment for violating the law which is hell.
However, instead of Christ trying to defend our actions or advocate on our merits of what good works we’ve done to save us from the hell that we deserve for our sins, he pleads with the Father to behold HIS merits and sinless life, and then claims us as his own.
We are saved from torment through the grace of Christ acting as our advocate who saves us from death, hell, and the devil’s captivity. And I suppose that those who don’t accept Christ as their Savior and advocate, represent themselves at the bar of God. I don’t think that’s a very good idea…
In today’s legal environment, a mediator is a neutral 3rd party that helps 2 opposing sides come together to try and reach an agreement. Webster’s 1828 says:
MEDIA’TOR, noun One that interposes between parties at variance for the purpose of reconciling them.
1. By way of eminence, Christ is the mediator the divine intercessor through whom sinners may be reconciled to an offended God. Tim.2.
Christ is a mediator by nature, as partaking of both natures divine and human; and mediator by office, as transacting matters between God and man.
Isn’t that an amazing insight from a dictionary (which would never be published in a modern version)? By his very nature Christ mediates the chasm between mortal and divine. He is the bridge across that gulf.
John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
Jesus is the way across that gulf of misery.
Helaman 5:12. “And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.”
As mediator, he bridges this gap between mortal and divine and does it through a better promise.
Hebrews 8:6 “But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant (better than the law of Moses), which was established upon better promises.”
What are those better promises?
There are 2 mentioned in scripture.
The first is the promise that God would raise up a Savior to redeem his people.
Acts 13:23. Of this man’s seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus:
The second is the promise of the Holy Ghost.
Acts 2:33. Therefore (Christ) being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.
When Christ was ascended into heaven, completing the work of the Father, he received this promise of the Father that he could send the Holy Ghost into the world that those who would repent and be baptized by authority, may receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Acts 2:38. Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
39. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
And one of the missions of the Holy Ghost is to change our mortal, carnal, natural nature, into the divine nature of Christ.
2 Peter 1:4. Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
Thus Christ as mediator, sends forth the Holy Ghost upon those that repent and are baptized, to change our nature from carnal to divine.
Again from the Book of Mormon:
2 Nephi 2:28 “And now, my sons, I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit;”
And modern revelation.
Doctrine and Covenants 76:69 “These are they who are just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, who wrought out this perfect atonement through the shedding of his own blood.”
Here is a wonderful video that shows an example of how Christ is our mediator. It’s a video based on a talk by Elder Boyd K. Packer.
The Webster’s entry for judge is lengthy and I have cut it way back because of the length. If you want to read it all, here is a link. I love how Webster uses scriptures in his definitions to give examples of the various ways the meaning is utilized.
JUDGE, noun [Latin judex, supposed to be compounded of jus, law or right, and dico, to pronounce.]
1. A civil officer who is invested with authority to hear and determine causes, civil or criminal, between parties, according to his commission;
2. The Supreme Being.
Shall not the judge of all the earth do right? Genesis 18:25.
4. One who has skill to decide on the merits of a question, or on the value of any thing; one who can discern truth and propriety.
JUDGE, verb intransitive [Latin judico.]
1. To compare facts or ideas, and perceive their agreement or disagreement, and thus to distinguish truth from falsehood.
JUDGE, verb transitive To hear and determine a case; to examine and decide.
1. To try; to examine and pass sentence on.
What is the purpose of law?
17. Now, how could a man repent except he should sin? How could he sin if there was no law? How could there be a law save there was a punishment?
18. Now, there was a punishment affixed, and a just law given, which brought remorse of conscience unto man…
22. But there is a law given, and a punishment affixed, and a repentance granted; which repentance, mercy claimeth; otherwise, justice claimeth the creature and executeth the law, and the law inflicteth the punishment; if not so, the works of justice would be destroyed, and God would cease to be God.
The law causes us to feel remorse, which turns our guilt into repentance, if we heed the promptings of the Holy Spirit to repent. Otherwise, the law inflicts the punishment. It is eternal law that God, a being full of love, mercy, and compassion, cannot violate or he would cease to be God.
God dispenses the law to each nation in accordance with what he knows they are capable of living.
Alma 29:8. For behold, the Lord doth grant unto all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word, yea, in wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have; therefore we see that the Lord doth counsel in wisdom, according to that which is just and true.
How does he grant it? Through prophets who teach the people the law and record it for future generations. Nephi wrote:
2 Nephi 29:11. For I (the Lord) command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written.
So there is a law given to man by God by which he is to live. But if Christ as our advocate says to the Father, “don’t look upon these and their sins, but look upon me who did no sin,” what then is being judged? He’s telling the Father not to look at our works. Isn’t he just going to claim his own and send the rest into torment?
Paul tells us there is a judgement for which we must appear and account for our actions (works):
1 Cor. 5:10. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”
John similarly wrote:
Revelation 20:12. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
13. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
Nephi in the Book of Mormon wrote:
1 Nephi 2:10. And because of the intercession for all, all men come unto God; wherefore, they stand in the presence of him, to be judged of him according to the truth and holiness which is in him. Wherefore, the ends of the law which the Holy One hath given, unto the inflicting of the punishment which is affixed, which punishment that is affixed is in opposition to that of the happiness which is affixed, to answer the ends of the atonement—
What then is this judgement if Christ claims us before the Father as one of his own and saves us by his grace?
The answer is found in understanding the rewards promised to those that Christ eventually claims after their repentance and acceptance of his gospel and aren’t cast out into a place from whence they can no more return.
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:
22. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
23. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
Paul is speaking of the resurrection where Christ is the first to be resurrected, and then those that are Christ’s, and then those that are not. All are resurrected in order that they may be judged… Nephi wrote:
2 Nephi 9:22. And he suffereth this that the resurrection might pass upon all men, that all might stand before him at the great and judgment day.
The resurrection is in a sense, a partial judgement. Paul continues in 1 Corinthians 15:
40. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
41. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.
42. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
Paul teaches us there are orders we are placed in, in the resurrection. This variety of bodies, celestial (sun), terrestrial (moon), and telestial (referenced in D&C 76 as the glory of the stars), is according to the light within us based on our works in accordance with God’s law. All kingdom’s of glory receive salvation from hell and the devil, thanks to the grace of Christ through his role as our advocate, but there is still a judgement which is based on the light within us. That judgement will not be any surprise to anyone. It will be obvious based on the life we have lived according to the light and truth we have received and accepted, and be reflected in our resurrected body.
This makes it utterly beyond the reach of man to ever judge anyone. We don’t know how much light and law someone has received, and we don’t know the extent of their weaknesses used in mortality to test them. Only God has the perfect capacity to know the law and apply it to individual cases since not everyone receives the same amount of light and law as others.
This is why Christ warned us:
Matthew 7:1. Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
Yet elsewhere we are told to judge. The difference being that we have many judgements to make about people on matters of trust or things to participate in, but we must never judge others in an eternal sense of placing them into categories of where they go after death.
Only God has perfect vision and understanding about what a person has experienced in life and what they merit and by putting ourselves in the place of God and acting like we have authority (or even capacity) to do such a thing, apparently brings upon us the same imperfect judgement of ourselves that we bring to bear on others.
C.S. Lewis made this wonderful observation which relates to this concept of not judging others.
“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner—no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat—the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.”-The Weight of Glory
Love all, let God judge. Be pleasantly surprised in the next life when that neighbor you thought was irredeemable winds up ahead of you in line because God knew their heart and the extent of their trials better than you did. :)
Christ advocates on our behalf, not by our good works, but by his.
Christ mediates by bridging the gap between mortal and divine nature. He fulfills the promises of the Father to send a Savior, and to give him power to spread the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Christ judges us to determine where those who are saved will ultimately reside in glory.
Please share any other insights you have on this in the comments.
(Image by Nataliya Kalabina @ 123rf.com)
New Content: Apocrypha added to Scripture Notes
Trusting vs. Relying on the Lord
How to Go Deep on a Verse Topic – The Value of Life
How to Stay Motivated Studying the Scriptures or Giving up Lukewarm for HOT
Building a Collection Note fast from a set of references
Guest Post: The Meaning of ‘In”
Please log in again. The login page will open in a new tab. After logging in you can close it and return to this page.