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Thomas Goodwin :: Section Five :: Chapter Eight

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CHRIST SET FORTH
Section Five :: Chapter Eight

The potency and prevalency of Christ’s intercession, demonstrated from the graciousness of the person with whom he intercedes, considered first as he is the Father of Christ himself.

(2.) We have seen the greatness of the person interceding, and many considerations from thence, which may persuade us of his prevailing for us. Let us now in the next place consider the graciousness of the person with whom he intercedes, which the Scripture, for our comfort herein, does distinctly set before us, to the end that in this great matter our joy and security may every way be full. Thus in that, 1 John 2:1, when for the comfort and support of believers, against the evil of the greatest sins that can befall them after conversion, the apostle minds them of Christ’s intercession in those words, “If any man sin, we have an advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous;” mentioning therein the power and prevalency of such an advocate, through his own righteousness. But yet, over and above all this, the more fully to assure us of his good success herein for us, he also adds, “An advocate with the Father.” He insinuates and suggests the relation and gracious disposition of him upon whose supreme will our case ultimately depends, “the Father,” as affording a new comfort and encouragement, even as great as does the righteousness and power of the person interceding. He says not, “with God” only, as elsewhere, but “with the Father.” And that his words might afford the more full matter of confidence, and be the more comprehensive, and take in all, he expresses not this relation of God limitedly, as confined to his Fatherhood, either unto Christ only or us alone.

He says not only, “an advocate with his Father,” though that would have given much assurance, or “with your Father,” though that might afford much boldness. But indefinitely he says, “with the Father,” as intending to take in both; to ascertain us of the prevailing efficacy of Christ’s intercession from both. You have both these elsewhere more distinctly, and on purpose, and together mentioned in John 20:17, “I go to my Father, and your Father,” says Christ there. And it was spoken after that all his disciples had before forsaken him, and Peter denied him, when Christ himself could send them the greatest cordial that his heart could utter, and wrap up the strongest sublimation of comforts in one pill. What was it? Go, tell them (says he) not so much that I have satisfied for sin, overcome death, or am risen, but that “I ascend.” For in that which Christ does for us being ascended, lies the height, the top of our comfort. And whereas he might have said (and it had been matter of unspeakable comfort) I ascend to heaven, and so, where I am you shall be also. Yet he chooses rather to say, “I ascend to the Father,” for that indeed contained the foundation, spring, and cause of their comfort, even that relation of God’s, his Fatherhood, with which Christ was to deal after his ascending for them. And because when, before his death, he had spoken of his going to his Father, their hearts had been troubled in John 14:28; they thinking it was for his own preferment only (as Christ’s speech there implies they did) therefore he here distinctly adds, “I ascend to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” He had in elect spoken as much before, in the words foregoing, “Go, tell my brethren,” but that was only implicitly; therefore more plainly and explicitly he says it, for their further comfort, “I go to my Father and your Father.”

And consider that Christ being now newly risen and having as yet not seen his disciples, and being now to send a message, his first message, a gospel of good tidings to them, and that in a brief sentence, by a woman. He chooses out this as the first word to be spoken from him now, when he was come out of the other world, at their first hearsay of his return, he utters forth at once, the bottom, the depth, of all comfort, the sum of all joy, than which the gospel knows no greater, nor can go higher. So as if Christ should intend now at this day to send good news from heaven to any of you, it would be but this, I am here an advocate, interceding with my Father and your Father. All is spoken in that. Even he could not speak more comfort, who is the God of comfort. Now, therefore, let us apart consider these two relations, which afford each of them their proper comfort and assurance; both that Christ is ascended and intercedes with his own Father, and also with our Father; and therefore, how prevailing must this intercession be!

  • First, Christ intercedes with his Father, who neither will nor can deny him anything. To confirm this, you have a double testimony, and of two of the greatest witnesses in heaven: both a testimony of Christ’s own, while he was on earth, and God’s own word also declared since Christ came to heaven. The former, in John 11, while Christ was here on earth and had not as then fully performed that great service which he was to finish; which since he having done, it must necessarily ingratiate him the more with God his Father. When Lazarus was now four days dead, Martha, to move Christ to pity her, first tells him that if he had been there before her brother died, that then he had not died; and then (as having spoken too little) she adds, yes, you can, if you please, remedy it yet. “But I know” (says she in John 11:22) “that even now” (though he be so long dead), “whatever thou will ask of God, God will give it you.” Here was her confidence in Christ’s intercession, though this were a greater work than ever yet Christ had done any. And Christ seeing her faith in this, he confirms her speech when he came to raise him, and takes a solemn occasion to declare that God had never denied him any request that he had ever put up to him, first thanking God particularly that he had heard him in this in John 11:41, “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.” He had (it seems) prayed for the thing at her entreaty, and now before the thing was done, he (being assured his prayer was heard) gives thanks, so confident was he of his being heard. And then, secondly, shows upon what this his confidence at this time was grounded, his constant experience that God had never denied him any request; for it follows in John 11:42, “And I know that thou hearest me always,” and therefore was so bold as to express my confidence in this before the thing was done, “but because of them who stood by, I said it.” As if he had said, though I gave this public thanks for being heard only in this one miracle, and at no time the like so publicly; yet this is no new thing, but thus it has been always hitherto in all the miracles I have wrought, and requests I have put up, which made me so to give thanks beforehand; and this is not the first time that God has heard me thus, which I speak, that they might believe. Thus he was never denied on earth from the first to the last. For this was one of his greatest miracles and reserved unto the last, even a few days before his crucifying.

  • And now he has performed the service designed him and is come to heaven, let us, secondly, hear God himself speak, what he means to do for him. You heard before, when he came first to heaven, what God said to him and how he welcomed him with a “Sit thou on my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.” And before Christ opened his mouth to speak a word, by way of any request to God, which was the office that he was now to execute, God himself prevented him and added, “Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I will give thee,” Psalm 2:8. He speaks it at Christ’s first coming up to heaven, when he had his “King on his holy hill,” as in Psalm 2:6. Christ was now glorified, which was as a new begetting to him, “Today have I begotten thee.” And this is as if he had said, I know you will ask me now for all that you have died for: and this I promise you beforehand, before you speak a word, or make any request unto me, you shall ask nothing but it shall be granted; and this I speak once for all as a boon and a grace granted you upon your birthday, as the solemnest celebration of it; for such was his resurrection, and ascension, and sitting at God’s right hand, “This day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I will give thee.”

So full of joy was his Father’s heart that he had his Son in heaven with him, whom he had begotten from everlasting, and ordained to this glory, who was lately dead, and in a manner lost, and therefore now (as it were) newly begotten. God’s heart was so full that he could not hold from expressing it in the largest favors and grants. And whereas kings upon their own birthdays use to grant such favors to their favorites, so Herod on his birthday, to the daughter of Herodias, promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask, Matthew 14:7. God himself having no birthday, not being of himself capable of it, yet having a Son who had, he honors him with that grace upon that day. And if Queen Esther (a subject, yes, a slave, in her original condition) was so prevalent for the Jews, her people and nation, when their case was desperate and when there was an irrevocable decree past, and that not to be altered, for their ruin and destruction, then what will not Christ, so great a Son, even equal with his Father, prevail for with his Father for his brethren? Be their case for the time past never so desperate, be there never so many threatenings gone out against them, never so many precedents and examples of men condemned before for the like sins, and in the like case, yet Christ can prevail against them all.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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