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Theology > Jesus > Resurrection and Ascension > Ministry of Intercession  


Intercession is the act of petitioning God or pleading with God on behalf of another; it is prayer to God for someone else. With reference to Christ His ministry of intercession is one of interceding, praying, or making request to the Father on behalf of His followers. During His earthly ministry He anticipated, by His intercession then, His present intercessory work in His exalted state; to Peter Jesus said: “I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail” (Lu. 22:32).

Examples of human intercession are found in the Scriptures: Abraham for Sodom (Gen. 18); the request of Pharaoh to Moses (Ex. 8:28); Moses for the nation (Ex. 15:25); intercession of believers for others (I Tim. 2:1). But the supreme intercession is the intercession of Christ.

Before His passion Christ prayed for those who belonged to Him and those who would come to know Him; in His prayer is insight into His ministry of intercession:

I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours . . . Holy Father keep through Your name those whom You have give Me . . . I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one . . . sanctify them by Your truth . . .  I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word . . . Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world (Jo. 17:9, 11, 15, 17, 20, 24).

Paul, the writer of Hebrews, and the apostle John speak of the intercessory work of Christ as the only High Priest who has an eternal priesthood, and as the only One who is qualified to make intercession without the necessity of purifying Himself, because He is eternally pure. Such is our High Priest.

It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us (Rom. 8:34).

But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them (Heb. 7:24-25).

For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us (Heb. 9:24).

And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (I Jo. 2:1).

Involved in the intercession of Christ are the following points:

One, by His life, death, resurrection, and ascension Christ is qualified to appear before God for the believer, who cannot appear for himself because of his sinful state and acts; by His work on our behalf the condemnation of the Law is removed; in every respect Christ meets the needs of the sinner before God;

Two, before the Father Christ appeals for the believer’s forgiveness from the evil and sins that characterize him, a forgiveness granted because of the penalty paid by the Son; with forgiveness, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit;

Three, as believers we commit sins daily, and Christ, the righteous One, is our Advocate with the Father;

Four, He prays for us that we may be kept from the evil one, and that we might be sanctified by the Truth of God;

Five, He intercedes to the Father that those who are believers in Him may be able to behold His eternal glory, the glory given Him by the Father.

It is impossible to fathom the intercession of the Son to the Father. It is natural and perhaps impossible for the believer not to form some sort of literal manner in which the intercession takes place. For many believers some concrete conceptualization of the intercession of Christ to the Father facilitates understanding and assists belief. Does the Son actually sit at the Father’s right hand when the Father is not material but spirit? Is the Son constantly addressing the Father? Is it actually verbal and linguistic, or is it intuitive and immediate communication between the members of the Trinity? Are actual words spoken, or is the communication via spiritual comprehension? Does the entire metaphor of intercession inform the believer of facts about God and the believer? Is it improper to ascribe concreteness, especially when it transcends the historical, to that which informs of spiritual Truth?
Note: Closely related to the intercession of Christ is the intercession of the Spirit; Paul speaks of the Spirit’s work:

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God (Rom. 8:26-27).

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