By Samuel Clough
This is part 1 of a 2 part series. Part 2, “Responding to Jesus’ Intercession” is available here.
“Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” – Hebrews 7:25 (NKJV)
Jesus’ intercession is not just a prayer that He prays; it is a life that He lives. He “always lives” to make intercession for us. He has given His life to the great work of intercession for us. This tells us just how significant this intercession is. Because Jesus’s pleasure is to perform the Father’s will, we also know that this intercession is very dear to the Father. They both see this intercession as worthy of Jesus’ life.
Not only is this intercession dear to the Father and Son, this is a significant work of intercession because it required Jesus’ own life. God has had intercessors after His heart throughout history including Moses, Daniel, Samuel, and Paul (Exodus 32:1-14; Deuteronomy 9; Psalm 99:6; Jeremiah 15:1; Ezekiel 14:4; Romans 9:3) and yet none of them are capable of this great work of intercession. This work of intercession is so significant that it requires Jesus the God-man.
This is such a significant work of intercession that is critical that we understand the purpose of it and intercession in this verse should not be understood simply as Jesus’ praying in the way we typically think of prayer.
Jesus is not praying for us so that we do not have to pray; He is interceding before the Father so that we might approach the throne. Being fallen creatures marked by sin, we have no right to approach the throne and should face the wrath of God if we could approach because of our sin.
However, Jesus’ intercession allows us to approach God because His blood has been sprinkled on the mercy seat and His blood actually allows us to approach God. Without that blood, we would be consumed, but because that blood is making intercession for us, we can boldly approach the throne and speak to the living God.
Just as the priests ministering to God in the camp kept God from breaking out against the congregation (Numbers 1:53), so too Jesus’ intercession keeps the holiness of God from breaking out against us and instead creates a context where we can meet God face to face and hear His voice without experiencing His wrath.
How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. – Hebrews 9:14-15 (NKJV)
Therefore brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus by a new and living way that He created for us… – Hebrews 10:19-20 (NKJV)
Many have the idea that Jesus is sitting there praying to the Father for them. While this idea is not entirely wrong, depending on how you define prayer, it is not the entire picture that the author of Hebrews desires to communicate. Instead, the author is telling us that Jesus is interceding for us so that we can pray. The point is that we can actually appear before the mercy seat and pray ourselves. Without His continual intercession, we don’t have access to stand before the throne in the place of prayer.
If we do not take advantage of Jesus’ intercession and actually appear before the throne then we are neglecting the new and living way that Jesus has opened for us to the Father and not fully valuing His life and death.
Jesus intercession flows out of the Father’s burning desire for communion with His people. God is longing for intimate communion with man, and yet at the same time is completely holy and because of this is unapproachable to fallen creatures. The depth of God’s desire is demonstrated in the costliness of Jesus’ sacrifice and His continual intercession satisfies the Father’s burning desire to be able to have communion with us. Because He sits there as a mediator, we can now approach a holy God.
Not only does His intercession satisfy the burning desire of God, it also satisfies the deep desire of the human heart to appear before God. In the God-man we find the perfect intersection of desire.
The desire of God and the desire of man meet perfectly in the person of Jesus. God has desire for us and we grope and long for Him. Both these desires exist simultaneously within Jesus because He is fully God and fully man. Though men give themselves to various things to try to silence the inner ache, it is obvious that man’s inner ache is an ache for God.
There is a brokenness and a wound on every human being and it is a wound that is the result of separation from God. Even in the atheist’s cry, “Show me proof of God!” you can see the wound of the human heart that cries out to again see God face to face. Right now the billions across the planet are putting various bandage on the wound of their heart, but they are dressing a wound that is not healed but only continues to fester.
…that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth-in Him. – Ephesians 1:10 (NKJV)
Only the intercession of Jesus can heal the wound of man and create a doorway for the fulfillment of man’s ultimate desire. Only the God-man can give us access to our own desire while fulfilling the desire of God. This is why God is going to gather up all things on heaven and earth in Jesus. That gathering is the gathering of all desire. The desire of the heavens and the desire of the earth will intersect in the man Jesus and have their full expression. He will express the fullness of God’s desire towards us, which also expressing the fullness of our desire for the Father. Both sides of His being are swallowed up in desire and this is why He ever lives to make intercession for us.
…Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions…who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God – Hebrews 1:9;12:2 (NKJV)
What joy Jesus’ work of intercession is! There is no way we can comprehend the depths of joy that exists within Jesus as He experiences the full measure of God’s desire for us, the full measure of our desire for God, and the full satisfaction of both those desires. It is for this reason that He intercedes for us continually. This joy was worth His suffering and it is why He loves His work of intercession and will continue it forever. Let us enter into the joy of our Master by fully responding to His work of intercession.
Watch for part two of “Living Before the Throne.”