On the day after Valentine’s Day, love is still in the air for many. But for others, love may seem elusive or bring up a mixture of strong emotions.
As followers of Christ, we know that God loves us, but sometimes we struggle to connect to His love in our everyday lives.
If this is you, please keep reading!
Jesus’ Ongoing Ministry of Love
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
~ John 15:13
Many Christians know and love this verse from John 15:13. Jesus’s death on behalf of sinners demonstrates the amazing, unearnable, sacrificial love of God for us. But sometimes, we look to the cross as the epitome of love (which it is!) and forget that Jesus didn’t stop ministering to Christians when He died and rose from the dead. He continues to love us each day through His ongoing ministry of intercession.
Before we look at what the Bible says, what is intercession? Webster’s dictionary defines intercession as: “prayer, petition, or entreaty in favor of another” or “the act of interceding.” To take it one step further, Websters defines interceding as “to intervene between parties to reconcile differences.”
This second definition, “to intervene between parties to reconcile differences,” will help us understand Jesus’ ongoing prayers for us.
In the Old Testament, the priests represented the people to God, offered sacrifices on their behalf, and mediated the benefits of God’s covenant to them. And one day each year, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest went into the holy of holies in the Temple, behind the curtain, to represent the people before God and atone for their sins (see Leviticus 16). The only problem was that the high priests were sinners too. First, the high priest had to offer a sacrifice for his sin before offering sacrifices for the people (see Lev. 16:6-11).
Also, the priests would offer incense to God, burning it day and night on the altar of incense, which stood right outside the holy of holies. Then, God would meet with the High Priest once a year on the Day of Atonement (see Exod. 30:1-10) with the incense cloud filling the holy of holies and rising before the people. This sweet-smelling cloud rising day and night to God symbolized God’s presence among His people, as well as the priests’ intercessory prayers for the people continually rising to God (Rev. 5:8).
This may be a bit dull and technical, but it’s essential to understand why Jesus’ ongoing ministry of prayer for us is so amazing!
God’s holiness and our sinfulness have created a deep chasm that no one can cross. In other words, we have some significant irreconcilable differences! That’s why God the Father sent Jesus to reconcile us to Him.
Jesus’s intercession has two parts: 1) His substitutional death for us was an intercessory death; 2) His ongoing prayers for us represent His ongoing activity as our great High Priest.
Check out these awesome verses about Jesus’ intercession:
- In Isaiah 53:12, which foretells Jesus’s sacrificial death for us, Isaiah says: “He bore the sin of many and interceded for the transgressors.” His death was the ultimate form of intercession, but Jesus continues it today by praying for the blessings of salvation to transform us to become more like Him each day.
- Second Corinthians 5:18-19 says, “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”
- As our perfect, sinless High Priest, who fulfilled the Old Covenant and initiated the New Covenant, Jesus continually prays for us. Hebrews 7:25 says, “Therefore he can save completely those who come to God through him because he always lives to intercede for them.”
Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have received salvation and forgiveness, and have the assurance that when we die, we will be with Him forever. But between now and then, we can grow in Christlikeness and intimacy with God, and help others to be reconciled to God. I believe that’s what Jesus is praying for right now.
What is Jesus praying for?
After reminding believers that God works all things for the good of His will and our sanctification (Rom. 8:28), and that in love God the Father freely gave His own Son to die in our places on the cross (Rom. 8:32), the Apostle Paul said these mind-blowing words in Romans 8:34: “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”
Did you see that? As you read this blog, if you’re a Christ-follower, Jesus is praying for you right now!
When we face our greatest struggles against sin, Jesus prays for us, standing in our place at the Father’s right hand, actively administering grace and strength to resist temptation. Remember, in exchange for your sin, Jesus has given you His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 5:17). And He’s praying that you will begin to live in accordance with His righteousness more and more each day.
In His earthly ministry, Jesus prayed for Peter. As they shared their last meal together before His death, Jesus said to Peter, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32).
Not only did Jesus pray for Peter to remain strong in the face of temptation, Jesus also prayed that after Peter stumbled, he would have the ability to use his failure to strengthen others. This shows that even when horrible things happen to us, and even when we sin, Jesus’ prayers give us the ability to trust God to use these bad things for good (see Rom. 8:28).
Honestly, this is where the rubber hits the road.
Yes, we have received forgiveness for every sin – past, present, and future. But when trials and temptations hit us, it’s hard to obey. However, we have an Advocate, a defender praying for us to stand strong and choose obedience instead of sin. Even when we fail, Jesus stands at the Father’s right hand praying for God to bring good from it.
First John 2:1 says, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.”
Whether you’re struggling with sin or find it difficult to believe God loves you, remember that if you’re a Christ-follower, Jesus is praying for you right now. And remember these comforting words from Hebrews 4:14-16:
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,
Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have
a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one
who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
But don’t just keep these truths to yourself. Share them with others and intercede for them so that they might be reconciled with God too.
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