For those of you who do not know, my ambition in college was to be a lawyer. I earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in Political Science from Messiah College with a Pre-Law emphasis. I used to dream of the day I would stand before the judge as an advocate for someone falsely accused of a crime. And in my mind, through incredible intellectual acumen, shrewd powers of reason, through breath-taking discourse and keen verbal jousting, I would secure a non-guilty verdict for my imaginary client. I decided I would have Perry Mason’s ability to stage a late in the proceedings court-room coup, the folksiness of Matlock, and the ruthless unconventional nature of Jack McCoy. I would always ask the right question at just the right time.
But my calling took a different turn, and I was never able to ask any of those probing questions at just the right time to spring my client free. Perhaps it’s a good thing, because as I looked at some real life questions this week asked by attorneys in a court of law, I realized that perhaps asking the right question is not always as easy as it looks.
Here are my top five questions asked by real lawyers in real courts of law.
- “Now doctor, isn’t it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn’t know about it until the next morning?”
- “You were there until the time you left, is that true?”
- Q: “Can you describe the individual?”
A: “He was about medium height and had a beard.”
Q: “Was this a male or female?”
- Q: “Doctor, how many autopsies have you performed on dead people?”
A: “All my autopsies are performed on dead people.”
- Q: “Do you recall the time that you examined the body?”
A: “The autopsy started around 8:30 p.m.”
Q: “And Mr. Dennington was dead at the time?”
A: “No, he was sitting on the table wondering why I was doing an autopsy.”
I wonder whose side is some of these lawyers really on! But I’m not here today to go on about earthly lawyers, because there is an Advocate today, standing before the Judge of the Universe, pleading on your behalf.
Jesus the Advocate
John MacArthur wrote, “People in contemporary society are hooked on courtroom dramas. Television shows and movies dealing with crime and trials hold people spellbound. There are even cable and satellite channels that broadcast such programming full-time. Thousands avidly follow the latest high-profile trials, turning them into the judicial system’s offer of entertainment, pandering to this jaded culture’s appetite” (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: 1-3 John, p. 43).
But all the legal shenanigans, all the courtroom drama, all the verbal jousting, is utterly meaningless compared to the on-going legal drama that faces the souls of mankind! You see, all of humanity has been arrested and charged with the crime of turning our backs on God by pursuing selfish interests, with violating God’s Holy Law with our sinful actions, and of committing treason against the High Court of Heaven.
Television has made very clear what happens when a person is arrested. They are read some form warning or information regarding their rights as an accused. What happens in the Cosmic Courtroom?
1 John 2:1,2 says, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have One who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for[a] the sins of the whole world.”
1 John 2:1 begins with a warm greeting. John is no longer addressing the Gnostics, he has turned his attention to the church. “My dear children, I am writing these things so that you do not sin, but if you do sin…know that you have someone who speaks in your defense.”
In our legally savy society, we are programmed to consider the rights of the accused. Perhaps there is no more familiar protection granted to the accused than the Miranda warnings.
The Miranda warnings were mandated by the 1966 United States Supreme Court decision in the case of Miranda v. Arizona as a means of protecting a criminal suspect’s Fifth Amendment right to avoid coercive self-incrimination. (Wikipedia)
Although the Supreme Court did not mandate the exact verbiage, the typical Miranda warning reads like this: You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. Do you understand these rights?
I find a certain irony in the Miranda warning. A group of judges put in place protection to guard the interests of the accused. The innocent judge, places a layer of protection for the accused, and then offers aid to the accused. A group of judges opened the door to provide an advocate, which would argue on behalf of the accused.
This one who speaks on behalf of the accused is known as an “advocate.” The word for advocate used here is the Greek word paraklaton. It is often translated in the English as “paraclete.” A literal translation of this word is “one called to the aid of the accused.” It is a legal term. Who called this attorney to your side? Jesus Christ!
When you were arrested by the Word of God or the Conviction of the Holy Spirit, any excuse you could give, any reason that you could offer, any defense you might conjure up would only be used to condemn you in a court of law. Your one plea is this: Lord have mercy on a sinner like me! You need an attorney. You need someone to step in on your behalf. You need someone to come to your rescue! You need an Advocate to argue in your defense. Friends, you have the right to have Jesus Christ present during your questioning! Jesus Christ is the Defense Attorney. He is the Counsel for the defense. He is your Legal Aid and Advocate. He came to your defense upon the Cross! He will come to your aid again!