I served as a magistrate for about 10 years and watched with interest the various solicitors who represented their clients in court. There was one that I will call Mr Toad because he resembled a large fat toad watching unblinkingly as the prosecutor presented the case against the defendant. If I ever get into trouble with the law I want Mr Toad to defend me. Many a time I would listen to the prosecution case and wonder how on earth Mr Toad could combat the seemingly irrefutable evidence. But then he would slowly rise and with a wide smile on his amphibian-like face he would set about his work. Twisting a fact here, planting an insinuation there, continually pressing and harrying witnesses he would eventually generate enough cracks in the edifice constructed by the prosecution and create enough doubt in the minds of the magistrates that a ‘Not Guilty’ verdict ensued.
In contrast, the last solicitor I would ask to represent me shall be known as Mr Bumble. Always wearing a shapeless grey suit two sizes too big for him that looked as if it hadn’t been pressed since Rumpole was a lad, he would come into court and look around him in bewildered fashion as if he had never been in the place before. With dishevelled hair and tie askew, he would rummage through the large heap of files in front of him and eventually flourish one in triumph only to be told that was not the case we were hearing today.
Then there was ‘Mr Smooth’ – in a smart pinstripe suit, crisp white shirt and red braces he looked the part even though his swept back hair was a little too long to be fashionable. He strutted up and down the court room as if it were a stage and he Olivier. Unfortunately, his judicial tactics seemed to be limited and his defence usually culminated in ‘Your Worships will appreciate that my client is not the most intellectual of men (or women)’.
I think of these characters when I read in D&C 45:3 ‘Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him—‘ An advocate is one who presents a case on someone else’s behalf. It is the advocate’s role to present our case in its most favourable light, challenging the claims of the prosecution who presents our case in its worst possible light.
Who is our advocate with the Father?
D&C 45 goes on to tell us: 4 Saying: Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified; 5 Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life.
Why do we need an advocate? Because we are guilty! ‘For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23). With such an open and shut case we need a great advocate to get us off.
Elder Tad Callister in his book The Infinite Atonement ( a must-read book) says: “The Savior pleads our case for mercy. He is our advocate. He is the champion of our cause as no other can be. We have seen advocates of law before earthly tribunals-mere mortals who have argued their cases with spellbinding suspense, whose logic was flawless, mastery of the laws disarming, and powerful petitions compelling. Before such mortals, juries have sat in awe, almost with breathless wonder, moved and swayed by every glance, every crafted word, every passionate plea. Yet such advocates, almost Herculean heroes to their patrons, are no match to Him who pleads our case on high. He is the perfect proponent ‘to appear in the presence of God for us’ (Hebrews 9:24). How fortunate we are that he is our ‘advocate with the Father’ (1 John 2:1).” (Tad R. Callister, The Infinite Atonement, 317-318)
But Jesus is a most unusual advocate in that he does not maintain His client’s innocence but rather acknowledges our guilt. He does not seek to get us off on a technicality or make excuses for our sin. He pleads our case on His rather than our merits. See verse 4 again: 4 Saying: Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified;
Alma says in the Book of Mormon, that He has suffered “pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind … , that he may know … how to succor his people according to their infirmities.” (Alma 7:11-12). Through the atonement Jesus Christ knows us all intimately, he has suffered for all our sins, infirmities and weaknesses and understands us all individually.’ Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.’ (Hebrews 7:25)
What do we have to do to engage the services of this unique advocate? The answer is in verse 5 and in Moroni: D&C 45: 5 ‘Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life.’
Moroni 7:28: ‘For he hath answered the ends of the law, and he claimeth all those who have faith in him; and they who have faith in him will cleave unto every good thing; wherefore he advocateth the cause of the children of men; and he dwelleth eternally in the heavens.’
So next time you see a courtroom drama on TV or read the latest John Grisham best seller remember that divine advocate who says “I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father” (D&C 110:4).