I see Jesus as the Ultimate Advocate.
An advocate is defined as “one who pleads the cause of another specifically” or in another definition, “An advocate is someone that can help you speak up so that your needs are heard.” In short, an advocate stands up for you.
It’s understood that an advocate stands up for someone who can’t stand up for themselves––for example, when people are being wronged and potentially unfairly treated. And if we, as Christ-followers, want to emulate Jesus, we can and should advocate for people, too.
So, it is with that as a backdrop that I ask a few questions. Do you have someone in your life that you are advocating for? Do you sometimes see wrong being done to someone and hesitate to stand up for that someone? I ask you to join me in taking a look at one of my favorite examples of advocacy by Jesus in His ministry.
At dawn, he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now, what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again, he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:2-11
There is much to see in this scripture but what stands out to me are a few things.
First, I see Jesus treating the woman caught in adultery with dignity regardless of her circumstance and her type of sin. While the Pharisees focused on the law, Jesus was focused on the woman. It seemed that restoring dignity and advocating for the woman, getting others to look at themselves and not condemning her, was his starting point. By acknowledging the sin of the people in the crowd and not condemning them either, he stood up for everyone. What an amazing example we have in Jesus!
Here is a second thing I see. Jesus gave us a roadmap for how to stand up for someone. I get the sense of the following in this scripture:
- Jesus was calm in addressing everyone.
- In drawing on the ground before speaking, Jesus was patient and thoughtful about his approach.
- Jesus didn’t over-react.
- Jesus spoke with love and not accusation and condemnation to the adulterous woman and the crowd of sinners.
- Jesus left everyone in the situation with dignity and the opportunity to improve.
These are key takeaways for me to emulate Jesus if I am called to advocate for someone.
This topic was important for me to reflect on because I checked into a resort hotel two years ago and noticed a front desk clerk checking in another guest. The guest was foreign and had an accent. It made it difficult for the front desk clerk to understand the guest. The clerk proceeded to belittle and degrade the guest by saying in a harsh tone things like “I can’t understand a word you're saying”… and loudly saying other things that were offensive and embarrassing to the guest. I was appalled but stayed silent. That guest did not deserve to be treated that way.
I did not stand up for or advocate for the person being ridiculed and wronged, and it hurt me to my core. For a long time, I couldn’t get over it, and I told myself I wouldn’t let it happen again.
Since then, I have had other situations where I’ve had the chance to advocate for someone. And, in those situations, I have tried to emulate Jesus' example.
I have tried to be calm. I have tried to think about my approach. I have tried not to over-react. I have tried to act in love. I have tried to leave everyone in the situation with dignity. In short, again, I have tried to do my best to follow Jesus’ example.
At our core, we all want to be on the side of advocating for the people that Jesus loves. And, I think we all want to advocate for people the way Jesus did.
Once again, I ask you, do you have someone you are advocating for in your life? Do you sometimes see wrong being done to someone and hesitate to stand up for that someone? If so, perhaps you can think of John 8:2-11 as an example of advocacy that you can model.
After all, Jesus truly is the Ultimate Advocate. He died on the cross for the sins of the world and rose from the dead to save us all! Jesus is Savior and Lord and someone we can all emulate.
Lynn Utley is the wife of Marvin Utley, Mom, and Step-Mom of Kamryn and Logan. She is a 17-year member of North Central Church of Christ. Lynn currently works at Johnson and Johnson as an Account Manager and enjoys travel in her spare time.