We’ve certainly seen some unusual things in America this past year, and the list grew a few weeks ago when three UCLA students were arrested in China for shoplifting. They faced the specter of five to ten years in a Chinese prison, but fortunately the U.S. president was in China last month. President Trump convinced Chinese President Xi Jinping to drop the charges and send the young men home.
Now our president has a habit of tweeting multiple times on issues, and he did after this event when he reminded the students to thank him. I believe one request was probably enough, but the president didn’t ask my opinion. Nevertheless, the students held a press conference and did thank both presidents, their coach and their school, as they should have.
It occurred to me that this incident has a biblical parallel.
President Trump spoke up on the men’s behalf, so he was their advocate.
The scripture declares that advocacy is one ministry of Jesus Christ. The apostle John wrote, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ the Righteous One” (1 John 2:1).
John said that Christ comes before the judge of the universe, the one who demands obedience to his laws and precepts, and pleads for mercy for us unworthy sinners. He is our advocate.
But the Bible further teaches Christ to be our redeemer. The same apostle John also wrote, “And they sang a new song: You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because You were slaughtered, and You redeemed people for God by Your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9).
In this analogy, President Trump would have been a redeemer had he offered to go to prison for the UCLA students, to take their rightful punishment so that they might be free. Of course, this is a bit ludicrous to imagine, and it didn’t take place.
But think of our savior who not only pleads our case before the heavenly father, but also was obedient “even unto death” as the apostle Paul wrote. Jesus went to the cross as an innocent victim bearing the sins of the world. The unblemished lamb of God took your sins and mine on himself so that we might know forgiveness and acceptance from God.
When we think of Christ as both advocate and redeemer, we marvel at God’s love. And we learn afresh the earnest desire of God that everyone come to him for forgiveness and salvation. He’s demonstrated this love by paving the way to heaven for us all.