Before Jesus Christ was born, even before the world began, Jesus Christ committed Himself to taking on the role of our advocate to the Father. An advocate is someone who pleads for another person.
John explained this role in 1 John, chapter 2 of the King James Bible:
1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
God is a just God. He’s given us laws we’re expected to obey. However, He is also a loving God and He knows us perfectly. Because of this, He knows we will not keep all the laws and will sin during our life. Justice would require us to be punished for every sin, including the punishment of being unable to return to God’s presence. The scriptures teach us no unclean thing can enter into God’s presence. Since it would be impossible for any fully mortal person to refrain from sin, God lovingly provided a Savior for us. This allows justice to be tempered with mercy.
This was done prior to the creation of the world. God created the spirits of all those who lived, and we lived with Him for a while in a premortal existence. There we developed our personalities and talents and learned about the gospel. Since we were ourselves, some were righteous and some were not. After a time, God told us we had progressed as far as we could in that spirit life, and would now have an opportunity to go to a new home, where we’d be given a family and a body, and would have an opportunity to have experiences and trials. During this time, we were expected to seek, find, and then live by the truth. If we lived the truth we knew, we could return to Him someday. However, knowing we’d not be perfect, the law was tempered by mercy. He offered to send us a Savior. Jesus Christ volunteered to do this for us.
Jesus was the first Spirit created by God, and so He is our oldest brother. He offered to come to earth and live a sinless life. Only He could do this, because He would come not as the child of two mortal parents, but as the child of a mortal mother and a Heavenly Father. This combination of mortal and divine would allow Him to experience the things we experienced as mortals, and to die, but would also allow Him to live sinlessly and to choose death, rather than to have it forced on him as mortals do. No one would be able to take His life. He would give it as a gift. Just before His death, He would take on Himself all the sins of the world and then die for us. This satisfied the demands of justice, and tempered it with mercy.
After our deaths, it will be Jesus who will judge us. Because He lived here on earth and shared our experiences, and because He is the one who atoned for our sins, He’s qualified to do this.
22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son. (John 5:22)
In turn, He will assign judgment to those who were our leaders in our own lifetime-the Twelve Apostles judging those who lived in their time, for instance, because they have a fuller understanding of the special challenges of their own lifetimes. But it is the Savior who will be the final judge and our advocate to God, pleading our case for mercy to temper justice. His atoning sacrifice gives Him the right to do this. His judgment will be completely fair. The Bible is clear in our responsibility for keeping the commandments:
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21, KJV of the Bible)
Our responsibility, then, is to seek out the truth, learn to live it, and repent when we fall short. When we’ve done the best we can, the Savior will make up the difference.
In the Great Intercessory Prayer, Jesus demonstrated this role for us:
6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.
9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. (John 17)
Terrie Lynn Bittner
Terrie Lynn Bittner is the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that have appeared in LDS magazines. She is married to Lincoln Bittner and is the mother of three grown children and grandmother to two girls. Terrie became a Mormon at the age of seventeen and has been sharing her faith online since 1992. She can also be found blogging about being an LDS woman at LatterdaySaintWoman.com.