What Does It Mean for Jesus to Be Our Advocate?

“Woman, where are those thine accusers?” (John 8:10)

An advocate is someone who pleads for or promotes your cause.

The term comes from the Latin word advocatus, which is a combination of ad (“to”) and vocatus (“called”) (Online Etymology Dictionary). An advocate is a person you would call to your side to defend you when you are under attack.

The apostle John identified Jesus as our advocate: “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 1:2). The Greek word which is translated “advocate” in that passage is parakletos (παράκλητος), and it has similar roots: para (παρά) means “close beside” or “in the presence of,” and kletos (κλητός) means “called” or “invited.” A parakletos is a person who you have invited to be nearby so that they can help you and support you.

At the Last Supper, when Jesus informed the apostles that He would no longer be with them, they were understandably anxious. “Whither goest thou?” asked Peter. “Why cannot I follow thee now?” (John 13:36-37).

In response, the Savior reassured them that they would not be alone:

If ye love me, keep my commandments.
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
Even the Spirit of truth (John 14:15-17).

The Greek word which is translated “Comforter” in this passage is parakletos. Some other translations of the Bible render it “Advocate,” “Helper,” or “Counselor.” The message is clear: They looked to Him as an advocate, but He would no longer be with them. So Heavenly Father would send them another Advocate, who would be with them, plead for them, and promote their cause: the Holy Ghost.

And the Savior used the word parakletos three other times during that message, all in reference to the Holy Ghost:

  • “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26, NIV).
  • “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me” (John 15:26, NIV).
  • “It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7, NIV).

The Holy Ghost functions as an advocate for us. He can be with us, provide support and guidance, and plead with the Father on our behalf. (See Romans 8:26). But we haven’t lost our first advocate. As Mormon taught:

Christ hath ascended into heaven, and hath sat down on the right hand of God, to claim of the Father his rights of mercy….
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 (Moroni 7:27-28).

Christ earned “rights of mercy” by enduring unimaginable suffering on our behalf. He may be physically distant from us, but He is aware of us and is pleading our cause. In a revelation received by Joseph Smith on March 7, 1831, the Savior declared:

Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him—
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;
Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life (Doctrine & Covenants 45:3-5).

Today, I will be grateful that the Savior is my advocate, that He is on my team, championing my cause. I will also remember that, in His absence, Heavenly Father has given me another advocate, the Holy Ghost, who comforts me, gives me counsel and guidance, and pleads my cause.

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