Christ The Intercessor
By Andrew Murray
“But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not” (Luke 22:32)
“I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you” (John 16:26)
“He ever liveth to make intercession” (Heb. 7:25)
All growth in the spiritual life is connected with clearer insight into what Jesus is to us. The more I realize that Christ must be all to me and in me, and that all in Christ is indeed for me, the more I learn to live the real life of faith, which is dying to self and living wholly in Christ. The Christian life is no longer the vain struggle to live right, but resting in Christ and finding strength in Him as our life, to fight the fight and gain the victory of faith.
This is especially true of the life of prayer. It, too, comes under the law of faith alone and is seen in the light of the fullness and completeness there is in Jesus. Prayer need no longer be a matter of strain or anxious care. It can be an experience of what Christ will do for the believer and in him, a participation in that life of Christ which, as on earth, so in heaven, ever ascends to the Father as prayer. He begins to pray, not only trusting in the merits of Jesus or the intercession by which our unworthy prayers are made acceptable, but in that near and close union in which He prays in us and we in Him.
(Notice the difference between having Christ as an intercessor who stands outside of us, and having Him within us. We abiding in Him and He in us through the Holy Spirit perfecting our union with Him so that we ourselves come directly to the Father in His name. From Beck of Tübingen.)
The whole of salvation is Christ Himself. He has given Himself to us. He Himself lives in us. Because He prays, we pray too. As the disciples saw Jesus pray, they asked Him to make them partakers of what He knew of prayer. Now that we see Him as intercessor on the throne, we know that He makes us participate with Himself in the life of prayer.
How clearly this comes out in the last night of His life. In His high priestly prayer (John 17), He shows us how and what He has to pray to the Father and will pray when once ascended to heaven. Yet He had in His parting address repeatedly connected His going to the Father with their new life of prayer. The two would be ultimately connected. His entrance on the work of His eternal intercession would be the commencement and the power of their new prayer life in His name. It is the sight of Jesus in His intercession that gives us power to pray in His name; all right and power of prayer is Christ’s. He makes us share in His intercession.
To understand this, think first of His intercession. He ever liveth to make intercession. The work of Christ on earth as priest was but a beginning. It was as Aaron He shed His blood; it is as Melchizedek that He now lives within the veil to continue His work after the power of the eternal life. As Melchizedek is more glorious than Aaron, so it is in the work of intercession that the atonement has its true power and glory.
“It is Christ that died, yea more, who is even at the right hand of God, who maketh intercession for us.” That intercession is an intense reality, a work that is absolutely necessary. Without it the continued application of redemption could not take place. In the incarnation and resurrection of Jesus, the wondrous reconciliation took place by which man became partaker of the divine life and blessedness. But the real personal appropriation of this reconciliation in each of His members here below cannot take place without the unceasing exercise of His divine power by the head in heaven.
In all conversion and sanctification, in every victory over sin and the world, there is a real putting forth of the power of Him who is mighty to save. This exercise of His power only takes place through His prayer. He asks of the Father and receives from the Father. “He is able to save to the uttermost because He ever liveth to make intercession.” There is not a need of His people but He receives in intercession what the Godhead has to give. His mediation on the throne is as real and indispensable as on the cross. Nothing takes place without His intercession. It engages all His time and powers. It is His unceasing occupation at the right hand of the Father.
We participate not only in the benefits of this His work, but in the work itself. This is because we are His body. Body and members are one. “The head cannot say to the feet, I have no need of thee.” We share with Jesus in all He is and has. “The glory which Thou gavest Me, I have given them.” We are partakers of His life, His righteousness, His work. We share with Him in His intercession too; it is not a work He does without us.
We do this because we are partakers of His life. “Christ is our life.” “No longer I, but Christ liveth in me.” The life in Him and in us is identical, one and the same. His life in heaven is an ever-praying life. When it descends and takes possession of us, it does not lose its character. In us too it is the ever-praying life, a life that without ceasing asks and receives from God. It is not as if there were two separate currents of prayer rising upward, one from Him and one from His people. No, the substantial life union is also prayer union. What He prays passes through us, what we pray passes through Him. He is the angel with the golden censer. “Unto Him there was given much incense.” The secret of acceptable prayer is “that He should add it unto the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar.” We live, we abide in Him, the interceding One.
The only-begotten is the only one who has the right to pray. To Him alone it was said, “Ask, and it shall be given Thee.” As in all other things, the fullness dwells in Him, so the true prayer fullness too. He alone has the power of prayer. The growth of the spiritual life consists in the clearer insight that all the treasures are in Him and that we too are in Him. We are to receive each moment what we possess in Him, grace for grace.
So it is with the prayer life too. Our faith in the intercession of Jesus must not only be that He prays in our stead when we do not or cannot pray, but that, as the author of our life and our faith, He draws us on to pray in unison with Himself. Our prayer must be a work of faith in this sense too. As we know that Jesus communicates His whole life in us, He also breathes into us our praying, out of that prayerfulness which is His alone.
To many a believer it was a new epoch in his spiritual life when it was revealed to him how truly and entirely Christ was his life. Christ stands good as surety for the believer’s remaining faithful and obedient. It was then that he first really began to live a faith life. No less blessed will be the discovery that Christ is surety for our prayer life too. He is the center and embodiment of all prayer, to be communicated by Him through the Holy Spirit to His people.
“He ever liveth to make intercession” as the head of the body, as the leader in that new and living way, which He has opened up as the author and the perfecter of our faith. He provides in everything for the life of His redeemed ones by giving His own life in them. He cares for their life of prayer by taking them up into His heavenly prayer life, by giving and maintaining His prayer life within them. “I have prayed for thee,” not to render your faith needless, but “that your faith fail not.” Our faith and prayer of faith is rooted in His. It is, “If ye abide in Me,” the ever-living intercessor, and pray with Me and in Me, “ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”
The thought of our fellowship in the intercession of Jesus reminds us of what He taught us more than once before – how all these wonderful prayer promises have as their aim and their justification the glory of God in the manifestation of His kingdom and the salvation of sinners. As long as we pray only for ourselves, the promises of the last night must remain a sealed book to us. The promises are given to the fruit-bearing branches of the vine and to disciples sent into the world as the Father sent Him, to live for perishing men. The promises are given to His faithful servants and intimate friends who take up the work He leaves behind, who have, like their Lord, become as the seed-corn, losing its life to multiply it manifold.
Let us each find out what the work is, and who the souls are entrusted to our special prayers. Let us make intercession for them our life of fellowship with God. We shall then not only find the promises of power in prayer made true to us, but we shall then begin to realize how our abiding in Christ and His abiding in us makes us share in His own joy of blessing and saving men.
O most wonderful intercession of our Blessed Lord Jesus, to which we not only owe everything, but in which we are taken up as active partners and fellow workers! Now we understand what it is to pray in the name of Jesus, and why it has such power. In His name, in His Spirit, in Himself, in perfect union with Him. O wondrous, ever-active, and most efficacious intercession of the man Christ Jesus! When shall we be wholly taken up into it, and always pray in it?
Blessed Lord, in lowly adoration I would again bow before Thee. Thy whole redemption work has now passed into prayer. All that now occupies Thee in maintaining and dispensing what Thou didst purchase with Thy blood is prayer. Thou ever livest to pray. Because we abide in Thee, the direct access to the Father is always open. Our life can be one of unceasing prayer, and the answer to our prayer is sure.
Blessed Lord, Thou hast invited Thy people to be Thy fellow workers in a life of prayer. Thou hast united Thyself with Thy people and makest them as Thy body share with Thee in that ministry of intercession through which alone the world can be filled with the fruit of Thy redemption and the glory of the Father. With more liberty than ever I come to Thee, my Lord, and beseech Thee, teach me to pray. Thy life is prayer, Thy life is mine. Lord, teach me to pray, in Thee, like Thee.
O, my Lord, give me especially to know, as Thou didst promise Thy disciples, that Thou art in the Father, and I in Thee, and Thou in me. Let the uniting power of the Holy Spirit make my whole life an abiding in Thee and Thy intercession, so that my prayer may be its echo. Then the Father will hear me in Thee and Thee in me. Lord Jesus, let Thy mind in everything be in me and my life in everything be in Thee. So shall I be prepared to be the channel through which the intercession pours its blessing on the world. Amen.