When I was a teenager, I had a ’79 ‘Vette. It was a Chevette, but still. I parked it on the street in all of its USSR standard gray glory. The reverse didn’t work. It would pop out of second gear. The speakers sat in the back seat and pumped out White Lion at 100 watts. The black vinyl melted away human flesh in August. The speedometer only read up to 80.
Believe it or not, I was not popular.
One night I was in my room (probably reading a book) when I heard something outside that sounded like a crash. I looked out my window and saw a car speeding off. That’s when I noticed a huge A-frame sign lying on the roof of my car and large rocks on my hood and roof.
I ran outside and saw that someone had used the rocks to prop up a sign from a car wash on the roof of the Matt-mobile. One rock had rolled down onto the hood, leaving scratches, dents and a busted windshield in its wake. I can’t remember if this happened before or after they egged my car.
I think I’ve already pointed out how unpopular I was.
What’s memorable about all this, though, is how the father of one of these boys called my dad and profusely apologized, asking for my dad’s forgiveness. It was clear he was doing this on behalf of his son, the jerk.
I thought of this story when I read Joel 2:17, which tells of the priests crying out to God for forgiveness on behalf of the people. It is a powerful picture, especially when you think about how the priests represented God on earth. Those priests were in charge of worship. They were key players when it came to the sacrificial system and prayer. They were in the business of calling the people to repentance and holding out the promise of forgiveness. That is what Joel calls them to in this verse.
I also thought about Jesus.
I thought about how when we repent of our sins and turn toward God, according to Hebrews 7:25, Jesus “lives to make intercession” for us. This is true whether we are repenting for the first time or, as my son says, the “bajillionth” time.
Surely, that jerk kid whose dad called my dad spent at least a moment wishing he had not done what he had done. And there was his dad, interceding for him. I was filled with hate back then because it punctuated the loneliness I felt in school. But now when I think about that story, I can follow a line from that kid’s father’s phone call up into the heavens where I know the Son is interceding for me. Jesus does for me what that boy’s father did for him. He intercedes. We are not left alone in our repentance.
Theologians talk about the place of faith in repentance. Here it is. When you lie in bed at night and look back over the day and feel the weight of moral failure and missed opportunities for kindness, you can repent knowing that Jesus, the One Who has pardoned you and finished the work of forgiveness on the cross, is interceding for you with His Dad.
We are not left alone in repentance. Jesus Christ lives to make intercession for us.
Written By Matthew B. Redmond