I had the privilege a couple of years ago to address my childhood hometown of Tea, SD. The Tea Historical Society contacted me and said they were interested in hearing about my childhood in Tea, and how I became a writer. I said ‘yes’ that I’d like to do that, and then I got together with my parents for a good long talk about those days.
You know, we had the craziest neighbors in that little town, so crazy in fact that we had to call the county sheriff on them many, many times—we got to know that sheriff pretty well—and, incidentally, a few years after we’d moved from Tea, South Dakota, into Sioux Falls, I met the sheriff’s sister-in-law’s step-brother—and I married him. BUT, that’s not the story I’m here to tell you today.
Visiting with my parents that day about my childhood home, brought back a lot of wonderful memories, but what I remember most is what I learned while I lived in that tiny little town. And as it turned out, when I went to speak to the Historical Society, they are located inside my childhood church! The congregation grew too large for the old church, and when they moved out of it into their new building, they donated the old one to the Tea Historical Society. Part of the church is now a really neat little museum, and the other part is still a fellowship hall where gatherings are held on a regular basis.
That church was only about 1 ½ blocks down the road from where lived. We moved there in the early seventies, when gas was super expensive, like 95 cents a gallon or something. Dad decided that we could walk to church instead of drive. And we walked to that church every Sunday and I learned to love the Lord. If it wasn’t for my parents planting those seeds within me, I know I wouldn’t be writing this today—telling you one of my favorite stories—it’s about an advocate.
Have you ever read Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers? The Three Musketeers is a fabulous story. Easily my favorite. I love the drama, the religious overtones and the politics of the crooked shadow government of France in the early 1600’s. Disney made an excellent movie in 1993, and there is a scene in that movie that depicts exactly what an advocate is NOT.
The musketeer, Athos, (and Athos is played by Keifer Sutherland—this is, of course, before Keifer became Jack Bauer) but he relates a poignant story about “The Good Count.”
When the good Count was [young], he fell in love with a visitor from Paris. [Her name was Sabine.] A breathtaking girl…and …he married her. The Count took her to his castle and made her the first lady of the province. They were happy… Then one day, while riding in the woods, the girl was thrown from her horse, and knocked unconscious. The Count hurried to help her. Her dress was torn.
On her arm, the woman wore a gold band in the shape of a serpent. It was the only article of clothing she refused to remove. The Count’s curiosity got the best of him. He reached over and slid down the gold band. He saw something on her arm… something she’d kept hidden ’til then…The fleur d’lis. She’d been branded…The Count’s angel [appeared] to be a murderess who’d escaped the Executioner’s blade. She swore that she loved him. [Swore that she’d been misaccused.] And if he would just keep her secret, they would live a long life together.
Rather than believe the love that she professed for him, rather than believe the beautiful life they must have shared up to that point, and despite their marital intimacy, the Count couldn’t bring himself to believe her, and he turned her over to the authorities.
Please read this account from the gospel of John:
2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:2-8:11
Wow…this woman is literally caught in the act—and yet Jesus stood up for her. Do you know what that’s called? It’s called being an “advocate.”
Advocate—defined by Miriam Webster’s: one that pleads the cause of another; 2 : one that defends or maintains a cause or proposal 3 : one that supports or promotes the interests of another
John, the same apostle who wrote the account (and I say account because John was an eye-witness to the event—John 1:14 “we have seen His glory…”) about the adulteress, writes another letter later on to the church and says, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ the Righteous One.”
Though we are free to choose a sinful lifestyle and ignore the forgiveness and advocacy of Jesus Christ, He still freely offers it to anyone.
As The Three Musketeers plays out, it turns out that Athos is actually The Good Count who turned his beloved over to authorities, and he gets the opportunity to talk to her about it. By this time it’s been many years, and her name has been changed to Lady D’Winter.
Lady D’Winter confronts Athos, “You were too proud to listen to the truth. I learned the value of lies soon after. There was a time when I would’ve given my life for a kind word.”
Athos was a count, and in the 1600’s in France, he would have been a wealthy man. He could have easily been an advocate for his wife, pleading her cause before an unrighteous court—and she would have given him her very life for that kind word.
And Athos admits, “I could not give it, Sabine. I was a fool.”
And while Athos didn’t think his own wife was worthwhile to put up his kingdom and all of his wealth in order to defend her honor, there is an Advocate who thought we were worthwhile, even before He created us, to do just that—and our Advocate is far more powerful than an apathetic, judgmental French Count.
John, wrote this about Jesus Christ, “to all who received Him, to those who believed in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12
When we repent of our sins and ask Jesus for forgiveness, Jesus takes all those sins and “removes them” from us. Psalm 103:12 “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” And not only does he remove our sin from us, but He forgets it as well. Isaiah 43:25 “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”
He is a forgetful, as well as a forgiving God, when it comes to our sin.
Through His forgiveness, Jesus wipes the slate clean, so to speak. We become children of God—co-heirs with Christ Himself, and will receive an inheritance on Judgment Day.
Unlike Athos, who’d hung his wife out to dry, Jesus stands up for us and pleads our cause. Like the woman caught in adultery, or Mary Magdalene, who had 7 demons, Jesus comes to our side and says, “Neither do I condemn you—now go from this place and sin no more.”
But remember, if you do sin, we have an advocate.
Beloved, that’s grace.
© 2017, Ta`Mara Hanscom
Read an excerpt from my books at TaMaraHanscomBooks.com