Alongside (lessons taught/learned)

The normal waking order in our house is 1) Dad, 2) Son, 3) Mom. Today was no exception, even though I had been sick during the night.  I took some bismuth, felt bad from about 10:30 till 2:30, etc., etc.  Then I was awakened at 2:30 and, within minutes, did that thing we do when we have something toxic in the stomach that needs to come out.

It’s really an ingenious method, retching.  So powerful, so cleansing.  Beyond either philosophical admiration or revulsion, we can at least relate to the better feeling that comes just after.  I’m grateful to God for this necessary, powerful thing that our bodies do.

This morning about 8, I was explaining this whole thing to my son, because I figured it was easier for the two boys to talk about the gross stuff than to depend on the mom to lay it out in detail.  I figured that I wanted Jedd to know something about this — he hasn’t thrown up since a handful of gentle expulsions of infant days — preparing him, so he might be less scared when it happens to him.

I told him how bad it feels for a while, and I told him what happens, and I told him how gross it is, and he giggled a little.  Then I told him that you feel better after it is over.  I told him that if he feels like this, he just needs to go to the bathroom and call for Mom or me, and we will be there beside him to help him.  I told him that Mom came in to see if I needed help last night.

He thought, and he commented, almost regretfully,

J: “Well, I didn’t even hear you.”
Me: “That’s OK, son — I’m glad I didn’t wake you up.”
J: “But I would come beside you to help, too.”

And this is one of the many reasons I both love and like my son.  He is a treasure.

It’s a stretch, but the image of the “Parakletos” comes to mind here:  in scripture, there is One who is pictured, partly, as “One called alongside to help.”  This depiction is unique to John’s writings and refers alternately to the Son and the Spirit/Indwelling Essence of God.  Although the word’s antecedent image is more legal than tenderly relational, I’d like to share it here, in hope that someone (like me) might be touched by the similarity of having one alongside in times of a) physical need and b) spiritual need.

My dear children, I write this letter to you so you will not sin.  But if anyone does sin, we have a Helper (Advocate, One called alongside to help, to speak for) in the presence of the Father—Jesus Christ, the One who does what is right.  (1 John 2:2)


The following note is available on the NetBible site,!bible/1+John+2, by clicking the reference superscript 3 after the word “advocate” in the text:

The description of the Holy Spirit as “Paraclete” is unique to the Gospel of John (14:16, 26; 15:26; and 16:7). Here, in the only other use of the word in the NT, it is Jesus, not the Spirit, who is described as παράκλητος (paraklhto”). The reader should have been prepared for this interchangeability of terminology, however, by John 14:16, where Jesus told the disciples that he would ask the Father to send them ‘another’ paraclete (ἄλλοςallos, “another of the same kind”). This implies that Jesus himself had been a paraclete in his earthly ministry to the disciples. This does not answer all the questions about the meaning of the word here, though, since it is not Jesus’ role as an advocate during his earthly ministry which is in view, but his role as an advocate in heaven before the Father. The context suggests intercession in the sense of legal advocacy, as stress is placed upon the righteousness of Jesus (᾿Ιησοῦν Χριστὸν δίκαιον). The concept of Jesus’ intercession on behalf of believers does occur elsewhere in the NT, notably in Rom 8:34 and Heb 7:25. Something similar is taking place here, and is the best explanation of 1 John 2:1. An English translation like “advocate” or “intercessor” conveys this.


2 thoughts on “Alongside (lessons taught/learned)

  1. Susan Peterson 11/03/2013 / 8:13 pm

    Thank you.
    I hope I never cease to be amazed at the voluntary nearness of God to us. That He would come to be “with us” and acquire intimate knowledge of the rigors of humanity. That He would be “the God Who Sees”, finding us in the remotest part of the desert. That He would “search” us and “know” us in every action. With all the possibilities to which God could put His mind and His efforts, in all their limitlessness, He chose to put His thoughts on us.


    • Brian Casey 11/03/2013 / 8:25 pm

      Thank you for the inspiration and poetic reminders!


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