We have a great privilege to be intercessors for others. To Intercede means to make petition in behalf of another. We see the prophet Daniel making intercession in prayer, “While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the Lord my God for his holy hill— while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice.” (Daniel 9: 17-21). Daniel was confessing his sin and the sins of his people Israel. You might ask why and what effect could this have, but God sent Gabriel an important angel in response to his prayer – that is effective prayer. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1: 9). God is full of mercy and forgives us through the work of Yeshua His Son, not through anything we have done.
We know that forgiveness is from God and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (Heb. 9: 22). Before Yeshua came the priests offered animal sacrifices regularly on behalf of God’s people. Yeshua offered himself, once and for all for the redemption of all who believe on Him. As such forgiveness is available through His name.
Yeshua interceded for us who believe, even while we were lost in our sins and transgressions. “Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53: 12).
Do we have power to forgive sins? Anyone who has forgiven someone else’s offense is acting as Yeshua taught His followers. While Stephen was being stoned he said, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7: 60). Yeshua said, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matt. 6: 14-15). We can’t control others or cause them to have remorse or come to us and ask for our pardon, and this is not necessary. Forgiveness is not earned nor deserved, but granted by grace. Consider the parable of the wicked servant who was given forgiveness out of pity, but refused to forgive his fellow servant. (Matt. 18: 23-35)
Yeshua said to a paralyzed man that his sins were forgiven. Those watching said to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2: 7-12). Yeshua healed the man to show that He has power to forgive sins. We accept this as Yeshua is God, but we are His followers, so what did he say to us. Yeshua told the disciples, “Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.’ ” (John 20: 21-23). “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.” (Acts 13: 38). “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5: 14-16). Prayer is effective to bring about forgiveness of sins through Yeshua.
Intercessory prayer is specifically encouraged for believers. “If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that.” (1 John 5: 16). When we become aware that our fellow believers have sinned we can intercede on their behalf and God will give them life rather than the consequences of sin which is death. Finally, just as Daniel confessed the sins of his people, we should do the same. “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people — for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” (1 Timothy 2: 1-2). In our role as intercessors we are not elevated over people like those who seem to grant forgiveness in exchange for some expression of contrition. The Bible teaches a priesthood of all believers and as disciples of Yeshua we do the things He did, through the power of His mighty name. (John 14: 12-14). We are to have faith in God’s abundant mercy and intercede just as Yeshua does, that forgiveness and life will be given to all those whom the Spirit puts upon our hearts.