“He . . . is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (1 John 2:2).
To propitiate means to turn away wrath by offering a gift. In the New Testament the word applies to Jesus’ death on the cross. When Jesus hung on the cross in great agony and great pain, he cried out to God, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” No one fully understands what those words mean, but it was something like this. In that moment all the wrath of God was poured out. It was as if the sewer pit of hell had been emptied on Jesus. He became sin for us. All of your sin and all of my sin and the sins of the whole world were poured out on Jesus, and in that moment God turned his face away from his only begotten son. In that moment, Jesus took the wrath of God for us.
These three truths summarize the effects of propitiation:
1. Because Jesus Christ died, God’s justice is now satisfied.
2. Because Jesus Christ died, God’s wrath has now been turned away. The price for sin has been paid.
3. Because Jesus Christ died, God’s mercy is now freely available to anyone who wants it.
As the famous gospel song says,
Jesus paid it all,
All to him I owe,
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.
God’s heart is open to you because Christ paid the full price and had taken God’s wrath upon himself. In the cross we see the true nature of God. He is full of grace and eager to pardon those who trust in his Son.
Lord Jesus, you have settled our case forever by paying with your own blood the debt we could never pay. Amen.
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