Jesus Crucified Between Two Thieves
- Artist unknown
From Treasures of the Bible
TODAY'S SPECIAL: 1 John 1:1-2:2
TO CHEW ON: "And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world." 1 John 2:2
In our time when we love to focus on the grace, mercy, and love of God, it's easy to lose sight of one of His other attributes—His righteousness. That is the attribute of God that has Him responding with white-hot anger to sin. His perfect justice demands that sin be punished.
We see illustrations of this in the Old Testament.
- When Achan sinned by taking beautiful things from Jericho, he was punished by stoning. Only then "… the Lord turned from the fierceness of His anger" - Joshua 7:26.
- When Israel flirted with idol worship, God allowed other nations to brutalize her (Ezekiel 16:40,41) and "… so I will lay to rest My fury toward you, and My jealousy shall depart from you" - Ezekiel 16:42.
- When Israel returned to God in repentance, Hosea describes God's quickness to take back the repentant one: "… For my anger has turned away from him" - Hosea 14:4.
Our focus verse today gives us the answer. This is what He did:
"...And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world" - 1 John 4:1,2
That word propitiation is key here.
[This particular word for propitiation (hilasmos) is used only twice in the Bible, here and in 1 John 4:10. it "describes Christ through His sacrificial death as appeasing the wrath of God on account of sin. It also pictures His death as expiatory, providing a covering for sin. By means of the atoning death of Christ, God can be merciful to the sinner who believes in Him and reconciliation is effected" - Dick Mills, Word Wealth, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1788.]
Here's another shorter definition of propitiation: "A sacrifice that bears God's wrath to the end and in so doing changes God's wrath toward us into favour" - Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 575.
Isn't that incredible! God sent His own Son—Jesus—to take His white-hot anger against our sin. He (Jesus) paid the penalty—death—in our stead. The words of John in 1 John 4:10 express perfectly how this act keeps God in sync with His love and mercy—those attributes of His we prefer to dwell on:
"In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sin."
PRAYER: Thank You, Jesus, for bearing the fury of God's righteous wrath over my sin, in my stead. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.