Got a church word for you today: propitiation. From the Greek hilasterion “to appease/that which expiates/the gift that procures divine favor.” It’s used only once in the New Testament:
“And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” I John 2:2 (KJV)
“Propitiation” is also alluded to with the Ark of the Covenant, particularly the mercyseat or atonement cover in Hebrews 9:5. The mercy seat was sprinkled with atoning blood on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:14). This all represented that the sentence of the Law had been carried out changing a judgment seat into… what? A mercy seat. Still with me?
Propitiation means that God is satisfied with the sacrifice of our Lord on the Cross. It is not a representation. It is literal. Jesus’s literal blood has been sprinkled for us to atone for the sentence of the Law. Changing what would be judgement into… what? That’s right: MERCY.
Isn’t that incredible?
Let me put it to you this way: Imagine a courtroom where the judge declares the defendant guilty and then has an innocent bystander pay for the crimes of the defendant. Outrageous, is it not? But that’s exactly how it works. “He is righteous, so much so that a sacrifice for sin had to be provided. He is loving, so much so that he provided that sacrifice Himself.” (Millard Erickson “Christian Doctrine”)
Like the song goes, “He paid a debt He did not owe. I owed a debt I could not pay.”
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished” Romans 3:23-25 (NIV)
Jesus is our advocate. (1 John 2:1)
Jesus is our mediator. (1 Timothy 2:5, Hebrews 12:24)
Jesus is our interceder. (Romans 8:34)
Jesus turns our seat from one of judgement to one of mercy.
I heard it put like this: Jesus goes to bat for us.
Jesus is our propitiation. He is our atonement. Without Him advocating and mediating and interceding we could never pay the debt owed. We would be thrown into prison. Our sentence would be for life without parole.
Without the shedding of His precious blood, we would be doomed.