Following on from yesterday’s meditation we have in our verse today further credentials of our advocate. John tells us that Jesus Christ ‘is the propitiation’.
We must appreciate the uniqueness of this title ascribed to the Lord. The ‘he’ is emphatic and underlines the identity of the advocate and the fact that He alone can claim such a designation, by virtue of His character and work. What a joy, too, to know that ‘he is the propitiation’. ‘The present tense ‘? … declares that His sacrifice possesses a continuing quality; He was, and is, and will continue to be, the atoning sacrifice for our sins.’ D. Edmond Hiebert.
To appreciate the significance of the One who is the propitiation, we need to understand something of the divine view of sin. Sin is an offence against God, Luke 15.18, 21. It offends God’s holiness and brings estrangement between man and God. As John has revealed God as light, we see that God must punish sin. He cannot overlook or ignore it. It must be judged and removed. The wonder is that God loved us. Even in our condition as sinners, estranged from and at enmity with Him, God loved us, and ‘sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins’, 1 John 4.10.
There is a further thought for us to ponder here. We might have expected John to speak of Christ as ‘the propitiator’, the one who offers the sacrifice. That would be wonderful in itself. But Christ is more that the officiating high priest; He is also the sacrificial victim. To maintain the picture, it is His blood that was shed and that was sprinkled upon the mercy seat. He has borne the punishment that should rightly have been ours and, as that penalty has been borne, God can forgive and restore us to His fellowship.
The scope of the work is equally remarkable: ‘he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world’. As believers, we can rejoice that our sins are covered, brought within the scope of the work of Christ. As witnesses for Christ, we can also carry the message of the gospel to the ‘whole world’. What a propitiation!