What’s Good About Good Friday?
On Good Friday we’re reminded of the good news of God’s love for us displayed in the death of his Son Jesus Christ on the cross. Drs. John Frame and Steve Childers help us deepen our understanding of the death of Jesus in this brief excerpt from their upcoming book and course, “Gospel in Theology.”
Gospel in Theology: Chapter 4 excerpt
By Steve Childers and John Frame
There are several biblical words used to help us deepen our understanding of God’s love for us through the substitutionary death of Christ on our behalf, including sacrifice, redemption, reconciliation, and propitiation. Let’s look briefly at the New Testament word, “propitiation.”
The Apostle Paul writes, “Jesus is the one “whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood (Rom 3:25).” The writer to the Hebrews tells us that Jesus, as our “merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God,” has made “propitiation for the sins of the people” (Heb 2:17).
To propitiate means to placate, pacify, appease, and conciliate someone. This Greek word ἱλαστήριον (hilastērion) translated “propitiation” is also translated “sacrifice of atonement.” Propitiation is a personal word. Someone propitiates a person. John writes, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:10).”
Through Jesus’ death, God’s just wrath against us has been turned away by being poured out in all its fullness on Jesus in our place. God satisfied his own wrath against us by substituting his own Son for us on the cross so that God can look on us without anger and we can look on God without fear. John Stott writes:
It is God himself who in holy wrath needs to be propitiated, God himself who in holy love undertook to do the propitiating, and God himself who in the person of his Son died for the propitiation of our sins. Thus God took his own loving initiative to appease his own righteous anger by bearing it his own self in his own Son when he took our place and died for us. (John Stott, The Cross of Christ, 1986:175)
This is the good news that believers in Jesus don’t have to live in fear of God’s condemnation anymore. Instead, no matter how great our sins may be, God promises that he can no longer look on us with anger because he poured out all his wrath on Jesus in our place.
Reference: Applied Theology Series: The Gospel in Theology, Chapter 4 “Good News of a New Standing–Forgiveness” by John M. Frame and Steven L. Childers
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