‘Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood.’ Romans 3:24–25
Suggested Further Reading: Exodus 25:17–22
God has set forth Christ as being a propitiation. The Greek word is hilasterion which, being translated, may mean a mercy seat or a covering. Now God has said to the sinner, ‘Do you desire to meet me? Would you be no longer my enemy? Would you tell me your sorrows? Would you receive my blessing? Would you establish a commerce between your Creator and your soul? I set forth Christ to you as being the mercy seat, where I can meet with you and you can meet with me.’ Or take the word as signifying a covering; as the mercy seat covered the tables of the law, and so covered that which was the cause of divine anger, because we had broken his commandment. ‘Would you have anything which can cover your sin? Cover it from me your God, so that I need not be provoked to anger; cover it from you so that you need not be cowed with excessive fear, and tremble to approach me as you did when I came in thunders and lightnings upon Sinai? Would you have a shelter which shall hide altogether your sins and your iniquities? I set it forth to you in the person of my bleeding Son. Trust in his blood, and your sin is covered from my eyes; it shall be covered from your own eyes too; and being justified by faith, you shall have peace with God through Jesus Christ your Lord.’ O that we may have grace to accept now what God the Father sets forth! The Romish priest sets forth this and that; our own Romish hearts set forth such-and-such-another thing; but God sets forth Christ. The preacher of doctrine sets forth a dogma; the preacher of experience sets forth a feeling; the preacher of practice often sets forth an effort; but God puts before you Christ. ‘There I will meet with thee.’
For meditation: Christ is the only propitiation that God in his mercy will accept as a covering for our sin (Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 4:10). Have you accepted him too, or are you still trying to bodge your own cover-up job? It won’t work (Genesis 3:7–9).
Sermon no. 373
29 March (Good Friday 1861)