“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 2:1-2
There’s a passage in the Old Testament, Zechariah chapter three, that’s, to me, one of most beautiful scenes in all of scripture.
In it the prophet is shown a vision of Joshua the high priest standing before God and the devil. The scene is a scene of judgment. God is the judge, Satan is the accuser, and Joshua is the accused. Joshua’s guilt is obvious in the vision as it is illustrated by his wearing of filthy clothes. Satan’s accusation against Joshua isn’t given but it’s apparent that something has been presented because God rebukes Satan in defense of Joshua.
“The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” Zechariah 3:2
This is what John is talking about when he says that we have an Advocate with the Father.
When someone’s your advocate in court they’re there to make sure that your side and your needs are given the consideration that they need and deserve. And when we come before God with the guilt of our sin plain for all to see. And we come with true humility, not trying to justify or excuse what we’ve done, but simply and honestly confessing our sins to God, repenting of what we’ve done. God forgives us and he, instead of rebuking us, rebukes the devil because we’re one of those that he has saved from the fires of destruction.
But God’s ability to passover our sins isn’t that simple. That’s why our focus text says that Jesus is more than an advocate. He’s also the “propitiation for our sins.”
A propitiation is someone, something, or some action that serves to both appease the wrath of an offended person and to reconcile that person back to the offender.
Our sin places us in a position of deserving God’s wrath and in being unable to offer anything that would satisfy to appease that wrath. Only God was capable of doing anything that would satisfy to propitiate us to Himself. And God, the injured party, the one whose wrath was justified against us, took it upon himself to bear our punishment and to reconcile us to himself.
There are people who question whether or not God is a God of love. Friends, if God wasn’t a God of love we’d all be justifiably dead, executed for our crimes against the law of God. But God is more than merely just. He’s also loving. And in his love he’s chosen to take the way that makes it possible for us to be forgiven, saved, and restored to him even though it requires that he take our penalty.
And that’s what he does because that’s who he is. He’s on our side. He’s our advocate. He’s our propitiation.