In a general sense, the concept of propitiation is not unique to the Christian faith. Throughout human history, various groups have made animal or even human sacrifices in an effort to appease their gods. Even in modern-day religious practices, we see all kinds of rituals that are designed to appease a deity’s wrath or somehow remove guilt.

But there is something about the propitiation described in the Bible that is truly unique among all worldviews in all of human history. The truth that shines in the darkness is the fact that God sent His own Son as a propitiation. In fact, our propitiation is literally a member of the Godhead, in whom “the fullness of deity dwells bodily” as we read in Colossians 2:9. The unprecedented, mind-blowing, beautiful core of the Gospel is that the God who is being appeased offers of His own self as a propitiation. Can you imagine a sheep in Ancient Israel approaching the shepherd and requesting to be this year’s Passover lamb? Or a goat from the flock volunteering to be the scapegoat this year?

This kind of “self-propitiation” is the ultimate act of true, Biblical love. The well-known declaration “God is love” is supported in today’s Scripture by the words: “Not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” Love is evidenced by self-sacrifice for the greater good of another. What greater love could ever be shown than for the God against whom we have all sinned to make the necessary sacrifice Himself so that we could live with Him?

In this way, God has truly forgiven us. As we follow this example in our own lives, extending forgiveness will require us to be “appeased” or “propitiated” as we let go of our anger. It may also require us to endure and absorb in our own lives the negative consequences of the actions of others. This kind of forgiveness is an act of true, Biblical love, just as our God, who is love, has carried out the ultimate act of love on the cross.

Today, I will…love those around me by releasing the anger that they may in fact truly deserve, so that I can better serve them.