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March 28 – Cross purposes: Propitiation

“For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:9 

Scripture reading: Hebrews 2:10-18

Propitiation is a big word not commonly used. It is an important biblical word that reveals what the Lord Jesus has done. The writer to the Hebrews tells us that Jesus identified with us by on taking flesh and blood, by being made like His brothers in every respect in order ‘to make propitiation for the sins of the people’ (Hebrews 2:17).

To understand propitiation, you have to think of the wrath of God. God’s wrath is not an uncontrolled fury that escapes Him. It is a deliberate response to anyone that crosses Him or competes with Him in His devotion to His own glory. As sinners, we cross Him all the time. We rob Him of His glory and pursue our own. God’s response is to punish us in His wrath.

Our Lord Jesus became man to make propitiation. That is, Jesus is the One Who turns away the wrath of God from His people. He places Himself between God’s wrath and us and absorbs it all. In bearing responsibility for our sin, He becomes liable to God’s wrath. His heart wrenching cry, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ is proof that He experienced God’s wrath on the cross. Because our Lord bears the wrath our sins deserve, God is pacified, He is appeased, His anger is turned away.

God’s wrath (Isaiah 51:17; Psalm 75:8) was the cup Jesus so dreaded. Thank God that Jesus drank that cup so that we might drink the cup of salvation (Psalm 116:13).

Suggestions for prayer

Praise God for the death of the Lord Jesus which covers sin and turns away God’s wrath. Pray that we, by the Holy Spirit, would be careful to please God by our thoughts, words, and actions.

Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at

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