Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood…
I. CHRIST, A PROPITIATION. Sin draws on the sinner the holy anger of God, although it cannot quench the love of God. And that it could not quench His love is shown by His providing and setting forth as a propitiation His own Son, through whom He can look on us with anger no more, but with complacency. This He has done. It often costs us much, we have often got much to get over in order to let the affection that there is in our heart towards some human being have its way, to help and succour him on account of some waywardness in him. What would not the father or mother of a profligate child give to be able to lavish on the degraded being tokens of affection as freely as they did when they folded him in their arms a happy innocent child, if they felt they could do so without their goodness being abused by him to his own hurt and to their shame, or being regarded by him as a proof that they did not look on his vices with any great detestation or sorrow? What the sacrifice of God's only-begotten and well-beloved Son involved to Him, we vainly attempt to conceive. "He spared not His own Son, but gave Him up to the death for us all." Mark that it is not said here that the Saviour has made propitiation, but that He is a propitiation. So speaks also the Apostle John: "He is the propitiation for our sins." In the Saviour Himself, in the living person of the God-man, is found the ground of pardon and acceptance. The virtue of His obedience and death is centred in His person, and radiates from it.
II. THE WAY IN WHICH PROPITIATION IS EFFECTED. Christ is a propitiation "through faith in His blood." By His blood and by faith — not faith in His blood — but by His blood, by which He expiated sin, He is a propitiation by faith as the subjective means of appropriation of this propitiation. You must look, on the one hand, to Christ's sacrificial death, and on the other to faith in Christ, in order to account for the sinner being received into the favour of God and being reconciled to Him.
1. It was by the giving of His holy life in sacrifice that Jesus propitiated God on our behalf, or appeased the wrath, and delivered us from the curse of God due for sin.
2. Christ is only actually and effectually a propitiation to you and to me, if we believe in Him. He is a propitiation only through faith. In this the righteousness of God is also seen. It were unrighteous to justify any but him who believed in Jesus, or for God to be propitiated through Christ on behalf of anyone who did not believe on Christ. For through faith we come into a life-union with the Son of God.
III. CHRIST, AS OUR PROPITIATION, IS SET FORTH BY GOD. That type of Christ of old, which furnishes the name and explains the aspect under which Christ is set forth here, the propitiation, propitiatory, or mercy seat, was hid in the innermost shrine of the dwelling place of God. It was seen by no mortal eye but that of the high priest, and that only when, once a year, he entered with awed spirit behind the veil. But Jesus Christ, the great reality, of which that golden throne of grace was the sign and shadow, is not hidden, but is openly set forth. In word and ordinance He is exhibited.
1. There is the Bible, about which such daring opinions nowadays are ventured, and of which, in their secret hearts, many have doubts and sentiments which they would not dare to utter; which many, who read so much that is deleterious, never or rarely open; which many read so carelessly and to so little purpose! My friend, hast thou ever thought that in that Book God has set forth His Son as a propitiation? This is the great end for which it is written.
2. There is the everlasting gospel, which is of small account with many, a weariness, a superfluity, which even in their view might be banished from the sanctuary; or, if it cannot be banished, may be thrust as far as possible into a corner, and its place supplied very pleasantly by something that will soothe and regale the senses and the taste. But oh! see that you are not blind to what is set forth in the garb of His words and thoughts — Jesus Christ the propitiation through faith in His blood. See above all that you do not forget that, though with man's voice, and in man's language, and often with much weakness, yet God is really setting forth Christ as a propitiation.
3. In the sacraments God so sets forth His Son.
(W. Wilson, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;