“And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” 1 John 2:2
Defining grace is no easy task. It’s one of those concepts that is so deep and beautiful it is impossible to fully express with words. Like trying to capture the vastness of the Grand Canyon in a photograph, words just don’t do grace justice. Even Jesus talked about grace mainly through stories, or parables.
Author Philip Yancey shared this story to try and explain grace: “I remember once getting stuck in Los Angeles traffic and arriving 58 minutes late at the Hertz rental desk. I walked up in kind of a bad mood, put the keys down and asked, ‘How much do I owe?’ The woman says, ‘Nothing, you’re all clear.’ I reminded her I was late and she smiled, ‘Yes, but there’s a one-hour grace period.’ So I asked, ‘Oh really, what is grace?’ And she said, ‘I don’t know. I guess what it means is that even though you’re supposed to pay, you don’t have to.”
That is a good beginning to the definition of grace. I would take it a step further to add that even though we are supposed to pay, we couldn’t pay; and we do not have to under God’s grace. But our sin debt was not written off. It was still paid – just not by us. God sent His Son Jesus to be the propitiation for our sin. That word, propitiation, is daunting. In the Greek language, it simply means “appeasement or satisfaction.”
Jesus’ death on the cross satisfied, or appeased, God’s righteous wrath towards our sin. That debt was owed; and it had to be paid. Salvation is God’s gift, purchased by the blood of His Son. There is a Christian hymn with these lyrics:
I had a debt I could not pay,
He paid the debt He did not owe,
I needed someone,
To wash my sins away.
And now I sing a brand new song,
“Amazing Grace,” all day long,
Christ Jesus paid the debt,
That I could never pay.
As Christ followers who have been redeemed by His grace, we must never forget that Someone else paid our debt. Jesus took our place, so that in Him we might live debt free.
Dear Jesus, thank you for taking my place and paying my debt on the cross. I pray that you would give me the opportunity this week to share this truth of your salvation with someone who needs to know the grace of God. In Jesus' name, amen.