“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
– 1 John 4:10
In this is love. In this is love. Everyone affirms that “love” is a good thing, but what is it? God shows us with climactic and definitive clarity: Love is God the Father, sending God the Son, to willingly offer Himself up as a wrath absorbing sacrifice through God the Spirit (Hebrews 9:14) for the sake of God’s glory and Humanity’s salvation. In this is love, God came to us and absorbed the wrath of God against us so that He might be our joy for eternity.
“Propitiation” can be understood to mean “wrath absorbing sacrifice.” God’s love for humanity is manifested in the act of God the Son being sent as a wrath-absorbing sacrifice for our sins…..
Christ was sent by the Father who loves Him infinitely and He willingly and out of love bore the wrath that we all deserve…THAT act on the cross manifests God’s love.
What’s particularly stunning about this passage is that WRATH and LOVE are inextricably bound together in the human experience. We could not know the fullness of God’s love apart from His holy wrath against our sins, because it is in dying under that wrath that He communicates His love to us…..if someone wants a wrath-less God, they will – ultimately – have a love-less God as well.
This picture is an effort to communicate visually what John is communicating verbally. No picture will ever be a revelation of God the way that scripture reveals Him…and it will become idolatrous if we try to make it do the revelatory work only the Bible can do… however, pictures can remind us of scripture and show us – like a child’s drawing of the Mona Lisa – a dim glimpse of the beauty of God revealed in God’s Word.
Glory to our God who loves us with such a staggering, soul-satisfying, fear-quieting, heart-rejoicing, life-transforming sort of love…..He gave His Son as the wrath absorbing sacrifice for our sins