Most of us heard this passage quoted to us as we were led to the Lord…
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; [But we] Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God has 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; (Romans 3:23-25 KJ2000)
We were made to see that we are all sinners, but God has made the provision of His Son to deal with that. But how many of us understand this word “propitiation”? In old England they had what were called “Whipping Boys.” If a man of stature in that culture committed a crime that was punishable by a public flogging he could hire a whipping boy who would take the beating for him. This comes close to what “propitiation” means.
We also have been told that the word “sin” in the New Testament means is to miss the mark or to fall short. It was an old English archery term. When an archer would shoot at a target and fall short the spotter at the target area would call out, “Sin!” And we all know how we have fallen short of the glory that God has for us to walk in—the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Now consider these two passages from the New Testament…
In this way, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant. There have been many priests, since they have been prevented by death from continuing in office. But because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore, because he always lives to intercede for them, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him. We need such a high priest-one who is holy, innocent, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. (Hebrews 7:22-26 ISV – emphasis added)
Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. (Romans 8:34 KJ2000 – emphasis added)
My wife, Dorothy, and I just got back from a road trip to Texas and drove a grueling 5000 miles on our journey. We went down there to go to our grand daughter’s wedding which was a nice family gathering with two of our kids and their families, One of the highlights of the trip for us was a visit with Charlie Lafferty and his dear wife, Alice, who live just east of Dallas. Their hospitality was wonderful. What made my visit with Charlie stand out was one morning we were sitting at his kitchen table and we got to talking about how Jesus is at the right hand of God making intercession for us. Charlie was saying how he had always heard the above verse in Hebrews interpreted to mean that God is mad at us sinners and ready to toss us all into hell and Jesus is there at the right hand of God pleading with Him not to do it. He said that didn’t seem right to him, so I got out my computer Bible program and here is what Thayer’s dictionary has to say about the Greek word that was translated “intercession” in the above verses.
G1793 – ἐντυγχάνω entugchanō
1) to light upon a person or a thing, fall in with, hit upon, a person or a thing
2) to go to or meet a person, especially for the purpose of conversation, consultation, or supplication
3) to pray, entreat
4) make intercession for any one
From [two Greek words] G1722 and G5177
G1722 – ἐν en
- in, by, with etc.
G5177 – tugchanō
1) to hit the mark
1a) of one discharging a javelin or arrow
- to reach, attain, obtain, get, become master of
So to intercede means to reach and obtain and hit the target WITH Christ making this possible for us to do as He sits at the right hand of God in heaven.
Paul used this same Greek word when he wrote,
In the same way, the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we should. But the Spirit himself intercedes [entugchanō] with groans too deep for words, and the one who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, for the Spirit intercedes [entugchanō] for the saints according to God’s will. And we know that he works all things together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:26-28 ISV)
God fills us with His Spirit who also fills-in for our weaknesses and prays according to the will of God for us. It is the will of our Father that the Son and the Spirit of God hit the mark in our behalf. Wow! Everything we need is in Christ! David caught the intent of God’s heart concerning us when he wrote,
He has not dealt with us according to our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pities his children, so the LORD pities them that fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. (Psalms 103:10-14 KJ2000)
When we sin we miss the mark of our high calling in Jesus Christ, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” but…
Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house… But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house [family or household] are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. (Hebrews 3:1-6 KJ2000)
He is at the right hand of God, our Father, as the Head of His household and as such is our intercessor hitting the mark with God for us as we trust in Him. It is as if He takes our short comings (sins) and replaces them with HIS ability to hit the mark (intercede) with God. WE then are found IN Him with the ability [grace] to reach, attain, obtain and become masters of all that pertains to His holiness! God is not that angry judge sitting there just waiting to punish us! NO! That is a lie from hell. As Jesus put it, “For God so LOVED the world that He sent His only begotten son, that whosoever would believe (cling to, rely on and trust in) Him would NOT perish, but have everlasting life.” What a great understanding Father we have and what a Savior we have in His Son!!!
800 years before Christ, Isaiah prophesied of this great saving work that God would do for His creation saying,
Yet it was the will of the LORD [the Father] to bruise him [God’s own Son]; he has put him to grief; when he makes himself an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand; he shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:10-12 RSVA)
Amen! Thank you Lord Jesus for making every provision we need to please our Father as we trust in you.