The sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross deserves constant study and reflection on our part. His death is at the heart of our faith. Paul said he preached “Jesus Christ, and him crucified” 1 Cor 2.2. We can never neglect studying and speaking about what the Lord did exactly in giving his life for us.
He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world. 1 Jn 2.2 NLT.
John here uses a word often translated “propitiation.” NLT translates it as “the sacrifice that atones;” NET, as “atoning sacrifice.” One definition describes the word this way:
Propitiation is the biblical doctrine embodying the concept that the death of Christ fully satisfied the demands of a righteous God in respect to judgment upon the sinner.
Many often connect it as well with the satisfaction of God’s wrath toward sin and sinners, so that he may be both “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” Rom 3.26 ESV.
The Old Testament, of course, provides the background for atonement. God determined a national day for it, Lev 16. Sin must be dealt with. Eventually, in the fullness of time, Jesus dealt with it “completely, perfectly, finally, and for all time and eternity” (AMPC).
Not only is his atoning sacrifice complete, but it is inclusive and far-reaching as well: for the sins of all the world. When we add in the time factor, that his sacrifice applies to all people in all eras of the world — “A death took place as payment for the trespasses committed under the first covenant” Heb 9.15 EHV — we begin to get an idea that the sacrifice of Christ was the central event of history and is the main point of our faith and proclamation.
And we begin to get an idea of the importance that God places upon our fulfillment of his grand mission in the world, to proclaim this message to all who can have no hope of redemption except in the sacrifice of Christ.