When our two oldest sons were in the 1st and 4th grades, my “ running late” issues caused them to be tardy for school many mornings. It honestly didn’t help that they had a principal that was a “stickler” for the rules. No grace whatsoever. If you were 1 minute late…You were tardy. And we were like 1 minute late a lot! Really, we were. Ugh! Don’t you just love those “rule sticklers?” If you are a rule person, I want you to know that I love you. Really I do. I just don’t like your rule “sticklerness” as I’m sure you don’t like my “lateness.” Isn’t Grace wonderful?!? We were thankful to have more “Grace Focused” leaders in our schools as time passed along.
As our son’s began to rack up one tardy after another, our oldest son came home one day very upset. He told us that he was upset because the next day he was going to have to sit on the stage during lunch, with his legs crossed, and stare at the wall in front of everyone because he had been tardy so many times. Needless to say, I was upset. They were going to make a 1st & 4th grade kids, who can’t control being tardy, sit in front of all of their friends, with their legs crossed, and stare at the wall for punishment. I was frustrated. I was angry. I was to blame. It wasn’t their fault they were tardy. It was mine. My feelings were actually about my "running Late" issues. I still was upset about the punishment.
I set up a meeting with the “rule stickler” authority person, who was absolutely right about my kid’s tardiness (dangit!), to at least express my frustration with the punishment policy. During our meeting, I asked if there was some other way to get parent’s attention rather than humiliating the kids on the stage. It seemed like a crazy punishment for something that was not the kids fault. She quickly said “NO!” It was their “Policy,” and my kids would have to do the time. I let her know, in very kind words, how I felt about her “Policy,” and then I informed her that I would be serving my kids punishment for them. Her stickler eyes opened widely and she said “What?” I had decided that I would sit in my boys places, with my legs crossed, and stare at the wall for them. Then they could be free to go play, because ultimately it was not their fault…it was mine. She stumbled over her words for a minute and then told me that was not possible. The kids would have to sit on the stage. I wanted to know why. Why couldn’t I "appease" her “stickler” wrath by sitting on the stage for my kids? After a brief discussion, she finally, and very firmly, said it wouldn’t be possible. Which of course made absolutely no sense to me. I honestly think she was stunned. I also think that her brain was completely conditioned to say “no” to anything that was outside the policies within her Elementary Law!
We finally came to a resolution. I would sit beside them and take the punishment too. So that’s what I did. I sit beside each of my sons during their lunch period, on the stage, with my legs crossed, and we stared at the wall together. And they were never tardy that many times again because of me. Their tardiness now is all on them, as they drive themselves to school. That is also another blog for another time.
The word “propitiation” is an amazing word. It is the act of propitiating, which means “to appease or conciliate.” When I chose to sit beside my kids on that stage, we were both enduring the punishment for their tardiness. I was not enduring it for them nor did I reconcile anything. When Jesus went to the cross he went alone. He did endure our punishment for us. Hebrews 2:17 says, “ Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people.”
The Greek word “hilaskomai” is used at the end of verse 17. The word was used in ancient times as the Greeks looked for ways to "appease" their gods (little “g”). They were looking for a way to earn what they believed could save and take care of them. The writer of Hebrews uses the word to declare that the search for a Savior was over! Jesus Christ is the complete “propitiation” for the sins of all mankind. He is the only way we can be saved. (John 14:6)
Jesus was the complete and total sacrifice for every sin that would ever be committed. He was the complete provision, and because of Jesus, Paul tells us in Philippians 4:13, that no matter what our circumstances may be in life we "can do ALL things through Christ.” Why? Because anything and everything we have done, will do, or go through…He took away and conquered for us. Jesus spoke that truth to His disciples right before He was crucified when He said, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Jesus overcame & defeated it all! Sin, death, hell, this world system, failures, problems, confusion, pain, disappointment, and all that we have faced, are facing, and will face! That’s why He said, “It is finished.” Final! Complete! Over! Done! He wanted all of His disciples to know that we can have peace through all that we go through and in spite of anything we have done. He made things right for us before God, and when we receive His sacrifice we are able to come into His presence. We can also actually have the very presence of God IN US. Wow!
We can REST today! Jesus was obedient to His Father and made a way for us. He was our “propitiation.” He met all the necessary requirements so that we don’t have to! It's a good thing too, because we can’t! God knew there was no way any of us could do what needed to be done. So, He sent His Son to do what needed to be done for us. Do you know what that means? We don’t have to perform to meet God’s expectations or to get Him to do what needs to be done for us! We can rest in the FINISHED work of Jesus. We can walk by faith today knowing that Jesus has done what needed to be done to make us right with God, and that He will now, because of Jesus, faithfully meet ALL of our needs according to His riches that are in Glory! (Philippians 4:19)
Have you received what Jesus did for you? Or are you working hard to try and make it yourself? Listen, we can't do it! I couldn't, you can't, no one can. The price that has to be paid for sin is to high. The requirements are impossible. That's why God did what He did for you through Jesus. You simply have to receive Him into your life. How? The Bible tells exactly what to do in Romans 10:8-10, "It's the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God - "Jesus is my Master" - embracing, body and soul, God's work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That's it. You're not "doing" anything; you're simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That's salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: "God has set everything right between him and me!" That's it. Believe and Ask Him to do IN you what you can't do for yourself. He loves you. He doesn't want you to be alone and lost anymore.
When we as believers understand this incredible truth, it gives so much purpose and urgency to what Jesus said in Matthew 28:18-20 "God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I'll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age."
We have something amazing to tell! We should GO and Share with others about the way God made for us back to Him, through His Obedient and Faithful Son Jesus Christ.
Amazing what we can learn from our tardiness, mistakes and even “rule stickler” people.