Justification and Vindication - the Heart of the Gospel
The way that Jesus propitiates his Father is in the Father’s wise plan. All of God’s justice is worked out in Christ, who takes our curse and penalty in his own body on the tree. That is why Christians speak of satisfying the wrath of God. This expression does not mean that God is up in heaven smirking, “This really satisfies me.” It means that the demands of his holiness are met in the sacrifice of his own Son. His justice is satisfied in Jesus’ propitiatory sacrifice so that all may see that sin deserves the punishment that he himself has imposed, and the punishment has been meted out. This vindicates God so that he himself is seen to be just, as well as the one who justifies the ungodly (cf. Rom. 4:5). Justification is first and foremost about the vindication of God. God simultaneously preserves his justice while justifying the ungodly. That is the heart of the gospel.
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