"Jesus sought me when a stranger
wandering from the fold of God,
He to rescue me from danger
interposed His precious blood"
These words are from the 2nd verse of the hymn, Come Thou Fount, and remind me of an illustration my professor used in class a few weeks back. We were talking about propitiation, in regards to Jesus being the propitiation for our sins.
Imagine you are taking your 3 year old son for a walk. You take your eyes off of him for an instant, to find that he has left your side. You have no idea where he is. Frantically, you look in every direction. Then, in the distance, you see him running further and further away. You begin pursuing after him, when you realize that he is headed straight for the expressway. No stoplights or crosswalks to the rescue, just the force of cars going 70 mph. As you sprint towards your son, he takes two steps onto the expressway. You can see a car that is about 50 yards away from your son and is on a direct collision course. Right before the car collides with your son, you jump in the street with just enough time to pick up your child and throw him off the road. But, the car was coming too fast. You weren't able to get out of the way. You absorb the full weight of the car coming at 70mph.
While this picture is far from perfect, I think it captures the idea that Jesus stepped in on our behalf in a propitiatory manner. When we wandered from God, Jesus sought us. When we stood under the weight of sin, Jesus willingly stepped in and took its full burden. At the cross, Jesus was crushed. It was gruesome; far worse than getting hit by a car at 70 mph. He absorbed the full force of God's wrath which we rightly deserved. He tasted the very worst sting of death, in order that we may live.