Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Bearer of the Curse

"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree” (Galatians 3:13).

In our day a curse is regarded as superstitious, but in biblical categories it has a different meaning. The curse in the Old Testament refers to the negative judgment of God—the opposite of blessing. When God gave the covenant to Israel, He listed the curses and blessings, the punishments and rewards, to be dispensed to the faithful or unfaithful (Deuteronomy 28).

In the Bible, blessedness means to be able to come near to the presence of God. The closer you come to a face-to-face relationship with God, the more blessed you are; and the farther you are from God, the more cursed you are. Thus, the curse of God was to be removed from His presence altogether, to be utterly cut off from Him.

John’s Gospel opens with the statement, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” The word translated with implies “face to face.” Originally, the Son of God was face to face with God.

When we read of the passion of Jesus, two things stand out. First, Jesus was judged by Gentiles. He was sent out of the covenant community of Israel into the realm of those who were strangers to the covenant. Second, according to the law, a man who was hanged on a tree was cursed (Deuteronomy 21:23).

When Jesus bore the punishment for our sins, He experienced God’s curse and rejection. In spiritual torment He cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). Why? So that He might die that we might live.

At the Cross we see the truest picture of the horror of our sin. Reflect on that for a few moments, and then thank God that Jesus was willing to undergo the curse on your behalf. As you ponder both the physical pain and the spiritual anguish which Jesus, the eternally Beloved Son and Innocent One, experienced, use a hymnal to read or sing several of the stirring hymns about the Crucifixion.