What does it mean, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’)” (Galatians 3:13 NKJV)?
When Paul wrote that Jesus Christ became a curse for us, we was alluing to passage from Deuteronomy 21.
“If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, ‘his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God.” (Deuteronomy 21: 22-23).
In these Old Testament verses was “hidden” a foreshadowing of Jesus’ death and burial. How so?
First, it was applied to someone who was “guilty” of a capital offense.
What capital offense was Jesus’ guilty of? He never committed any sin. Yet, God “made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). By becoming sin for us, Jesus was made guilty of our capital offense – which is sin. “For the wages of sins is death” (Romans 6:23).
It was actually Jesus’ sinlessness that allowed Him, and only Him, to become a sin sacrifice at Calvary. Jesus took our guilt and our rightful punishment upon himself. And, He was the only One who was capable of taking the sin of the world upon himself because He was, himself, without sin. So, in His sinlessness, He was the worthy, “sacrificial,” Lamb of God.
Without realizing what they were saying, the teachers of the law and elders spoke against Him at their assembling the night before the crucifixion, saying, “He is worthy of death” (Matthew 26:66 NIV). Jesus didn’t warrant death for himself. Rather, He was worthy of dying for others. “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain” (Rev. 5:12).
Further, in Deuteronomy 21:23, Moses instructed the people of Isreal that any person who is hung on a tree must not be left on the tree overnight, and must be buried that same day.
The command that the body of someone who was hung on a tree was to be buried seemed like an anomaly in the Law. For, it is is the only type of capital punishment within the Law that specifies a person is to be buried.
Under other forms of capital punishment, the body was dumped like garbage in a throwaway site; or it was left to rot in open display as a deterrent for the people. But, not so for someone hung on a tree.
Why did Moses instruct the people to bury the body of someone who was hung on a tree? All this was in God’s foreknowledge, as a prelude to Jesus’ sacrificial death. Jesus “bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24). His body was taken down before nightfall. And, on that same day, He was buried.
Look again at Deuternomy:23. “You shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance”. This, too, alludes to Jesus dying in our stead. For, in Him, we have “an inheriterance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven” (1 Peter 1: 3:4).
After Jesus had fulfilled all that was necessary and breathed His last breath, it was as if God the Father said: “My Son, in whom I am well pleased has met all that is required by Me. Henceforth, no unloving hand will be allowed to touch my Son’s holy body. For, it is finished and His body will no longer be desecrated.”
The last “unclean” hands to touch Jesus’ body were the Roman soldiers who pierced Jesus’ side with a sword to verify His death. After that, only devoted followers of Jesus Christ touched His body.
Joseph of Arimathea (who had became a follower of Jesus) was the one who took Jesus’ body down from the cross. He and Nicodemus (another follower of Jesus) respectfully took His body off the cross, and carried His body away for burial. And, they were not followed by a vindictive mob. Rather, they were followed to the gravesite by a group of women mourning their teacher and Lord.
Yes, at Calvary, Jesus became a curse for us. He was hung on a tree and then buried as a man “guilty” of a capital offense.http://
Graciously, though, it doesn’t end there. For, Jesus rose from the grave and He is alive forevermore! Praise the Lord!
Jesus’ resurrection from the grave is our living proof of God’s approval of Him. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). And, “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).
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