“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13).
The thought that my Lord actually become a “curse” in my stead chokes me up. I can’t possibly grasp the depth of what all that involves, but I know that Jesus did it because of His love for you and me. That kind of love is far beyond what I can comprehend!
Even before He created me in the womb; before the foundations of the world, Jesus knew that He would take my rightful curse upon Himself at Calvary.
Have you ever looked up the Old Testament Scripture Paul was quoting when He wrote, “For it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole”? It is taken from Deuteronomy 21.
“If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree, you must not leave his body hanging on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse. You must not desecrate the land the LORD you God is giving you as an inheritance” (Deuteronomy 21: 22-23).
As you read those verses, can’t you see JESUS written all over them? This was clearly a foreshadowing of Jesus’ death and burial, hidden in the Law of Moses.
First, it applied to someone “guilty” of a capital sin.
How was Jesus guilty when He never committed a transgression, and no sin was upon Him?
It was actually His sinlessness that allowed Him, and only Him, to become a sin sacrifice at Calvary. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). By becoming sin for us, Jesus was made guilty of a capital sin – that is our sin. For the wages, or earnings, of sin is death. Jesus took our guilt and our rightful punishment upon himself.
Not only that, He was “worthy” to die for us. He was the only One who was capable of taking the sin of the world upon himself because He had sin in Him.
Without realizing what they were saying, at the assembling before the high priest; the teachers of the law and elders answered, “He is worthy of death” (Matthew 26:66).
Yes, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain.”
Continuing in Deuteronomy 21:23, providentially, Moses instructed that a person who is hung on a tree MUST not be left on the tree overnight, and must be buried that same day.
That command in the Law was strange. In fact, this is the only type of capital punishment in the Law when a person is commanded to be buried. Most criminals who were put to death were buried under stones, dumped in a throwaway site, or their body was left on display as a deterrent for the people. But no so for someone hung on a tree.
Why did Moses instruct the people to bury the body of someone hung on a tree?
All this was in God’s foreknowledge, as a prelude to Jesus’ sacrificial death. Jesus was crucified and staked to a tree. His body was taken down before nightfall. And, on that same day, He was buried.
Now notice the concluding sentence of Dt 21:23, “You must not desecrate the land the LORD you God is giving you as an inheritance.” This too alludes to Jesus. Jesus is our inheritance!
After Jesus had fulfilled all that was necessary and breathed His last breath, it became as if God the Father said: MY SON, in whom I am well pleased has met all that is required by ME. No other unloving hand will be allowed to touch my Son’s holy body. His body will no longer be desecrated.
After the Roman soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a sword to verify His death, only devoted followers of Jesus Christ touched His body.
Joseph of Arimathea was the one allowed to take Jesus’ body down from the cross. He and Nicodemus respectfully took His body off the cross, and carried His body away for burial (on the same day). These men became followers of Jesus. Further, they were not followed to the tomb 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 our curse. And, yes, Jesus was buried.
But it doesn’t end there. Jesus rose from grave and He is alive forevermore!
And because of what Jesus did for us, He can impart His righteousness upon us, so we can become coheirs “into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for [us]” (1 Peter 1:4).