Friday, March 18, 2011

The Way of the Cross (9)

After those forty years wandering in the desert, the children of Israel are finally getting close to the land of promise. Two and a half tribes have already conquered their land on the east of the Jordan, and the rest are ready to go over the river and take their land. But before they do, Moses gives them one last reminder of how they have come to be where they are now. Moses isn't going with them, so he wants them to grasp why their parents' generation languished in the wilderness rather than going straight from Egypt to Israel.

As he outlines their story, highlighting, underlining, emboldening the failures and unbelief of the previous generation, he also outlines the way they should live in the land God is giving them. Within the summary of the Law, we find a couple of verses which Paul picks up on in Galatians, which help us to understand the cross:

And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance. (Deuteronomy 21:22-23)

A crime punishable by death means that the person is cursed by God. All of us are lawbreakers, each of us deserves death for our sins. Yet the remarkable thing is that the Holy One, the one who perfectly obeyed the Law and his Father's command, he it was who died in this cursed way on the tree. How can we understand it?

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us - for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree" - so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:13-14)

The Lord Jesus took our cursedness and gives us his blessedness as he dies the death we deserve and gives us the life we didn't deserve.

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

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