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 pole.” Galatians 3:13 (NIV).
In the days of Rome (and Greece), people were crucified on trees, poles, and crosses. This was considered the most humiliating and horrifying form of public execution. If the government crucified you, it did so because you were one of the worst of the worst possible criminals; a true threat to public safety, well-being, and stability of the ruling order. If you were crucified, the government wanted to make an example of you, to instill fear in others, to let them know that you were powerless and being punished with a gruesome death.
Crucifixion was a horrible way to die. It would have been far preferable – and much less painful – to simply be impaled and immediately killed. Instead, a person being crucified would die slowly, of asphyxiation, over many hours, possibly even days. If you were crucified, you were considered cursed.
Christ died this kind of death. In doing so, Jesus atoned for all our sins. He took on Himself the curse of eternal separation from God that is spiritual death. The Eternal Son of God, whose Spirit could not die, willingly undertook the most horrible way of dying an innocent human death, enduring a mysterious separation from the Father while still being fully God and one with the Father.
I can’t do that. You can’t do that. No angel could do it. Nobody could. We aren’t Jesus; we aren’t God. If you or I were to be crucified, we would feel the physical torture of it but, at the end, we would simply die that human death; one less sinner on the Third Rock.
Yet God, who could not die, opted to die. Being fully man, He was mortal. He humbled Himself to come to us as a mortal. Yet being fully God at the same time, He was also immortal. He was still all God all the time even while residing here in a mortal body.
A mortal body that could be murdered. A mortal body that could take on the punishment for the sins of others. A mortal body that could die, and render spirit from body. A mortal body mysteriously holding the immortal Holy Spirit and soul of the Most High.
This was the man who would call us brother and sister, friend, follower, child, sinner yet saint. He who followed every rule when we wouldn’t would willingly, willfully go to the cross, to the pole, to the tree, to hang there in agony and die, crying out “it is finished” to proclaim the victory over cursed death that only He could win.
For further reading: Deuteronomy 21:23, Acts 5:30, Galatians 3:14
Lord Jesus, You won the victory over death, making us righteous through Your blood. Thank You.
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