The Cross and Death

Paul spoke plainly!  “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them” (Gal. 3:10). The law demands, “Keep the law or die.” We cannot keep it. We are sinners, and sinners cannot keep the law. The law demands from us a righteousness that we do not have and can never have, no matter how hard we work at it. We will always miss the mark and fail. God’s law will always be faithful to do its thing. It makes known that we are cursed – dead in trespasses and sins. So where is the escape? How can this curse be removed?

It has been removed.  Read carefully these words written over 2000 years ago. “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”), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Gal. 3:13). Jesus Christ bore the curse of the law for us by hanging on a tree. It was not mere chance that He died on a cross. The place of His death had everything to do with the final judgment of death imposed by God’s holy law.

The law, because it is connected with man’s sin in Adam, is God’s executioner pronouncing that everyone is guilty and condemned. The law’s role as an assassin is illustrated graphically in the Old Testament. “And if a man has committed a sin worthy of death, and he be put to death, you shall hang him on a tree. But the body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day (for he who is hanged is accursed by God)” (Deut. 21:22-23). If a Jew broke a law which was to result in death, he was to be stoned to death and his body hung from a tree. This lawbreaker suspended on the tree graphically illustrated to everyone that God’s Holy Law had been broken and His judgment of death had been completed. The death of Christ is unmistakably tied to the curse imposed by the Mosaic Law – Jesus Christ bore the curse imposed by the law by hanging on a tree! Amazing! Where Christ died was crucial, but how He died was just as important. 

In order to understand His death, we must recall how the first Adam died. Death does not mean a ceasing to exist; it means separation. Adam and Eve were separated from God the very moment that Adam sinned. This division was made clear by their stitching together fig leaf coverings to hide their guilt before God. This death was then passed on by his corrupt seed – father to son – down through history, infecting the entire race. Every human being born into this world from then until now is born physically alive but spiritually separated from God – with the exception of just One.

Jesus Christ was not subject to Adam’s contaminated race because He was supernaturally born of a virgin. He, therefore, bypassed Adam’s sin and came into the slave market of the spiritually dead as a freeborn human being – physically alive and spiritually alive, the only one of His kind. The Father and Son enjoyed a special personal intimacy with one another throughout eternity. They had never been separated. This is evident in the New Testament in that the Second Person of the Trinity always referred to the First Person as “My Father.” The times are too numerous to mention. This is what makes a single moment so memorable. Jesus was hanging from a Roman cross.  Look closely at Matthew 27:45-46: “Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour [three o’clock] Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?’” He did not say, “My Father, My Father,” but He used the impersonal “My God, My God.”

This cannot be missed! This reveals a mark of separation similar to God’s saying to Adam in Genesis 3, “Adam, where are you?” Jesus Christ died spiritually! Here was the perfect Lamb of God bearing the sin of the imperfect children of Adam’s fallen race. At that moment, God the Father touched His Holy Son with our sin. He turned His back on His Son and allowed Him to die the death that we should have died. Christ at that moment on the cross received in His body our just judgment of death. He bore the curse of death that was meant for us. He became sin for us. Our Lord, having finished His work, then said – and please note – “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” And He died! Wow! Blessings!