It was a dark day. There was scheming behind closed doors. There was shouting and scorning from the crowds. And there was hateful physical cruelty. This is a description of the dark day in which Jesus was “Tried by sinful men, torn and beaten, then nailed to a cross of wood”. Why did this happen? Why did He have to suffer on the cross? Often when we think about the cross we think of the physical torture. Without question, this was horrifying. The physical pain inflicted upon Him went beyond what we could ever imagine. But there is something that happened at the cross that is far more shocking, and Spurgeon called it “the soul of His suffering”. That is what I want to speak about in this post. Jesus suffered on the cross because this was the only way to remove the curse that hangs over all of us.
In Galatians 3:10-14 we learn about two curses. The first curse is experienced by all humanity and it leaves us ruined. The second curse is experienced by Christ and it provides those who trust in Him with redemption. Before I consider this powerful achievement of His suffering at the cross, we need to learn why it was necessary. In other words, before we consider the good news, we need to be reminded of the bad news. I have two headings – ruined by the curse and rescued from the curse.
1. RUINED BY THE CURSE
Paul writes, “For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them” (Galatians 3:10). This verse reveals that all humanity have fallen short of God’s requirements and therefore are under His curse. The curse mentioned in this verse is God’s judgment on sin. This doesn’t sound nice, but this is what God’s Word says. We like to think that we are pretty good. After all, we can always seem to find someone that is worse than us. But regardless of our self or peer related evaluation, we are living our lives under a curse.
Can we remove the curse that is upon us? Many people think that by living a good life, being a nice person, going to church, coming along to a Good Friday service, or by being generous will increase the odds. Now all those things are lovely and beneficial, but the problem is they don’t meet God’s standard.
In most universities, if you get 50% on an exam, it is considered a pass. The highest grade is a high distinction, and this will be awarded if you get 80% and higher. But when it comes to God’s standard, He requires perfection. Not 50% obedience, 75%, or even 99%. He expects 100%. This leaves every single human being in a helpless situation because none of us are perfect. The outcome of this situation is worse than we could ever imagine. Again, notice what this verse says, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them”. We are cursed and as each day goes by the weight of this curse is increasingly crushing us. God has turned His favourable face from us. His just anger is resting on us, and we deserve His eternal fury in the Lake of Fire. We do not know when I lives will end, but we need to understand that even now the axe is ready to strike at the root of the tree. Our life is lived by a thread and at the appointed time it will be cut. When that day comes, we will face the fullness of God’s fury against us. How can we escape this judgment? The only way is for this curse to be removed. I have established the point that the cure cannot be found in humanity. Yes, we can make medical advances, produce cutting edge technology, but we cannot remove the curse and its eternal effects, because all of us are cursed. This brings me to my final point.
2. RESCUED FROM THE CURSE
We now move from the bad news to the good news. We have failed to obey God’s Law perfectly, but Jesus did what none of us could ever do. We read in Galatians 3:13, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (3:13a). This is a shocking statement. If it were not written here, I could not utter the words “Christ cursed for us”. But He did become “a curse for us” as this text says. How? Jesus came into this world as the substitute for sinners. He left the glory of Heaven, and came humbly by being born in Bethlehem. He grew and lived a perfect life. Jesus was “holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners” (Heb. 7:26). He was then unjustly tried by the religious elite, Pontius Pilate, and King Herod. He was sentenced to be crucified. He suffered on the cross, and experienced the full fury of the wrath of God. He lived this perfect life and died this death in our place. The life we failed to live, He lived. The fury we deserve to have unleashed on us for eternity, He absorbed at the cross. The prophet Isaiah stated, “he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” (Is. 53:5).
By faith alone in Christ alone, is the only way you can be freed from the curse. The condemnation from the Law of God will be silenced. Because Christ took the hit in your place, you can walk as one who has been loosed from chains and realised from the crushing burden of the curse. You are now free to serve the Lord your God and walk in His ways. The consequences of such freedom are stated in Galatians 3:14 “so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith”.
There are two groups of people in this world. Those who are under the curse of God, and those who have been rescued from that curse and are blessed. How can you tell if you are among the blessed? The answer is, if you are entirely trusting in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation. If you are trusting in your reputation, good deeds, or anything else, then you are cursed. Turn to Christ and find salvation in Him alone!