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Archive for March, 2013

Galatians 3:13 says, “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…..”

What is this curse of the law the writer is talking about? Back in Deuteronomy chapter 28 Moses tells Israel that they will receive blessings for obeying the law, and curse for disobeying the law.  For obeying the law, God would bring blessings of fruitful labor, prosperity, and peace.  The first fourteen verse of the chapter is a picture of human flourishing: blessings of children, livestock, and land.

The next fifty-three verses of curses is a dark portrait of human anguishing. God would curse their labor and their livestock, and cause them to be defeated by their enemies. They would “grope at noonday, as the blind grope in darkness”. They would become a “horror, a proverb, and a byword” among the peoples of the earth. In other words, they would become an object of ridicule and scorn.  Verses 65 – 67 sum it up: “The Lord will give you a trembling heart and failing eyes and a languishing soul. Your life shall hang in doubt before you. Night and day you shall be in dread and have no assurance of your life. In the morning you shall say, ‘if only it were evening!’ and at evening you shall say, ‘if only it were morning!’  because of the dread that your heart shall feel, and the sights that your eyes shall see.”

This is the curse of the law. The curse that Israel deserved, because they did not obey the law. The same law which Jesus said could be summed up in two commands: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  We also have failed to obey this law.  And as a result, we deserve the curses. When we fail to love God, our very source of life, we no longer deserve to flourish as living human beings. We deserve the anguish any living being goes through when it is cut off from its source of life.

Yet, Christ become a curse for Israel and for us on that Friday long ago. He was cursed. His labor of love and healing was rejected by the people. He was tortured by his enemies and nailed to a tree (a curse in and of itself according to Jewish law – see the Galatians verse above).  He became an object of ridicule among both the Jews and Gentiles.  He bore the curse, so that we might receive the blessing.

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In his Image

Our sin is bad not so much because we break a list of rules, but because we misrepresent our Creator. As humans we were created to bear the image of God and to take dominion over the earth for God (Genesis 1:26). As image bearers of our creator, we are called to reflect God’s goodness to the rest of creation.  As dominion takers, we are given the job of maintaining and cultivating planet earth for the glory of God.

However, we were not content to be God’s image bearers. We often want to bear our own image – to glorify ourselves. This is known as pride. And instead of taking dominion for God, we tend to take dominion for ourselves. This is the scandal of our sin: We created to bear God’s image, and we have tarnished that image. Because of our sin, we misrepresent God’s goodness. Further, we were created to be stewards of his creation as dominion takers for God,  and we have twisted this calling to be dominion takers for ourselves.

Fortunately God came to earth to restore us to be his image bearers. The New Testament says that Jesus is the image of the invisible God. Christ came to be what we could not be: the perfect image bearer of God. And through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ – and the power of the Holy Spirit – God is making us into the image of his Son (Romans 8:29). In Christ, we are restored to be the image bearers of God.

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