What does it mean that Jesus was cursed by being on the cross?


Galatians 3:13

NKJV - 13 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").

Clarify Share Report Asked June 22 2016 1539050103 Kyle Gillette

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Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
In the verse cited in the question (Galatians 3:13), Paul is referring back to Deuteronomy 21:22-23 in the Old Testament. In those verses, Moses (who was speaking or recapitulating words that God had instructed him to convey to Israel) told the Israelites, "If a man has committed a sin worthy of death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God), so that you do not defile your land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance."

In addition to being a law for Israel to follow, this was also a prophetic foreshadowing of the manner in which Jesus would be executed. It indicates that, when Jesus was crucified (hung on a "tree", as the wooden cross was sometimes called), he became accursed -- not from anything that He Himself had done (since He was totally without sin from the moment of His conception throughout all of His life), but with the judgment of God upon the sin of all humanity from eternity past to eternity future, which He underwent on humanity's behalf, so that God might then forgive the sins of anyone who placed their faith in Jesus' death and resurrection (rather than in their own imperfect righteousness) to make them acceptable to God, and to allow them to live eternally in His presence.

The idea of sin bringing a curse upon humanity was first mentioned in Genesis 3:17-29, after Adam and Eve had sinned by disobeying the only command that God had given them. As a consequence of this action, God informed Adam that the whole earth was now cursed, and would only yield its produce to man through painful toil, at the end of which each person would then die, rather than living forever, as God had originally intended.

Even the giving of the Law to Israel did not change this situation, since no one was capable of keeping the Law perfectly, as God required.

However, there were passages even in the Old Testament indicating an understanding on the part of some of the prophets whom God sent to Israel that humanity's ultimate salvation, with the restoration of the possibility of eternal life in God's presence, would come not by our works, but by faith (Habakkuk 2:4) in the One whom God would send to redeem humanity from its sin (Isaiah 53), and whom God had originally promised to send immediately after the first sin had been committed (Genesis 3:15).

June 22 2016 1 response Vote Up Share Report

Dscf1720 Myron Robertson Seeking God's heart
There are 10 Hebrew words that are translated as curse, curses, cursed, etc, in the Old Testament. Except for kharem, which is normally translated as "doomed to destruction" in many modern translations or devoted in most other translations, these words fall under one of three main categories. Either they speak of the penalty for sin, the abhorrence and hatred others feel for the (accused) sinner, or the shame the sinner feels after finally admitting that his actions are sinful. 

In terms of redemption law, which Jesus largely fulfilled at the cross (there are certain details that are yet to be fulfilled -- see Rev 20 among other texts) the primary application is that Jesus has taken the penalties for all sins upon himself. Three of the words mentioned above are sometimes translated as blasphemy, but more often are translated appoint or account. My sins are placed on Jesus account. As a result it is as if he bore the actual guilt because God has written that penalty in Jesus account in the record books (and he has already paid that debt in full at the cross); as a result he also bears the shame as if it was he, not me, who committed these sins.

In theory all of this is already done by his death on the cross, and there are those who claim it is fully a done deal. Others point to the fact that we are all still sinners to prove that really none of it has really been done and there are things I must do to save myself. There are also all kinds of teachings in between these two extremes, but few can actually prove from scripture what they believe; where these proofs are possible they are too long to present here, so I will simply summarize because the proof does lie somewhere in between the extremes.

It is true that Jesus has done it all already because this whole process was planned, and from God's perspective completed before the foundation of the ages - usually translated as world - (Jn 17:24, Eph 1:4, He 4:3, He 9:29, 1 Pe 1:20, Rev 13:8, Rev 17:8), but the actual process requires time from our perspective; much of that process is still future.

Everyone must go through Jesus who is the door of salvation (Jn 14:6), but no one goes to Jesus unless the father drags him (Jn 6:44). The word usually translated "draw" here actually speaks of a person being compelled to the court, at the least by subpoena, but more often brought before the judge in irons because he refused to come willingly after receiving that subpoena. Only then do we finally admit Jesus is our redeemer and submit to his teaching.

Even though God drags me to this understanding from my perspective I first admit that what I have been doing is wrong (confession) then start seeking the right (just) way to do things (repentance). Once the penalty for my sins has been paid in full forgiveness is required by law (no simple text on this one; the studies I have written in the past run around 10+ pages to prove the whole process); yet Jesus paid that entire penalty at the cross, long before I was born but until I have confessed and repented that payment is not actually credited to my account. It is very simple but it is not near as simplistic we generally teach. 

So Jesus bears the curse (penalty) of the law because he has paid that full penalty for me at the cross. Jesus also bears the curse (shame) of the sin because he took that upon himself at the cross, yet most of us refuse under any circumstance to transfer that from ourselves to him. The need for this is shown by the sacrifice in Lev 5:14-19 and 7:1-10 which depending on translation is called the trespass offering or the guilt offering. In its details this offering looks exactly like the sin offering. In practice we allow Jesus to take the penalty of the sin, but insist on forcing the sinner to retain the guilt/shame. This lack of forgiveness is a sin against one God has already forgiven. We must transfer this guilt/shame to Jesus as well; we cannot retain it in ourselves or against other sinners.

January 20 2017 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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