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 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." Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for "The righteous shall live by faith." But the law is not of faith, rather "The one who does them shall live by them." 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, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. (ESV)

Starkly and Clearly

Thursday of Epiphany 2

21 January 2016

One of my favorite Bible texts is Galatians 3:13: " 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.'" How deeply the love of God for us sinful humans runs! He condescends to hang about the neck of His beloved Son the very curse that our sins have deserved and that we sinners ought to have borne. For us the Son takes to Himself that curse which the law rightly pronounces against us. The God who is "for us" takes what is a "against us" into Himself. What a huge joy ought to spring up in our hearts when we hear of this absolute and unmerited grace.
Who could have presumed upon God that He would do such a thing? Who could have known that the One who was Himself the personification of righteousness and holiness would take the filth of our sin upon Himself? Who could express the unthinkable thought that the Son should say to a poor miserable sinner like me, "Stand aside, my dear child, while I take the punishment that is yours and grant you what is mine, while you receive blessings and I receive curses, while you receive life and I receive death"? But this is what Paul is saying in this text. And so while it sounds quite deathly, speaking of curses and hangings, it is the very voice of the life given to me. Paul lays it out starkly and clearly.


Martin Luther

"Paul guarded his words carefully and spoke precisely. And here ag ain a distinction must be made. Paul's words clearly show this. For he does not say that Christ became a curse on His own account, but that He became a curse 'for us.' Thus the entire emphasis is on the phrase 'for us.' For Christ is innocent so far as His own p erson is concerned; therefore He should not have been hanged from the tree. But because, according to the Law, every thief should have been hange d, therefore, according to the l aw of Moses, Christ Himself should have been hanged; for He bore the person of a sinner and a thief, and not merely of one but of all sinners and thieves. For we are sinners and thieves, and therefore we are worthy of death and eternal damnation. But Christ took all our sins upon Himself, and for them He died on the cross. Therefore it was appropriate for Him to become a thief and, as Isaiah says, to be 'numbered among the thieves' ( Is 53:12 )."

Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians, 3.12
Lord Christ, you became a curse for me that I might become the righteousness of God in You. Grant me that joy which springs from a truth faith in Your gracious substitution for me, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
For parents of rebellious children, that they might model the patience of Christ for them while directing their lives according to the holy Law of God
For Ruth Sovis, who has been diagnosed with Frontal Temporal Lobe Dementia, that she would be comforted through being known by God

For Dave Porter, who is suffering from cancer, that the Lord Jesus would grant him strength and healing
Art: CHAMPAIGNE, Philippe de   Moses with the Ten Commandments   ( 1648)

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