Cursed

Jesus died under God’s curse to lift God’s curse from me

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Read: Deuteronomy 21

If someone guilty of a capital offence is put to death and their body is exposed on a pole, you must not leave the body hanging on the pole overnight. Be sure to bury it that same day, because anyone who is hung on a pole is under God’s curse. (Deuteronomy 21:22-23)

Reflect:

For some of the Old Testament, it can be hard to find the ‘Jesus Connection’. Not so here. These verses clearly refer to an execution in a similar manner to Roman crucifixion, by which Jesus was put to death.

This is odd, because according to the previous verse (21:21), and the rest of Moses’ sermons in Deuteronomy, Israelite executions were to be carried out by stoning. At the time Moses spoke these words, the Roman Empire did not yet exist as a political entity, let alone perform crucifixion. Yet Moses gave a clear description of the death of one cursed by God, a description that in effect prophesied the crucifixion of Jesus.

Paul, in his letter to the Galatians quoted verse 23, to explain the purpose of Christ’s death under God’s curse:

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written, “Cursed is anyone hung on a pole.” He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Jesus Christ, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. (Galatians 3:13-14)

crux:

Jesus died under God’s curse to lift God’s curse from me.

Respond:

LORD God Almighty,

Your grace and generosity in the gospel are clearly displayed here in Deuteronomy. Thank you for Paul, who explained to the Galatians (and to me) that if I rely on the works of the law to save me I am accursed, but that Jesus’ death under your curse lifts that curse from me.

Thank you for redeeming me from your curse, and offering me a life of blessing and honour for your glory. Thank you for your Holy Spirit, who lives in me by faith in Jesus Christ, just as you promised.

LORD, may I not be shy about reading my Bible in this busy airport. May I be confident to be seen studying your word, spending time with my Saviour Jesus. Do not let me fear judgement or rebuke, but help me to be fearlessly honest in this necessarily public worship today.

Thank you for your peace and joy in your gospel in the midst of a busy, noisy, crowded place.

Amen.

Father

God the Father is now my Father

Read: John 20

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” (John 20:17)

Reflect:

In this gospel, God the Father is mentioned about 100 times. Always, up to this point, Jesus has spoken of him as “the Father” or, more intimately, as “my Father”. In his prayer (John 17), Jesus addressed God as “Father… Holy Father… Righteous Father.” As narrator, John the evangelist uses the words “the Father” or “his Father” to refer to God.

But here – and only here – Jesus refers to God not only as “my Father” but also as “your Father.” Jesus’ death on a cross and his resurrection from the tomb have changed the very fabric of the universe. No longer is God removed from his people: he is their Father, our Father, my Father, your Father.

Jesus accomplished the adoption of an entire kingdom, bringing me and millions of others into the family of God, so we may cry to God with the Spirit’s help, “Abba Father! Dearest Dad!”

I am no longer separated from God by the expanse my sin created and kept between us. Now, Jesus Christ is my brother and I am his sister. God the Father is my Father and I am his daughter. And just as Jesus ascended to be with his Father, so, one day, shall I.

Crux:

God the Father is now my Father!

Respond:

LORD God Almighty,

You are Jesus’ Father and you are my Father. This is immeasurably precious to me.

Abba, Dad, you have chosen me and called me to follow; you have adopted me and appointed me to belong. You set your heart of loving-kindness, grace, mercy and compassion upon me. You sought me and fought for me and bought me with Christ’s blood.

Now I am yours, your child, your daughter, forever more. I belong to you and can never be taken from your family. There will be no other family for me ever.

I belong to your family:
You, holy and righteous Father, are my Father.
You, dead and risen Son, are my brother.
You, wise and true Spirit, dwell within my spirit.

Thank you for wanting me. Thank you for winning me. Thank you for welcoming me into your family, the very family of God.

May I always live as a true daughter who cherishes her Father’s love and lives to love him.

Amen.

King

Jesus is King and his throne is a Cross

Read: John 19

It was the day of Preparation for Passover; it was about noon.
“Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.
But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”
“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.
“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.
Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. (John 19:14-16)

Reflect:

Every single time I read this true story, I am shocked anew at the boldness of the Jewish chief priests in declaring, “We have no king but Caesar!”

The Jews did have a king: the LORD, the Almighty God was their king. But in this instant, it seemed to them that they would achieve their own ends faster and better if they denied God their heavenly king and proclaimed someone else, the Roman caesar, to be their king. What blasphemy!

Even if you take into account that these Jews did not believe Jesus was sent by God to be their king, it was still total hypocrisy to condemn one man to death for “claim[ing] to be king of the Jews” (John 19:21) while proclaiming another mere human man to be their only king.

I call it shocking, but I shouldn’t be shocked. I, too, often seek to enthrone someone other than Jesus as king over my life. All too often, I want to establish myself as my own king. This is my sin.

This is why Jesus died: He was king, not only of the Jews, but of me, of all people. And the throne upon which he was crowned was a Roman cross.

Christ on the Cross
Illustration copyright Chrissie D.
Permission to print this image is granted to families or churches for use in teaching about Jesus Christ. This image must NOT be sold or used for any commercial reason. Please do NOT copy it to your website or blog.

Crux:

Jesus is King and his throne is a Cross.

Respond:

LORD God Almighty,

I declare Jesus of Nazareth is King – not just King of the Jews, as Pilate listed on his crucifixion notice. Jesus of Nazareth is King of all the universe, and Jesus of Nazareth is King of me. May it ever be so!

May I always, in every moment of my everyday ordinary Christian life, humbly submit to my sovereign king: Jesus the Christ, Jesus the Messiah, Jesus your Anointed One, Jesus of Nazareth who died on a cross for me.

May I be a willing and obedient citizen of Jesus’ kingdom. May I never seek to subvert Jesus’ rule or overthrow his reign in my life. May I submit and find joy and satisfaction in Jesus my king.

LORD, I don’t want to be a hypocrite. Please help me to submit to Jesus, through the voice and work of your Holy Spirit in my heart. Please help me to exalt you as King in my life.

Help me to submit in a righteous and holy way to those human authorities you have set over me: my pastor-husband Jeff, our church elders Dawson and David, my bosses at work, my nation’s elected government and its officials.

Amen.

The LORD

Jesus is the LORD, the One True God.

Read: John 8

“I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.” (John 8:24)

So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father taught me.” (John 8:28)

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, your are really my disciples.” (John 8:31)

Reflect:

Just what was Jesus claiming when he declared, “I am he”?

From John 8:58-59, I can see that the Jews considered this statement to be blasphemy worthy of death by stoning. Jesus was claiming God’s identity, the name “I AM WHO I AM” (first revealed to Moses at the burning bush, Exodus 3:14-15), for himself. In effect, Jesus was saying, “I, Jesus, am the LORD; I, Jesus, am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the flesh.”

It doesn’t surprise me that the Law-abiding Jews freaked out and tried to stone Jesus. According to Jesus, my eternal future hinges on my response to this statement. If I don’t believe it, I will die with the burden of my sins, guilty forever with no hope of parole.

But Jesus also said that those who know that Jesus is God are able to know this because Jesus has been lifted up, crucified. I know Jesus is the LORD, because Jesus was crucified.

But more than that, I know Jesus is God because I lifted him up. In a very real way, I have crucified Jesus: my sins brought Jesus to the cross; my forgiveness was sought by Jesus on the cross.

So, because I am guilty of the death of Jesus, I have been given grace to cling to Jesus’ teaching, to know that Jesus is the LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Because I am guilty of causing Jesus’ death, I am extended mercy to be Jesus’ disciple, and I will be raised up to eternal life.

This is heavy, hard teaching. No wonder so few had the faith to become God’s disciples.

Crux:

Jesus is the LORD, the One True God.

Respond:

LORD God Almighty,

When I begin my prayers to you with these words, I always consider I’m praying to God the Father, the first person of the Trinitarian Godhead. Yet today I acknowledge that Jesus Christ, God the Son, second person of the Trinity is also inescapably the LORD God Almighty.

And I humbly acknowledge that I can’t get my thoughts to comprehend how this might be possible:

That you, LORD God, sent your Son – and you, LORD God, are the Son who was sent;
You, LORD God, sent the Spirit – and you, LORD God, are the Spirit who was sent.

You are Trinity and Unity, the only True God, God alone, the one and only God – and you are Father, Son and Spirit.

You died because my sins made your death necessary. I’m so sorry for my sins that did this, yet so thankful for your mercy that dealt with my sins. LORD God, Jesus, who is the LORD and my Lord, thank you, thank you, thank you.

Amen.