“…becoming a CURSE…so that the BLESSING might come…”

What is the rationale behind Galatians 3:13-14?  It is by no means obvious, otherwise the true solution to the nature of Christ’s “atoning work” would have [re!]emerged long ago.  Once clearly glimpsed, the solution can never be forgotten:  Christ’s being made a curse was a criminal act whose wickedness exceeds any enormity ever perpetrated by the Jewish nation.  It was a SIN of staggering magnitude!  But because Jesus, the anointed Son of God, was sinless, innocent, blameless, flawless, and just, God was justified by His own justice to reverse that unjust curse by raising him from among the dead and exalting him with transcending glory/credit/ proof as the Messiah, the Lord of all, which entailed the inheritance of all the blessing promised to Abraham (and, by the same token, to David–both covenants being thereby fulfilled simultaneously).

This was the most central evangelical act of Divine justice:  God’s repayment or overcompensation of His Son for his unjust treatment and suffering of humiliating abuses.  Jesus was granted the award (dikaioma) of agelong, endless life and royal sovereignty.  The blessings of such an exalted Divine status were, in turn, bestowed on all who trust him.  [3/21/96]

Messiah earned the right to have sons and heirs…  No!  Rather, to have  joint-heirs with him in “the wealth of his glory (Eph. 1:18, 3:16)!  To such glories the Son was a stranger before his descent.  Jesus has been appropriately overcompensated for his suffering of abuse, thus he shall now receive glory from human beings for the ages of the ages–something (“properties”) which he certainly did not possess before his exaltation!  (Note on Anselm’s Cur Deus Homo.)  [3/96]

“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.  As, then, he hears that he is infirm, then, indeed, he remains in the place in which he was, two days.”  (Jn. 11:5-6)

Why did Jesus do that?  The answer is to be found in similar patterns throughout Scripture.  The love of God allows, even prescribes, evils in order to unveil His heart of love and His power to reverse them by overcompensation.   Likewise, Jesus was even forsaken in his Father’s love at the Cross.  For this was to serve as the ultimate demonstration that even such a God-forsaken extremity is powerless to prevent gracious ultimate vindication and fitting restoration.  Thus, even though it is quite true that, If you were here, my brother would not have died” (Jn. 11:21, 32), it was equally true, although not at the moment yet apparent, that even now that Death had swallowerd its hapless victim, Jesus could still reverse the fate of Lazarus and force Hades to disgorge him forthwith!

“What shall be separating us from the love of God in Christ Jesus?….Nay!  In all [things] we are more than conquering through Him who loves us.  For I am persuaded that [bottom line:  absolutely nothing!] will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:35, 37, 39)  [3/26/96]

The Biblical interpretation of mediocrity goes on interpreting and interpreting Christ’s words until it gets out of them its own spiritless [trivial] meaning–and then, after having removed all difficulties, it is tranquillized, and appeals confidently to Christ’s words!

It quite escapes the attention of mediocrity that hereby it generates a new difficulty, surely the most comical difficulty it is possible to imagine, that God should let himself be born, that the Truth should have come into the world…in order to make trivial remarks.  And likewise the new difficulty as to how one is to explain that Christ could be crucified.  For it is not usual in this world of triviality to apply the penalty of death for making trivial remarks, so that the crucifixion of Christ becomes both inexplicable and comical, since it is comical to be crucified because one has made trivial remarks.

— Søren Kierkegaard, Attack Upon Christendom.  Princeton University Press, 1944 [Copenhagen, 1855], p. 197.  [3/28/96]



Filed under The Atonement

2 responses to ““…becoming a CURSE…so that the BLESSING might come…”

  1. Julian

    I think I like your interpretation of Paul better than mine. Paul was referring to Deuteronomy 21:

    22 “And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is accursed by God; you shall not defile your land which the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance.

    My interpretation was that God had “cursed” Jesus by placing our sins on him, so that when the demons tortured Jesus to death, they also destroyed our sins, freeing us from the curse.

    But I think your interpretation is better. I think verse 22 makes clear that there is a pre-condition that the man has committed a crime punishable by death. If that condition is not met, there is no reason to think that God would curse him. Instead, God would reverse whatever curse the demons were trying to put on him.

    • Thanks for the vote of confidence, Julian! But actually, I think your version of my interpretation is even better than mine! I wrote that nearly twenty years ago. It’s up for a bit of tweaking in view of my further reflections (I’ve covered this textual ground many times, both in other published posts and in future posts of my notes) and your fresh reading. The idea of a “precondition” is important to articulate–something I don’t recall actually having done. You’ve said it crisply. Thank you.

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