Great Gospel Texts: Galatians 3:13

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’)” (Gal 3:13).[1]

A curse and a tree. We need to go back to the very beginning of mankind, right into the middle of paradise, to find where it all started. There were trees in abundance – trees of all sizes, colours and fruits. But there was one tree of unique importance, one that God created and designed to teach men obedience and the fear of the Lord. It was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God told Adam and Eve not to eat of it; disobedience meant certain death. We don’t know how high or wide it was, nor the color or size of its fruit. But it was of great importance. It was through Adam’s reaction to this tree, his eating of the fruit of it, that led to sin’s entering the world, and death because of sin. Wherever you find yourself in the world today, the effects of what happened at that tree are very real. Sickness, fragmented families, broken hearts, etc. are all evident effects of sin’s entrance into the world.

Eventually, the law of God was introduced to the world. Man could understand how short he falls from ever repairing what was broken at that tree. In fact, the Bible says, “For by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom 3:20). Because we sin, we die; the curse brings death. We can try to satisfy God’s law on our own, but the Bible tells us that if we “keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point” (Jas 2:10) we are guilty of all and deserve the death of one who is cursed.

Now consider the same curse but a different tree – in fact, a cross. We, in our guilty, woeful state, stand condemned before God, deserving of death, the death suitable for one who is cursed. But in tremendous mercy and immeasurable grace, one came along and paid our ransom price, our redemption price, one who said, “I will die the death that this cursed one deserves.” And it was outside the city of Jerusalem, some 2,000 years ago, that the holy, harmless, sinless Son of God, Jesus Christ, paid the ransom price. He became cursed for us by dying the death reserved for those who are cursed. The law stated, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.” Having no sin of His own, He paid in full the price that the law of God demands for our sin. He hung on the cruel tree, and took men’s mocking and profanity, their shame and spitting. But more importantly, in the three darkest hours in this world’s history, He took God’s holy wrath upon Himself. And now He offers a blessing instead of a curse. Having paid the redemption price, He offers you freedom from the bondage of sin and the law’s curse. How blessed it will be in a coming day to dwell forever where the tree of life is. “And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him” (Rev 22:3).

[1] Bible quotations in this article are from the NKJV.