March 10, 2011

Triply Condemned

Galatians 3:10-14

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us …
Galatians 3:13


At the heart of the cross was the great reversal—the Holy One of God gave up his life for condemned criminals. In fact, Jesus died as a “triply condemned” criminal.

Jesus was condemned by both the Jews and the Romans. He claimed to be God, and that was the ultimate crime for the Jews. He claimed to be King, and that was the ultimate crime for the Romans.

But Jesus was also condemned by another—by God.

We see this in the way he died. Pilate, the Roman governor, asked the crowd, “What do you want me to do with Jesus?” (See Mark 15:1-15.) They had many options. They could cut off his head. Or poison him. Or throw him to the lions. Or stone him.

Why? Because being hung on a tree, suspended between heaven and earth, rejected by both God and humanity, was a cursed death. Being crucified was the ultimate condemnation because it demonstrated that the criminal was cursed by God.

That’s what the cross was about—condemnation. Jesus was triply condemned.

When we understand that, we may say with the songwriter, “Ah, dearest Jesus, how have you offended … ?” And it’s true—he had caused no offense. But he died so that condemned criminals like us could be saved.

Dearest Jesus, give us the eyes to see our crimes clearly so that we may see the depths of your love But they said, “Crucify him. Hang him on a tree.” for us. Amen.

About the author — Stanley Mast

Beginning in 1971, Rev. Stanley Mast has served churches in Missouri, Colorado, and Michigan. After teaching at Calvin Theological Seminary for a few years, he was the minister of preaching at LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, until his retirement in 2012. Stan and his wife, Sharon, enjoy time with their two sons and five grandchildren.

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