Monday, June 7, 2010

Cursed on our Behalf

"Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is everyone that hangs on a tree..."
Galatians 3:13

I am not sure I have fully grasped how much grace was demonstrated to us through Christ’s death on the cross. God’s wrath for our sin was poured out on Christ as He took our sin in His body, hanging suspended between heaven and earth. In return for our sin, He clothed us in His righteousness. In that one sacrificial act, Christ reconciled us to God so we can have a personal, intimate relationship with Him. In that one act He translated our citizenship from the Kingdom of Darkness to His glorious Kingdom of light.

There are several things that stand out in regard to the crucifixion. The first is the thorn of crowns. Thorns came about as part of the curse that God gave to Adam and Eve when they sinned -- "So I will put a curse on the ground…The ground will produce thorns and weeds for you, and you will eat the plants of the field." (Gen. 2:17-18) Later, God told Moses if he did not remove all the people from the land he was giving them that they would be like thorns in his side. In Proverbs 22:5 we find, "Evil people's lives are like paths covered with thorns and traps." The Bible tells us that the fruit that the Holy spirit produces in us is love, joy, peace, patience, long suffering, etc. Max Lucado says that the fruit of sin is thorns -- spiny, prickly, cutting thorns. These thorns can include the consequences of our sin. The consequences can be the events brought about by our sin, as well as the emotions we feel when we sin--shame, disgrace, fear, discouragement, anxiety, anger, disconnection, rejection, and hurt. A person we have sinned against can also feel painful emotions, but the truth is own sin hurts us the most. We are all familiar with those "thorns." I think Christ was also familiar with the thorns when He rubbed shoulders with sinful people He loved and even more so when our sin was laid upon Him. He was overwhelmed with the same feelings we feel when we sin and He cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Don't we feel forsaken when we sin even though the Scripture says He will never forsake us? We know Christ never sinned, but He felt the same feelings caused by our sin as they were laid upon Him. 

In His grace, God gave us a beautiful picture of Christ bearing the fruit of our sin, the crown of thorns. I believe the men who laid the crown of thorns on His head did it spitefully with the intent of mocking Him. They did it without knowing it was a perfect physical picture of what was happening in the spiritual realm as Christ hung on the cross. It just goes to show that God was still in control of everything. He graciously allowed them to place the prickly crown upon His head so we would have a physical picture of exactly what was taking place. Like Joseph said of his brothers, we can say man may have meant it for evil, but God meant it for good! He wanted us to fully understand that Christ took our sin, our shame, God's wrath, and yes, even the curse for us. How ironical the symbol that man -- in his most evil state -- used to mock Him turned out to be a physical picture of God’s goodness and grace! He gave up a heavenly crown to wear a crown of thorns so we could become joint heirs with HIM!

Let’s ask ourselves a few questions: What are the emotions we feel when we sin? Why do we feel these emotions? Does it make our relationship seem more intimate with Christ when we realize the cry of anguish from the cross was because He felt our guilt, anxiety, shame, sense of rejection? Does it make it easier to come to Him to confess when we know He truly understands? Read Psalm 22. It was a prophecy of the pain that Christ would go through as our Savior. Knowing the pain He faced, He still chose to go to the cross for YOU and for ME. God chose to meet man's most hateful moment with His most loving act! Does that make sense? If we honestly look at our sinfulness, we have to say, "NO!" Yet, that is what God chose to do. That is His grace in action. That is His demonstration of deep abiding love. How do we respond to His grace, to His love--the best response is to embrace Him who was Cursed on our behalf. 

Father, I know how I bristle when I am falsely accused, misunderstood, or made fun of by someone who dislikes me. Yet, Christ took it patiently to buy me out of the slave market of sin. Thank you for sending your Son to pay for my sin. Thank you most of all for having Him bear the curse and wrath for my sin. It hurts my heart to know that the cry of anguish from the cross was because of my sin being placed upon HIM. It hurts to know that He had to feel all the ugliness of my sin and feelings I have when I blow it. Thank you for your mercy and grace. Thank you most of all for making it possible for me to have a personal relationship with You. Thank you for choosing to see only Christ’s goodness when You look at me. Thank you for the life-picture the crown of thorns represents. How painful and how shameful it must have been for Him to wear the symbol of the curse for my sin, yet the victory over my sin is so sweet. Thank you, Lord. I love you. Amen

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Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!