Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— (Galatians 3:13 ESV)
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. (Hebrews 2:14-15 ESV)
Imagine being Adam. You have just eaten the fruit you were commanded not to eat. The words of God’s command are now echoing in your brain, and the judgment is about to fall on you. As a rebel and criminal, you stand condemned. The perfect relationship you had with your Creator has been obliterated by your disobedience. You feel distant and alone—even the intimacy and security you had with your wife now lies in ruins. There’s nothing you can do. There is no hope, only despair, only anger, only guilt. So you run to the bushes to hide and wait out the final moments of your short existence here on earth.
To your great surprise as the Lord now peers through the branches and speaks to you and your wife, as He has never spoken before, you discover that He is not only Lord over Creation that is “very good,” but He is Lord over sinful man, the serpent, and the curse. God who in wisdom and power created galaxies, is also infinitely wise and powerful to undo the evil that has entered His kingdom. You hear the Lord speaking to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Animals are put to death, blood is shed, and you are clothed with their skins. Your nakedness is covered and the Lord turns your attention to the future. Children are born to Eve in line with the promise of “your offspring … shall bruise [the serpent’s] head.” There is hope.
We really aren’t that far removed from Adam and his sin. In Adam, we all have sinned and rebelled against the holy God of the universe. We continue sinning and all stand condemned. We are hiding out in the bushes, just like our father, wondering if today will be the day. What a shock and injustice to find that the spotless Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, should insert Himself in between us and the wrath of God, becoming like us, that we might go free. How deep is the Father’s love for us!
John Owen insightfully wrote:
“…for our sakes the eternal Son of God [submitted] himself to all the evils that our natures are [subject] to, and that our sins had deserved, that we might be delivered!
How glorious is the Lord Christ on this account, in the eyes of believers! When Adam sinned, and thereby eternally, according to the sanction of the law, ruined himself and all his prosperity, he stood ashamed, afraid, trembling, as one ready to perish for ever, under the displeasure of God. Death was that which he had deserved, and immediate death was that which he looked for. In this state the Lord Christ in the promise comes to him, and says:
Poor creature! How woeful is your condition! How deformed is your appearance! What is become of the beauty, of the glory of that image of God in which you were created? How have you taken on you the monstrous shape and image of Satan? And yet your present misery, your entrance into dust and darkness, is no way to be compared with what is to ensue. Eternal distress lies at the door. But yet look up once more, and behold me, that you may have some glimpse of what is in the designs of infinite wisdom, love, and grace. Come forth from your vain shelter, your hiding-place I will put myself into your condition. I will undergo and bear that burden of guilt and punishment which would sink you eternally into the bottom of hell. I will pay that which I never took; and be made temporally a curse for you, that you may attain to eternal blessedness.
To the same purpose he speaks to convinced sinners, in the invitation he gives them to come to him….Let us, then, behold him as poor, despised, persecuted, reproached, reviled, hanged on a tree, in all, laboring under a sense of wrath of God due to our sins.”
Hallelujah, what a Savior!