Jesus: Exiled and Resurrected (Galatians, Part 31)
This week we continue exploring the book of Galatians using a question-and-answer format.
12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 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”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
How has Christ redeemed God’s people from “the curse of the law” (v. 13) and brought “the blessing of Abraham” to the Gentiles (v.14)?
(This blog post is something of a conclusion to the lines of thought presented in the last three posts in this series, so if you have not read those you may want to do so before proceeding.)
- Israel had broken God’s covenant and had been sent into exile as discipline.
- Though the people had eventually returned to the land, there was a strong sense that the nation was still “in exile,” since God had not returned to the temple to dwell with his people and Israel was being ruled by oppressive, foreign nations.
- Since Israel was God’s chosen means to bring the nations to himself and reverse the curse that had fallen on the entire creation (i.e., death, sickness, sadness, various forms of evil, etc.), the fact that she had not been fully restored from exile caused enormous problems for Jewish people who reflected on such things.
- Something had to be done to set Israel back on her course and move God’s plan of redemption forward.
- In the midst of intense longing for the restoration of Israel, Jesus of Nazareth emerges and announces that in him the kingdom of God (i.e., the restoration of the world) has been inaugurated.
- Jesus functions as the representative head of Israel, and as her representative, he keeps the covenant perfectly and fulfills all of the requirements for Israel to receive God’s full blessings (see Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28).
- As Israel’s representative, he is responsible not only for procuring blessings for her through his obedience, but he is also responsible for enduring the punishments / curses she brought upon herself through her disobedience (chief among those punishments being the exile where she is driven away from the land and away from the presence of God).
- Jesus experiences exile in place of Israel, when he is crucified outside of the city of Jerusalem and he is abandoned by God to death.
- Jesus “returns from exile” when he is resurrected! He appears to his disciples and announces that now God’s mission to rescue the entire world can proceed (see the Great Commission in Matthew 28) because he has accomplished as Israel’s representative what Israel had failed to do on her own.
- Now, through faith in Jesus Christ, anyone—whether they are ethnic Jews or Gentiles—can be brought into the family of God, cleansed of their disobedience, receive credit for keeping the covenant perfectly (because Jesus kept it for them), and join God’s mission of drawing all nations to himself. (And, of course, the Spirit empowers us to live holy lives and bear witness to our God to the rest of the world.)
And in this way, Jesus rescues his people from the curse of the law and brings the blessing of Abraham to all!