And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. (Deuteronomy 21:22-23c)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. This seems to be a bit of a throw-away line. It doesn’t make much sense in the context of the rest of Deuteronomy 21, other than the fact that it is indeed another law heaped out for the masses to fulfill. There is no real connection between unsolved murders and marrying the women whom you have made captive. And as for the direct tie to inheritance rights and how to treat a rebellious son, your guess is as good as mine.
But if you read the Old Testament in the light of the New, if you have the lens of Jesus to peer through as you trudging your way through Moses and his first five books of the Bible, then throw-away verses like this tend to have a little more meaning to them.
Paul seemed to figure this out. Or better said, the Holy Spirit apparently enlightened Paul in this matter and so he has gone ahead and enlightened us as well. In the third chapter to his letter to the Galatians, Paul is arguing against the works of the Law. For truly everyone is cursed by the demands of the Law. It lays out for us an impossibly difficult task: Just read all of Deuteronomy and tell me if you can pull it off.
But Christ has freed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us. That is what Paul says in Galatians 3:13. But he isn’t just making up some new sort of theology. He is harkening back to Moses, to our text in Deuteronomy. Jesus is that dead guy who is hanging on the tree. And yes, He is the One who is cursed by God. Cursed by God because your sin and my sin is upon Him. Cursed by God because Jesus has become sin.
And in this, we have faith and are saved. For faith is of the Gospel, not of the Law. Works are of the Law, but we are saved by the Gospel, by faith in the Gospel, by faith in the Gospel of Jesus, by faith in the Gospel of Jesus hanging on the Cross for you. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Upon the cross extended See, world, your Lord suspended.Your Savior yields His breath. The Prince of Life from heaven Himself has freely given To shame and blows and bitter death.
Your soul in griefs unbounded, Your head with thorns surrounded, You died to ransom me. The cross for me enduring, The crown for me securing, You healed my wounds and set me free. (“Upon the Cross Extended” LSB 453, st.1, 5)
Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch