If someone has committed a crime worthy of death and is executed and then hanged on a tree,the body must never remain on the tree overnight. You must bury the body that same day, for anyone hanging on a tree is cursed of God. Deuteronomy 21:22–23 NLT
Rereading this ancient command thoughtfully and prayerfully, we detect shadows of Calvary. This Hebrew law gives a preview of Love.
Centuries later, a high priest rudely demanded that the Son of God answer spurious charges hurled against Him. On the verge of slaughter, Jesus remained silent. When the high priest misused God’s name to pressure Him to reveal whether He was the Messiah, Jesus replied, “Yes, I am. And what’s more, in the future the world will see Me majestically enthroned at God’s right hand and returning triumphantly on the clouds of heaven.” Horrified, the high priest tore his robe and ruled Jesus had committed blasphemy, a capital crime.
The Sanhedrin returned a guilty verdict, and innocent Jesus was deemed worthy of the death penalty. The flawless Lamb was sacrificed so you and I could be friends with God. His death in our place commends Him as worthy of our highest devotion.
When God’s dear Son was crucified, punctilious Jews did not want to see His body left on the cross the next day, since that was the Passover. So they requested that the Roman governor take the body down. The day of Jesus’ vicarious death was more critical than their “special Sabbath.” That dark day the Father’s obedient Son was wounded for humanity’s rebellion, flogged mercilessly so people could find mercy in relationship with God, and hurt to the depths of His soul so the spiritually sick could get well.
Jesus was mocked, so we could inherit a mansion. He was deserted, so we could delight in the pleasure of My company. He was spat upon, so we could be shielded from the effects of sin. He was bruised, so we could be blessed. He shouldered a heavy cross, so we could wear a crown. He was crucified, so we could be changed. He experienced agony, so we could experience ecstasy. He went to hell for a while, so we could go to heaven forever.
Hanging on a tree on Skull Hill, Jesus took upon Himself the insult for our wrongdoing. Others may curse the Savior, but He has transformed our life, so we show our love by blessing Him. Jesus offers us life’s greatest challenge—self-denial, cross bearing, and walking in His footsteps. To the world, this appears to be suicide; in reality, it is the only path to life.
Johnny R. Almond
Pastor, Hull’s Memorial Baptist Church – Friends on a Journey of Faith
Author, Gentle Whispers from Eternity—Scripture Personalized
This devotional based on day 102 of Gentle Whispers from Eternity