Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. ~ Galatians 3:13-14
Some have taken Galatians 3:13 (referenced above) which says that Jesus was made to be a curse for us to support their claims that Jesus became the object of God’s righteous wrath when he died for our sins.
Those who teach such things often present the cross in a manner as if what actually happened to Jesus in the flesh wasn’t sufficient, and therefore some other manner of suffering or torture was needed, such as God punishing Jesus by spiritually condemning him as a substitution.
However, Paul qualifies his declaration that Christ was made a curse for by saying, Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: For it is written, Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree.
According to Paul, Christ was made a curse for us in the manner in which he suffered physically on the cross. Paul tells the Galatians, Christ was made a curse by hanging on a tree. There is no mention by Paul of God’s wrath being poured out. In fact, Paul says this within the context of justification by faith in contrast to the works of the law. So Paul’s statement has to do is how we are justified in view of the Law and faith.
Under the Law it was the corpses of those who had already been executed then hanged on a tree, which were cursed. In Galatians 3:1 Paul says, “Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross.” The dead body of Jesus hanging on the cross absorbed the curse of the law and serves as payment for our sins against God.
Christ’s death frees us from the condemnation which comes through the law because Jesus absorbed the sentence of death for us so that we could be justified from our sins through faith in him. Paul appeals to the Galatians according to what actually happened out in the open at the cross, and not by some behind the scene exchange whereby God needed to be appeased as those with pagan false gods believe.
In contrast, the crucified body of Jesus Christ is the emblem of our redemption. Jesus sacrificed his body for our sins, and through his slain body which was hanged on a tree, we are free from the curse of the Law. He was made a curse by bearing the penalty for our sin (death) in his own body on the cross. The writer of Hebrews tells us, we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all. ~ Hebrews 10:5-10
Christ was made a curse in that his body was crucified, not by God’s righteous judgment condemning him. Jesus was just in the sight of God. According to the Bible, Jesus was denied justice and suffered unjustly at the hands of sinful men. God’s justice was displayed when God vindicated Jesus and raised him from the dead.
Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:. ~ Romans 1:3-4
For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. ~ 2 Corinthians 13:4
When God raised Jesus from the dead and exalted him at his own right hand, he overturned the verdict of sinful men. Now, all who believe in him have their sins remitted and become heirs of the blessing God promised Abraham through the Spirit.