BY KYLE G JONES
Though written in three languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek) by around 40 different people, over the course of 2,000 years, all of Scripture speaks with the same accent.
We can hear this accent in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (3:13). Martin Luther, in his commentary on Galatians, draws our attention to it. “Paul does not say that Christ was made a curse for Himself. The accent is on the two words ‘for us’” (emphasis added).
The accent of Scripture emphasized that Christ is for you. Yes, you. He’s not for the perfect people of our imaginations. He’s not just for Abraham, Moses, David, Peter, or Paul. Christ is also for you, for me, for all.
How do we know that Jesus is for us? Once again, Paul’s letter to the Galatians delivers the answer. “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age according to the will of our God and Father” (1:3–4).
Once more, Luther draws attention to what Paul doesn’t say. “He does not say, ‘Who received our works,’ but ‘who gave.’ Gave what? Not gold, or silver… but Himself. What for? Not for a crown, or a kingdom, or our goodness, but for our sins” (emphasis added).
We know Christ is for us because He gave Himself. He took on the flesh and blood of a humanity who rejected Him. He entered into our time and space, into human history, and gave Himself to death on the cross. Not for our best, but for our worst. Christ gave Himself, not only for “little” mistakes, but for the mountainous, life-altering, relationship-ending sin ingrained in us.
Jesus became every sin we’ve ever committed. “Whatever sin I, you, all of us have committed or shall commit, they are Christ’s sins as if He had committed them Himself” (Luther). He bore the curse of all our sins for us. “Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” (1 Peter 3:18).
The accent Scripture speaks stresses that “Christ changes places with us. He gets our sins, we get His holiness” (Luther). It stresses that Christ is for us.
Kyle is many things: husband, professional church worker, theological thinker and writer, musician, introvert, reader, tea and coffee, craft beer consumer, chronic over-thinker, helplessly hipster, Floridian living in Texas, roller derby fan, and the founding editor of The Gospel Economist, a group of writers and contributors that seek the story of Jesus Christ and his payment for our sin in our everyday lives.
He is also a sinner and justified, simultaneously. He is a sinner by his own thoughts, words, and actions and, at the same time, justified by grace through faith in the work of Jesus Christ.