Sproul on the Curse and the Cross

In his excellent little book, The Truth of the Cross, R.C. Sproul discusses the Ancient Near Eastern  (Sumerians, Akkadians, etc.) treaties/covenants and how parts of them were pretty much universal back then.  He then shows now the blessings and curses of the Mosaic covenant point to Christ.  In the light of the curse specifically, Sproul comments:

“I’ve heard sermons about the nails and the thorns.  Granted, the physical agony of crucifixion is a ghastly thing.  But thousands of people have died on crosses, and others have had even more painful, excruciating deaths than that.  But only One received the full measure of the curse of God while on a cross.  Because of that, I wonder if Jesus was even aware of the nails and the thorns.  He was overwhelmed by the outer darkness.  On the cross, He was in hell, totally bereft of the grace and the presence of God, utterly separated from all blessedness of the Father.  He became a curse for us so that we one day will be able to see the face of God.  God turned His back on His Son so that the light of His countenance will fall on us.  It’s no wonder Jesus screamed from the depths of His soul.”

R. C. Sproul, The Truth of the Cross (Orlando: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2007), 134-5.  Website: www.reformationtrust.com

shane lems

sunnyside wa

5 Replies to “Sproul on the Curse and the Cross”

  1. Nice . . . looks like a book I need to get . . .

    I remember that a weakness of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion,” aside from it being a violation of the 2nd Commandment (!!!), was the fact that all it did was portray Jesus’ *physical* suffering. The abandonment by the father was not present at all and, honestly, how could it be? Who can fathom that? Who *really* could expect to be able to portray that – on film no less!

    Anyway . . . looks like good stuff!


  2. Good point, Andrew. Something did not sit right with me about Mel Gibson’s portayal of the passion. It seems that much emphasis was put on the “physical” suffering, perhaps to emphasize Jesus’ humanity.
    The spiritual aspects of the suffering were really only demonstrated through the words spoken from the cross: My God, My God, why hast thou foresaken me?
    The Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 53:1 seems to touch on the spiritual aspects of Jesus’ suffering, but it seems to describe the physical torment, mostly.



  3. While I have an appreciation for Sproul’s writing and wider ministry, the statement that ‘God turned His back on His Son so that the light of His countenance will fall on us’ is not the good news that the Scriptures bear witness to. And while I appreciate the substitutionary overtones, how does God ‘turn his back’ on him in whom he is always well-pleased? This is not, as the book’s title suggests, ‘the truth of the cross’. The truth of the cross is the God was in (and with) Christ, reconciling the world to himself.


    1. Yes God did have to turn his eyes from His Son. this has to be Truth if looked at from God our Father’s perspective. God is unable to look on sin and that is the curse that was place on His Son. With all the sin of the world on Jesus, His Father could not look at Him. God the Father and the Son loved us that much.


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