It really wasn’t my fault, at least that’s what I told myself. After all, Joe was the one who had asked me to get him one of those free cones that McDonald’s gives to children who eat there. Escorting our three older grandkids and carrying the baby, I had gone to get them while he brought the car around. When I asked for four cones, the girl behind the counter looked us over, quickly doing the math, and said, “But there are three kids.”
That’s when I lied. Without blinking, or for that matter, even thinking, I said, “One is for the baby.” Eyebrows raised, the girl began making the cones as I looked away, mortified tosee that nine-year-old Marni was watching. I couldn’t wait to get out of there. Seething with frustration, I slammed the car door, letting Joe have it over the fact that these cones were for kids and he should never have asked for one. I won’t go into the details of that unsavory conversation, but suffice it to say he had the upper hand since I was the one who had lied.
I was miserable the rest of the evening, and in fact, tossed and turned all night, humiliated that I could so easily fabricate a story over something as insignificant as an ice cream cone. The next morning as I sat before the Lord, I asked for forgiveness, which I’d already done numerous times throughout night. It didn’t help. Even though I knew that my sins were all forgiven, I couldn’t get past the fact that I’d fallen so far, so fast.
I called Marni that afternoon to apologize, telling her that what I had done was wrong, trying to explain that lying is not only bad for us, but grieves the heart of God. In reality, I wanted more than anything to be able to give her some reasonable excuse for my behavior, but there was none.
Over the next few days I saw more clearly that what bothered me most was the fact that I hadn’t gotten it right, that once again I’d failed a self-imposed standard of perfection that has plagued me my whole life. If I’m perfectly honest, I don’t want to be the kind of person who can lie about an ice cream cone…but I am.
That experience took place a few years ago, but I thought of it this week as I meditated on Jesus’ final hours and read this passage: Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.” Earlier Paul had explained that the “curse of the law” applied to anyone who "does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them” (Galatians 3:10-13).
The reality is that for me, and for every human being, the curse of the law means we have to get it right—not some of the time, not most of the time, not even 99 percent of the time, but every single time. No mistakes. No sins. No white lies or anger or greed or immorality or coveting or judging—the list goes on.
The curse is that no matter how hard we try, no matter how often we succeed or how good we get, there isn’t a person in the world who can be certain they will never find themselves standing in the line at McDonald’s as I did that day, lying about an ice cream cone.
That Jesus redeemed us from the curse of the law is one of a plethora of beautiful truths we must ponder as we gaze upon the crucified Christ this holy week. In taking on our sins for those terrible agonizing hours at Golgotha, Jesus became a curse for you and for me so that we might walk in the freedom and joy that comes from knowing we never have to get it right again. What a wonder. What a Savior. Have a blessed Easter.