Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Sinless Savior

                 Image result for Jesus sinless

Just prior to Easter 2015 the Barna Research group polled thousands of people from all across the nation, some professing Christians others not. In this particular survey, participants were asked five questions about the identity of Jesus, one of which was, “Agree or disagree, when Jesus lived on the earth was He perfect and did not commit sins like other people?” The results were almost split down the middle—52% said Jesus was sinner, 46% said Jesus was sinless, while the remaining 2% were unsure.

Lead researcher, David Kinnaman, interpreted the data of this study by concluding, “There isn’t much argument about whether Jesus Christ actually was a historical person, but nearly everything else about his life generates enormous, and sometimes rancorous, debate. As much of our previous research shows, Americans’ dedication to biblical portrait of Jesus is, in most cases, a mile wide and an inch deep.”[1]  

One must wonder how Jesus got such a less-than-stellar track record in the minds of so many people, especially since everything that we about Him in the Bible shows Him to be perfect.

·         The testimony of Christ’s friends

American’s have become accustomed to presidential scandal. Whether it’s Richard Nixon and Watergate or the sexual affairs of JFK and Bill Clinton, even the men who hold the highest office in the land are not what they seem. Several presidents have tainted their legacies with sin. In an era of media saturation, it’s difficult for presidents to hide unsavory facts from the constant presence of reporters. Eventually, some defect in their character leaks.  

Now apply this principle to Jesus. For three years he was followed by twelve disciples that observed everything about Him. They were given complete access to his life. They ate with him, traveled with Him and watched how He interacted with the crowds. Yet, even with that level of intimacy not one of His closest followers could ever report any blight upon His character.  

·         When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming to be baptized he declared, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The implication is that Jesus was sinless or else He could not remove the sins of humanity if He was a sinner Himself.

·         Peter would record in his first letter, “18 . . . you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1:18-19). Later on in that same epistle he said, “22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth” (2:22).

·         John would also attest to the perfect character of Jesus by writing, “5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin” (1 John 3:5).

·         After the Apostle Paul met the risen Christ he said in 2 Cor. 5:21 of Christ’s atonement, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 

Josh McDowell writes, “Throughout the Bible, the inconsistencies of all persons are revealed. None of the great Jewish heroes is presented without blemish, not even David, Israel’s greatest king or Moses, the Hebrew’s greatest deliverer. Even in the New Testament the shortcomings of the apostles are written about in almost every book, and yet in their close contact with Jesus for three years, they never saw in him the sins they saw in themselves. They got on one another’s nerves, they grumbled and argued, doubted and denied, but they never did see these things in Jesus. Try spending three days with someone, much less three years, and having nothing negative to report about their character. The fact that all of Jesus inner circle, those who knew Him best, came away with the same conclusion of sinless is astonishing.”[2]  

·         The testimony of Christ foes

What’s even more amazing is that the people who wanted to see Christ’s demise and were out to find skeletons in His closet could not dig up anything on Him.

·         After interviewing Jesus, Pilate the Roman procurator said, “4 See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him” (John 19:4).

·         The Roman soldier who was there at the foot of Jesus’ cross declared, “Truly, this was a righteous man” (Luke 23:47),

·         Judas who betrayed the Lord, recanted his actions and said, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood” (Matt. 27:4).

·         As Jesus stood before the Pharisees He challenged them, “46 Which one of you convicts me of sin?” (John 8:46). But none of His detractors could bring a charge against Jesus.

In 2009 Mark Buerhle, a pitcher for the Chicago White Sox, accomplished something that only 18 other pitchers had accomplished in the history of Major League Baseball since 1871—he pitched a perfect game. For those of you who aren’t baseball fans allow me to explain, a perfect game occurs when all 27 hitters are prevented from getting a hit, also the pitcher cannot allow a single walk, and his team cannot commit any errors.

                           Image result for mark buehrle perfect game

The baseball world was buzz, especially when it looked like Buerhle might repeat the amazing feat again. His very next start he pitched another perfect game for the first five and two thirds innings. He set the record for consecutive batters retired over a several-game stretch—45 batters up and down—but then, as it inevitably does, human limitation took hold. In the sixth inning, with two outs, Buerhle walked a batter. Hits followed. He got out of that inning, but in the seventh he gave up more hits and was pulled from the game. He had given up five runs on five hits, and the White Sox lost the game 5 to 3.[3]

Among human beings, if perfection is possible, it is only temporary. Eventually, we will strike out in some way. We will have an impure thought. We will say a cross word to our spouse. We will be tempted and succumb to it. As C.S. Lewis commented, “No man knows how bad he really is until he’s tried to be good.”[4] Our sins should cause us to bow in humility to Christ and it should highlight the spotless life He lived pleasing His Father in every thought, word and deed. Jesus’ sinless sacrifice on the cross should cause us to worship Him realizing that He did what we could never do. -DM  

[1] What Do Americans Believe About Jesus? 5 Popular Beliefs,” Barna Group, 1 April 2015 < barna-update/culture/714-what-do-americans-believe-about-jesus-5-popular-beliefs#.VSKeSvnF9Ho>
[2] Josh McDowell, Evidence for Christianity (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2006), 412.
[3] Craig Brian Larson, “Mark Buerlhe is Perfect Temporarily,” Preaching Today < illustrations/2009/august/3081009.html>
[4] C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (San Francisco: Harper One, 1952), 142. 

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