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The Sinlessness of Christ

October 20, 2012

The man Jesus Christ has had a phenomenal impact on our world. His influence has impacted every generation since He walked this earth over 2,000 years ago.

Various opponents to Christianity have claimed that the worship of Christ won’t last. He’ll soon be forgotten and we’ll move on without Him. But here we are in 2012 and there are millions still worshiping Christ right across the globe.

Whatever your current opinion of Jesus, you have to give it to Him… in the words of Ron Burgundy ‘He’s a Big Deal!’

Times Magazine once said:

`Jesus is the most persistent symbol of purity, selflessness and love in the history of Western humanity.’

And it’s with this in mind that I want to highlight something very interesting about Him. I want to address the fact that Jesus Christ claimed to be without sin.

Did you know that?

I mean that’s a bit over the top isn’t it?

In John chapter 8 we read of a dispute between Jesus and the Jewish religious leaders. The religious leaders are fed up with the claims that Christ has been making and to make matters worse, Jesus asks the following question:

“Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?”

I’m sure lots of people have been daft enough to claim that they are without fault, but here we see Jesus really throw the gauntlet down. He doesn’t just claim to be sinless but hinges everything He says on that claim and also challenges anyone to disprove Him!

And what’s astonishing is that no one seems to be able to!

People will have wanted to prove or disprove Jesus

Now let’s just develop a little bit of context here. In John chapter 8 Jesus has already developed quite a reputation for Himself. Jesus had been spending His time making some rather astonishing claims:

  • I have come from Heaven (John 3 vs 9:13)
  • I have come to save the world (John 3 vs 16:18)
  • I can satisfy your spiritual thirst (John 4 vs 7:15)
  • Me and God the Father are equal (John 5 vs 1:18)
  • The scriptures are all about me (John 5 vs 30:47)
  • I AM the bread of life (John 6 vs 35)
  • If you believe in me you will have eternal life (John 6 vs 37:40)
  • I AM the light of the world (John 8 v 12)

These are just a few of His claims and they had already caused quite a stir in the region. He had soon become a man who was loved and hated by many (much like today) By John chapter 8 whilst he had gathered quite a following; He had also developed some strong opposition.

The Haters

As far as His haters were concerned they wanted Him silenced and off the scene. From the perspective of the religious leaders, Jesus was nothing more than a blasphemer who was taking attention off of them and putting it on Himself. He was taking the oracles of God and making them accessible to the commoner. He was hanging out with the sinful people – Jesus was ruining everything as far as the religious elite were concerned.

The Followers

When it came to those who were following Jesus, they were finding that this carpenter from Nazareth was communicating hope to their desperate situations. These ‘common’ people were wondering if these claims were true, because if they were then it would change everything for them!

Therefore this is a bold move on behalf of Jesus. It’s not as if people wouldn’t have been interested in this. The religious leaders would have been on the ball ready to find something to pin to Him. For the crowds that seemed to gather to Him they would have been asking themselves ‘Can this man really be trusted?’

Everything hinged on this claim to be sinless. Jesus questions why people are hesitant to believe Him by pointing out He is faultless.

Surely if there was ever a man in all of history that could be trusted it’s the man who has never sinned?! That’s got to be the man to listen to; If this is true, then surely Jesus has to be the man to follow right?

Now I know what you’re thinking… Yes Jesus would be the man to follow if I actually believed the Bible was anything more than a story book.

Thanks to the science of Textual Criticism and the support of numerous of secular historians we can have overwhelming confidence in the narrative of the New Testament. For more information please read my earlier posts: Can we be Confident in the New Testament? (part 1 and part 2).

What this means for us 2,000 years later is that whether or not we believe that Jesus was genuinely without sin, we can be certain that a man called Jesus made the claim to be.

“Maybe there was a man called Jesus who claimed to be without sin!” I hear you say, “maybe He even dared anyone to prove otherwise, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true!”

I agree. Here are some counterclaims to Christ’s claim to be sinless

1. Jesus claimed to be sinless and someone did oppose that claim

Whilst we don’t read of anyone responding to His challenge maybe someone did. Maybe the writer, John, simply didn’t include it. Let’s imagine John is part of the conspiracy and has an agenda and so doesn’t include this response because it doesn’t fit in with the conspiracy.

Well the only problem there is whether or not John included it; Jesus would have been instantly discredited. The crowds would have dispersed, Jesus’ ministry would have decreased, and the religious leaders wouldn’t have needed him silenced. But we don’t read of that happening – not according to the New Testament and not according to other secular sources. In fact we see the opposite!

The reputation increased and the religious leaders developed a plot to kill Jesus, and when he was brought before Pontius Pilate (Roman Governor at the time) to be tried, Pilate makes this famous claim: “I can find no wrongdoing in Him!”

2. Jesus claimed to be sinless but it was a hoax and Jesus had managed to trick everyone

Maybe Jesus had just managed to get away with things, you know a bit like how you and I can so often do. Maybe He had been so careful not to leave any trace of His wrongdoing that He was able to trick everyone.

The only problem here is that during His 3 years of ministry He pretty much lived every day with 12 other disciples.

I have been living with my wife Bex for the past 5 years now since we married in 2007. We have a good marriage and I am confident that not only do I love Bex, but she loves me. However if you were to tell her that I was sinless – she would laugh at you!

It would have been impossible for Jesus to have been so meticulous to have fooled each and every one of the disciples for 3 years – they would have been there when He stubbed His toe, or spilt hot water on His leg, or got frustrated with… well anything.

Two of Jesus’ closest friends were John and Peter, who just so happened to be the writers of a number of books in the New Testament. This is what they had to say about Jesus:

22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. – 1 Peter 2v22

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God – 1 Peter 3v18

John makes a similar claim in 1 John chapter 3 stating that in Him there is no sin.

If anyone would have known about Jesus secret sin it would have been those guys!

Out of the original 12 disciples, 11 of them were martyred for what they believed. It just doesn’t seem reasonable to believe that each of them would have gone faced death that way if they knew it was all made up.

3, Jesus claimed to be sinless but everyone knew he was lying, it just wasn’t a big deal to them

As we read in John chapter 8, Jesus effectively hinges all his claims on this claim. As such the validity of his claim to be sinless would have been incredibly important.

People would have had an interest in proving that Jesus was lying and that the whole thing was a conspiracy. There’s no way people would have continued to follow this man Jesus if they knew he was a sinner, let alone a sinner claiming to be sinless.

No one credible could make such a claim and get away with it. No one could be so ridiculous and yet have an impact the way that Jesus has.

As far as I can see, this only leaves us really with one option. Jesus claimed to be sinless…Because He was!

What I find amazing is that 2,000 years on and still no one is attempting to disprove this claim!

This is significant!

If this is true, if there is any chance that Jesus was actually without any sin, then this has huge reaching implications for me and you.

Surely no one can be without sin but God Himself?

More importantly how and why did God come down to be amongst us?

And what has that got to do with us today in 2012?

Answers to come!

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