Jesus the Sinner?
Pastor Don Prewitt
Before you call me a heretic and pick up your stones to stone me, please hear me out and bid me the permission to explain my title. I haven’t been truant in my study and I am not flippantly asking this question to shock you, though I wouldn’t mind getting your attention. I think that it is good for us to discuss this very important subject about Jesus as we approach Crosswalk and Easter Sunday. Lets get started by reading this scripture together:
“…For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” -2 Corinthians5:21
The problem with explaining my title to this sermon, or the verse that we just read is that I cannot give you a proper answer without exploring some other subjects first. So please sit back, try and relax and please, please just hold those rocks you’ve been given and don’t stone me until after the altar call!
WHAT IS SIN?
Lets first talk about sin. What is sin? Though many would consider sin breaking the 10 commandments, the scripture actually defines sin as “missing the mark”, the mark being the standard of perfection established by God and evident in Jesus. Viewed in that light, it is clear that all of us have sinned.
Romans 3:23 says:
“For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Here stands the truth, because of Adam and Eves choices, and our own choices we ALL have missed the mark; we all have fallen short of the perfection of God!
- God is perfect and holy
- By our own doing we are imperfect and sinful
- God HATES sin…
BUT, God’s love for us is not contingent on anything we do. Let me repeat that, God’s love is not contingent on ANYTHING we do. God is love…period. God even loves sinners.
But I think that our view of God messes with our definition of sin and what Christ actually did for us when He died on the cross. So again, before I can explain my title, I must convince you that ALL of us are sinners and then we must tackle the fact that God HATES sin. Let me give you two thoughts of belief regarding God, both of them wrong.
GOD IS WRATHFUL TOWARD US
There are those that think that God is mad all the time and waiting patiently for us to miss the mark and then, ‘POW”, He’s going to get us! Its like George Orwell’s novel 1984, the two characters Winston and Julia abhor the constant control and viewing of every moment of their lives, knowing that one wrong move and Big Brothers governmental hand would come crashing down on them. Instead of feeling safe, they felt angry, controlled and rebellious. Those who believe such a lie about God walk around thinking that He is always mad at the world because of our sin and He is patiently waiting for the right moment to crush us with His anger! This view of God is seen loud and clear in at the Westboro Baptist Church. They get lots of attention in the news for their “God hates fags” and “God hates America” pickets. But the scriptures say
“For God so loved the world…” -John 3:16
God didn’t say that He loved the Jews alone, or the cleaned up crowd or a certain country of people; God said that He loved the WORLD; every one of us the same. And thought there ARE consequences for our wrong choices God isn’t waiting for the right moment to slam you!
There’s another group that believe the extreme opposite.
GOD DOESN’T CARE ABOUT OUR SIN
This view of God is very popular, especially now in our post-modern world. These people believe that God is a benevolent spirit who never judges and never punishes sin and never sends anyone to hell. Though this feels like an inspirational, fuzzy and inviting god, it is not the God of the scriptures nor is a true picture of a loving God. Scriptures like Romans 1:18, records Jesus Himself saying:
“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness…”
and in John 3:36 Jesus says: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath.”
Words like wrath or condemnation dirty the face of this kind of mushy, emotional god and yet Jesus himself spoke of Gods wrath.
Merging God’s love and His wrath together is difficult. Most people simply decide to go one way or the other. Let me ask you, how do you see God? Do you see Him as an angry Big Brother type just waiting to unleash His anger on you or a kind Santa type that would never choose anger or wrath or hell or sin in His flowery vocabulary? The Biblical truth is that God is both kind and severe and we cannot have one without the other…which is really good news. Let me explain.
First, regarding the love of God, we often liken His love for us to a sappy love song, like this popular Bruno Mars song, “Grenade”:
“I’d catch a grenade for ya, throw my head on a blade for ya,I’d jump in front of a train for ya, you know I’d do anything for ya, Oh, I would go through all this pain, take a bullet straight through my brain, yes, I would die for ya baby, but you wont do the same…”
First, what was Bruno thinking? Man, he had it really, really bad for this girl! The truth is that after that first train came his way, I bet he might have traded that girl in for a warm bed and a cheeseburger if it came right down to it!
In the same way we hear that “God is love” and we can assume that God is crazy in love with us, like a crazy love song. But the scriptural definition of Gods love is as Dallas Willard say’s “to will the good of another”. In other words, God’s love is not an emotion that changes and sways like human love, but instead it is simply who He is. His love for us is very similar to a parents love toward a rebellious child, they love that child no matter what he may do or not do, because their love is not just based of the feelings of love. They may get hurt and feel disappointment, but their love for that child, who is flesh of their flesh, never changes.
The same misconceptions are true about the word wrath. When we hear the word we think of someone in a fit of rage or out of control. Wrath in our world describes someone who has crossed the line of anger into the state of rage. So when we think of the wrath of God we immediately think of a god full of rage and ready to lose control on our sin. But God is not in a crazed fit of rage but instead is in consistent loving opposition of sin. Paul never describes God as being angry. Anger is a human emotion; wrath is different. The wrath of God against sin is actually an act of His perfect love. He hates sin because of what it does to us and to our relationships with others and with our relationship with Him.
Humans hate injustice and yet when we try to erase His wrath from his characteristics, we tell Him to not be just. We say to Him, “because you are a loving God you must ignore the injustice that the devil would do in and through me.”
The wrath of God is the justice and fairness of a loving, perfect God on the sins of mankind. Which, may I remind you, are of our own doing? We must see the wrath of God as a loving, parental attribute of God.
So let’s get back to the title of my sermon and the verse that we started out with. I’ve wandered a very complex trail to get to what the title was trying to get across. Let’s review quickly before I give you the answer:
- We first defined sin as “missing the mark” and heard from the scriptures that ALL of us have missed the mark
The God that doesn’t care about our sins
We then explored the correct view of God that He is good AND wrathfully angry toward sin…both attributes are birthed out of His great love for us.
- Then we explored the two wrong views of God
- The wrathful God toward us
So let’s read this beginning scripture once more:
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. -2 Corinthians 5:21
How important is this verse to us? If you miss this, you have missed the entire gospel. Charles Spurgeon called it “the heart of the gospel”. If we can get this verse, we may be wrong in other areas and still go to heaven. But without this verse we have nothing at all and might as well pack up and become a community service group! What does this scripture tell us?
1. JESUS HAD NO SIN
The scriptures declare this truth many times, a few examples are:
Pilate examined Jesus and said “I find no fault in him.” -John 19:4
The writer of Hebrews states: “We do not have a high priest (Jesus) who cannot sympathize with our weakness’, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” -Hebrews 4:15
Well, so far this doesn’t explain the question in my title. Let me go back to the wrath of God for a moment.
- There IS sin in the world
- The scriptures say that ALL of us have sinned and could never measure up to the glory of God.
- Sin HAS to come under the wrath of God or He wouldn’t be a very loving God.
- His perfect love cannot look upon our sins, because He is perfectly pure
- We deserve the punishment and wrath of God.
- If we sin the perfect loving wrath of God will be ours fair and square.
This brings us to the greatest act of love known to the entire world.
2. JESUS BECAME SIN FOR US
Here we stand in the doorway of the title of my message. Did Jesus become a sinner on the cross, even though the scriptures clearly say He was sinless? No, He did not become a sinner, but He did become sin! Some would say that Jesus became a sin offering for us on the cross. But this is not at all what Paul is stating in this controversial statement. The scripture clearly says that Jesus, on the cross, BECAME sin. This is what the church calls the doctrine of substitutionary atonement. I want you to take a moment to think through the worst of the worst sins both in your own life and the world. Is it adultery? Jesus became the sin of adultery on the cross. Is it stealing? Jesus became the sin found in a thieve’s heart on the cross. Is it injustice, trafficking of innocent children, ungodly governmental dictatorship or lust for money, things, sex, acceptance, position? Jesus on the cross became the esense of every one of these sins.
Hebrews 9:22 says:
“…And according to the law, almost all things are purged (cleansed) with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no remission (forgiveness).”
Do you want to know how to tell someone to become a follower of Jesus? They must believe and accept this next point.
3. JESUS TOOK OUR RIGHTFUL PENALTY WHEN HE BECAME SIN ON THE CROSS”
In Leviticus we find that the priests would sprinkle the blood of a goat on the Mercy Seat in the Holiest place of the temple on the day of Atonement. This sprinkled blood signified the covering of the sins of the people for one more year. Did you know that two goats were involved on the Day of Atonement? One was killed and one was not. After the priest offered the blood of the first goat, he would then place his hands on the head of the second goat, confessing the sins of the people. Leviticus 16:21 specifically says he is to “put them” (the sins of the people) on the goat.
Then the goat was taken into the wilderness and released. This pictured the removal of sin through placing them on an innocent victim. That goat was called a scapegoat because he symbolically took the sins of the people on himself. What the goat did symbolically, Jesus did literally, when on the cross, He removed our sins from us.
“…as far as the east is from the west.” -Psalm 103:12
Isaiah 53:6 says “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him (Jesus) the iniquity of us all.”
What is the bottom line for us today regarding Jesus becoming our sin? Let me review one more time as you loosen your hand on that rock and know that I truly am not a heretic!!
- Jesus had NO sin
- Jesus became sin for us
- Jesus took our rightful penalty of the cross
Why did God allow His holy, innocent, pure son to die in my place; allowing my rightful nails to be Jesus’ nails, allowing my rightful punishment to become Jesus’ punishment? The only right answer is the ending to this most amazing and unbelievable verse.
“…For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” -2 Corinthians5:21
He said “yes” to pouring out all of His wrath onto Jesus’ shoulders, literally turning away from His only son, so that you could become the righteousness of God; so that you wouldn’t have to bear the load of shame and guilt and penance for your sins. So that you could say…
I AM LOVED BY GOD.
Jesus said of Himself in John 14:6:
“I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
To many people this sounds narrow-minded and outright arrogant that we proclaim that there is only one way to God. But let me remind you of something in closing. Only Jesus Christ BECAME sin so that you could know God!
- Buddha and his teachings couldn’t claim this
- Confucius, though wise, couldn’t claim this
- Muhammad couldn’t claim such things
- Baha’u’llah of the Baha’i faith couldn’t claim this
- The Mormon churches Joseph Smith and his secret rituals couldn’t claim this
- Gerald Garner of the Wiccan religion couldn’t boast of this
- Darwin and Marx, with their atheistic philosophies couldn’t claim this
- Oprra and her new age theology can’t claim of this
- Post Modernism’s Richard Rorty can’t claim this
10. Not one of the 330 Million gods of the Hindu faith can’t claim this
11. Scientology’s L. Ron Hubbard and his E-meter couldn’t claim this
Only one person in all of history could ever make such a claim. He is the one who took on His innocent back every one of your sins, becoming them on the cross so that you could not only be forgiven, but so that you could share in His own righteousness. AND HIS NAME IS JESUS! Pick up that stone you were given today. Remember that your own choices made you deserving of sin, deserving of being stoned, just like in the Old Testament. Keep this rock as you contemplate this Easter season the fact, the truth and the reality that Jesus Christ took that stoning in your place…and when He did, He gave this broken world the greatest picture of love we will ever know or experience.
Some of you have come into this place with such heavy burdens on your shoulders. The consequences of your own choices have finally caught up with you. Today, you may feel that God’s other shoe has finally dropped…
Others of you have realized that your view of God is shallow, you know He loves you, but you have justified your sins by saying that He is a loving and forgiving God…ignoring the fact that your sins will catch up to you eventually…
Others may not even know this God that would give His only son to become sin on your behalf…
Wherever you are today, you must see that you are a great part of this story of love given through Jesus to man.
What is your role in this story today? Simply turn to Him…He is waiting to forgive, restore, and release you from every sin that you carry or are haunted by.