The Sinless Jesus
Sin is an act of lawlessness (I Jn. 3: 4). To quote one translation: "Every one that doeth sin doeth also lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness" (I Jn. 3: 4, ASV). Sin presupposes law (Rom. 5: 13). We are under the "perfect law of liberty" today (Jas. 1: 25). Sin is universally common. The wise man wrote thus regarding the universality of sin: "For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not" (Eccl. 7: 20, cp. Rom. 3: 12, 23). Sin is so characteristic of man that John penned, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (I Jn. 1: 8). He subsequently argues that to deny sin is to "make him a liar, and his word is not in us" (vs. 10). Beloved, Jesus is presented in the scriptures as our example (I Pet. 2: 21, Heb. 12: 2-4). Jesus claimed not to have any connection with Satan and sin (Jn. 14: 30; 4: 34, 8: 29, 46). Jesus dared, if you will, any of his contemporaries to find fault with him (Jn. 8: 46). Only a sinless one could thus successfully challenge his enemies. Let us now consider some witnesses to Jesus' sinlessness.
The Roman ruler Pilate. Pilate subjected Jesus to extensive interrogation and examination (Jn. 18). After examining Jesus as to any guilt on his part, Pilate declared to the Jews, "I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him" (Jn. 19: 4). Pilate had earlier officially announced, "I find in him no fault at all" (Jn. 18: 38). Notwithstanding, such an announcement of guiltlessness did not discourage the Jews (Jn. 19).
Pilate's wife. Not only did Pilate declare the innocence of Jesus, but Pilate's wife was also opposed to the crucifixion. She thus advised Pilate: "When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him" (Matt. 27: 19). The pleas of Pilate's wife, however, were to no avail. We read, "But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus" (Matt. 27: 20). It mattered not to the mad mob that Jesus was guiltless.
Judas Iscariot's testimony. As you know, Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss (Matt. 26: 47 ff.). The name "Judas" has become synonymous with betrayal and disloyalty. One might think that since Judas betrayed Christ, Judas must have believed Jesus to not have been sinless. Not so. Observe the witness of Judas: "Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood " (Matt. 27: 4). Judas was so engulfed in sorrow that he had betrayed such innocent blood that he committed suicide (Matt. 27: 5).
One of the two malefactors. Testimony of Jesus' sinlessness is resident in the words of one of the robbers who was crucified with Jesus as he rebukes the other robber who railed against Jesus. "Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss ," spoke the robber (Lk. 23: 39-42). When men are facing death the truth often surfaces, as was the case with this robber. He admitted their guilt, but contended for the innocence of Jesus.
The Roman centurion. There were a number of phenomenon associated with Jesus' crucifixion. There were three hours of darkness, the veil of the temple was rent in twain and there was an earthquake (Matt. 27: 45-53). Perhaps the most arresting phenomenon of all was the resurrection of a number of saints who appeared to many in Jerusalem (vs. 52, 53). Notice Matthew's recording: "Now when the centurion and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God" (Matt. 27: 54). Luke adds, "Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man" (Lk. 23: 47).
The apostle Paul. The personality of Paul (and the man previously known as Saul) was to fearlessly say and do what he believed to be right (Acts 23: 1, 2 Tim. 1: 12). Paul frequently wrote about Jesus and his death. Consider his words regarding Jesus' sinlessness: "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (2 Cor. 5: 21).
The apostle John. John's testimony is also without ambiguity regarding Jesus' sinless state. Consider John's language:
"1: Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 2: Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3: And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. 4: Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. 5: And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin" (I Jn. 3).
The author of Hebrews. There is both external and internal evidence to suggest that Paul wrote Hebrews. Since the author is unnamed, however, we do not know for absolutely sure the authorship of Hebrews. Hence, I include the testimony of the writer of Hebrews:
"14: Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15: For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16: Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb. 4: 14-16).
The apostle Peter. To add to the testimony of Pilate, Pilate's wife, Judas, the malefactor, the Roman centurion, the apostle Paul, John, and the writer of Hebrews, I now include the inspired Peter's statement regarding Jesus and sin:
"21: For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed" ( I Pet.2: 21-24).
Beloved, those who serve, follow, and worship men (cults), have a flawed leader. However, Jesus Christ is sinless. Couple to Jesus' sinlessness the matter of his deity and you have one worthy of man's adoration. Jesus, then, is our perfect exemplar in all matters and one whom we are to mimic (Heb. 12:1-3). It is a privilege to submit to such a one who has "all authority in heaven and in earth," the "King of kings and Lord of lords" (Matt. 28: 18; I Tim. 6: 15).