Part 5: Did Jesus Sin, and
Does It Matter Anyway?
For a television program, Lost deals a surprising amount with the idea of sin. All the characters on the show have a past, and in many cases they’ve done things they’re not proud of, things they’re still feeling the negative impact of, actions they’re either trying to forget or else wishing to atone for.
As I’ve mentioned previously, many episodes have centered on a particular individual, taking viewers back into their past, revealing some of the regrets they’ve brought with them to the island. In many cases it has seemed like events on the island might give the characters an opportunity to somehow redeem or atone for their past actions (although, I must confess that after the Nov. 1 episode, I’ve begun to wonder how much redemption there really is on Lost.)
While it’s good that Lost presents themes like sin, redemption, and providence (see “Lost in Translation 2: The Concept of Providence on Lost” below), there’s a huge piece missing from the spiritual puzzle presented there. That missing piece is (a sinless) Jesus. Without Christ there can be no redemption. (For more on why Christ is crucial in finding redemption, see “Lost in Translation 3” below.) And in fact, without a sinless Christ, there is no redemption.
If you’re wondering whether Jesus sinned or not, the Bible speaks clearly on this issue. The New Testament book of Hebrews states that Jesus was “tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Christ faced all the same temptations we face. The difference is, He didn’t give in to those temptations as we are prone to do.
We cannot underestimate how important this fact is. Only a sinless man would have been capable of serving as an acceptable sacrifice to God offered on our behalf to cleanse us from sin. Take away Christ’s sinlessness and you take away his ability to save us.
That’s why Lost’s portrayal of Jesus as a sinner is such an egregious thing (see “Welcome to my Blog” below). For one thing, it’s a slap in the face to the holiness of Christ, to the holiness of God. Jesus was not a sinner. He was and is different from us in that way. And he deserves to receive the credit He’s due for having lived a perfect sinless life. (For more on the importance of holiness, see “Lost in Translation 3” below.)
I understand that the idea of a Christ who was a sinner just like the rest of us is appealing, because it would seem to make Him more accessible. If Jesus was a sinner then we may feel as though we can relate to him better. No longer does He seem like the angry God, out to punish us for our sins. If Jesus is a sinner, then maybe He’ll be compassionate instead of judging us.
The problem is, a Jesus who sinned cannot save us. What good is He to us then? In that case, Jesus was just another one of us. He might be able to relate to us, but He can’t help us. If Jesus was a sinner, then we’re all still in our sins, and therefore still under the wrath of God.
Yet thankfully, thought Jesus was a person like us, he wasn’t a sinner but lived the perfect, sinless life, and therefore was a suitable sacrifice capable of being substituted in our place. On the cross He received the punishment we deserved for our sins. Because of this, we’re no longer subject to the wrath of God if we place our trust in Him. And this was God’s plan and purpose all along in sending Christ, to provide a way for us to escape the wrath we deserve because of sin. As 2 Cor. 5:19 says, “…in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them.” (RSV) It was God’s plan all along to redeem us and save us from punishment for our sin.
However, if Jesus was and is sinless, and righteous, and holy, then it might seem as though he cannot relate to us who are sinners. How can He possibly understand us? Won’t He be harsh with us?
The Bible addresses this issue. We find these comforting words in the book of Hebrews:
Hebrew 2:17-18 ~ 17 For this reason [Jesus] had to be made like his brothers [that is, human beings] in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Heb 4:14-16 ~ 14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Jesus never sinned, but He was made just like us, which means He was subject to temptation, and the Word says He was indeed tempted, “in every way, just as we are,” and is therefore able to “sympathize with our weaknesses”. Jesus is able to relate to our weaknesses and temptations. Yet because He never succumbed to temptation, He is also capable of saving us!
This is the good news of the Christian message, that our sins can be redeemed, because of what Jesus Christ did in his death on the cross and in His resurrection. This is why the fact that Jesus was not a sinner is so important. And yet at the same time, because Jesus was a human being like us, He is able to relate to us in every way. That’s very comforting news, I think. Don’t you?
Thanks for reading today’s blog. My next topic will be: Good, Bad, or Ugly? The Eclectic Spirituality on Lost. Till then, be blessed!