I WANT ME A SINNING JESUS (To be read with the voice of Shrek’s “Donkey” when he says – “And then we can make waffles!”
Just a bigger version of me!
It came up again in Bible study last night. I don’t know why this seems to be a topic of endless interest – but it is. Could Jesus have sinned?
Theologically, this is called the question of “impeccability”. And it is such fun to see how animated both sides of the table get on this one. Really, its a hoot.
So as not to keep you in suspense, I’ll tell you right off which side I’m on – I hold that Jesus COULD NOT have sinned. But probably not for the reasons usually stated in the discussion. But we’ll get to that in a moment.
What always crops up in this debate, is the sense that we need to make sure that we see Jesus virtually identical to us in every way, or a couple of things happen.
1-If He wasn’t tempted EXACTLY the way I am, then He cannot be a help to me when I am tempted. This of course would mean Jesus would have had to have been tempted in every single perversion known to man. And I’ve got news for you – YOU aren’t even tempted to every perversion of sin known to man. Jesus didn’t have to be tempted to be a pedophile in order to be able to deliver pedophiles out of their sin. If that line of reasoning were accurate, then Jesus missed temptations peculiar to ½ half of the entire human race – namely WOMEN! Are we going to say that because Jesus didn’t experience human femininity that He therefore is an incomplete Savior incapable of meeting women’s needs? Please! Give me a break.
Hebrews 4:15 says: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” As a human He suffered typical, human temptation – and beyond. Temptations uniquely suited to Him alone. You’ll never be tempted to avoid going to the Cross to bear the sins of fallen humanity by worshipping Satan. Trust me. You ain’t gonna go there. But no, He was never tempted to have an abortion or to leave His husband. Nor need He be in order to discharge His office. He needed to endure human testing and trial as genuinely human. Your Doctor doesn’t need to actually have suffered from cancer in order to be the most able person to cure you of it. The logic doesn’t work. I know some seem to take some sort of comfort in thinking He had to, but if you think it through, you see it really doesn’t fly.
2 – Another argument is – If Jesus couldn’t possibly fail, then He wasn’t “really” tempted. This one misses the point too. Little Billy Shedd gives the short answer to this one: “It is objected to the doctrine of Christ’s impeccability that it is inconsistent with his temptability. A person who cannot sin, it is said, cannot be tempted to sin. This is not correct; any more than it would be correct to say that because an army cannot be conquered, it cannot be attacked.” Just because a mugger has no possible way to actually defeat Jean-Claude van Dam doesn’t mean he might not attack him, and the attack is real! Because the gates of Hell cannot prevail against the Church doesn’t mean the Church isn’t really attacked. Because Satan cannot defeat God doesn’t mean he cant’ actually rebel and try to defeat God’s kingdom. Jesus didn’t have to be able to fall in order to really be tempted, He just needed to be attackable.
3 – The 3rd argument is – Jesus’ couldn’t have been fully human unless He possessed the ability to fall. Wrong again Grasshopper. If you are a Christian, you will never be more fully human than you will be in Heaven – when you cannot sin anymore. The ability to sin isn’t an inherently human quality – it is a quality of mutability, not humanity. You won’t have lost anything good in Heaven, you’ll have gained. Your ability here to choose to sin is not a plus. You get to get rid of that nasty ability once and for all in the age to come! Don’t prize it quite so highly.
When it is all said and done, Jesus had the physical equipment to sin, He didn’t have the moral equipment. But that aside, say you don’t like any of my arguments up above. You just have it in your mind that Jesus HAD to be able to sin, or for you, something is really missing. Then let me approach the whole question from a completely different vantage point. Let’s take the areas we’ve been discussing off the table for a minute and look at it from another angle.
Let me ask you this question: God promised in Gen. 3:15, that the “seed of the woman” would bruise the serpent’s head – right? Its what we cal the protoevangelion – or the first Gospel. God makes the promise right then and there. Then let me ask – if God made that promise, was there any chance it might not come to pass? Was the whole of redemptive history, the whole of God’s salvation plan, at any point, in jeopardy of not coming to pass? Was it ever “iffy” in God’s eyes? No. Then there was no possibility Jesus could have sinned, and ruined the plan. Or, to use Paul’s words in Titus 1:2 “in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began 3 and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior.” i.e. If God promised eternal life through Christ “before the ages began” – then it HAD to come to pass, and Jesus could not have messed it up. Period. End of story. Case closed.
Take all the other arguments off the table, all the quibbling about Christ’s nature, and think for one moment what you are saying if you think it was possible for Christ to sin – you are saying it was possible for God’s eternal plan and promise to fail.
Some folks no doubt want a Jesus who “might” have fallen, because it makes them feel better about the temptations they give into. And believe me – I have NO desire to minimize ANYONE’S struggles with temptations – they are fierce. But better to be uncomfortable with how easily I sin, and to put my every confidence in a Savior who cannot fail, than to draw comfort for myself by thinking Christ could have failed in His eternal mission to provide redemption. That’s a pretty big price tag to feel better about myself.