How Could Jesus be Punished as a Sinner When He's Pure?

Lenny -

I would like your thoughts on the Cross, and the hope of Christ. If God raised someone who is pure, we realize that we can not compare ourselves to the perfection of Jesus. Whereas, Jesus being counted as sinful man and was raised gives us hope and good news. How was sin attributed to Jesus who was pure? Being counted as a Passover lamb can not be compared to us to give the same hope, are we to also be Passover lambs so that we too are similar? Jesus being accused of blasphemy, although a sin, Jesus was innocent because he was the son of God. Did God honor mans judgement of sin? I also note, that the bible states to be guilty of one sin is to be guilty of all sin, In this respect, I can see God accounting one sin to Jesus allowed him to bear all sins for our sake. I believe you understand my question although I can only try to describe it. I look forward to your response. Thank you!


Hi Stevan,

The question you ask touches a couple of theological points. If I understand your question correctly, it is "How can God put sin on someone who is sinless, or did God just accept the charge of blasphemy brought against Him by the Pharisees; and if Jesus was sinless, then how can man, being sinful, have assurance that we will be resurrected in like manner?"

Before we go any farther, we should establish that it is a necessity for Jesus to be sinless. This is true for several reasons. If Jesus was not completely free of sin, then His claim to being God would be false, and we are being deceived. In order for the claim of deity to stand, Jesus must never have sinned, not even once! Also, if He had committed a sin, then His death would not accomplish anything for us, as He would have to die for His own sins. Remember "the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23)."

I think your confusion is due to a misunderstanding of the substitutionary atonement of Christ's death. That's a fancy theological term for someone who takes another's place to pay for the wrongs they have committed. We have broken God's laws. We should be separated from God forever and condemned, because God is so righteous that He cannot let any sin go unpunished. You see, if God ignores sin, then that would be a flaw, and God cannot have any flaws! But, God loved man too much to condemn him with no hope, so He came up with a solution: Jesus would come to the world as a man, live the perfect life, and die to satisfy God's need to judge sin. Then, all those people who trust in the death of Jesus would be looked on by God as just as righteous as Jesus is.

This idea of substitution has a long history in the Old Testament. In Genesis 22 a ram is substituted for Isaac as a sacrifice. In Numbers 3 God instructs Israel to substitute the tribe of Levi for the first born of their sons. In Leviticus 16, though, the idea of substituting an offering in place of the one who sinned is spelled out. It is necessary for the offering to die for "without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins." Therefore, the idea of one who is not guilty taking the place of another has been well established. It allows God to judge sin while still allowing man an escape from that judgment.

In accepting Christ's atoning work on the cross, the next thing that happens is we are viewed with the righteousness of Christ. We do not become "Passover lambs", but God imputes the righteousness of Christ to us. In other words, He can now look upon us as though we had never sinned. This gives us the right to be resurrected and so much more. We are "therefore no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God"(Gal 4:7). We know that "when He shall appear we shall be like Him(1John3:2)" and Christ will "transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His Glory"(Phil. 3:21). This is why Paul marvels at how great a salvation we have been given, and this is why it needs to be proclaimed and defended to all.

The following letter also contains a great illustration on substitutionary atonement (first voiced by Hank Haanegraf of CRI).

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