2nd Sunday in Lent March 8, 2020
1 Peter 2:18-25
145, 146, 343, 179
Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) unless otherwise noted
Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me?
In Christ Jesus, the Lamb of God,
All of us find it easier to see and call attention to the sins of others than to see and confess our own sins. We easily become indignant about the sins of others, especially when those sins hurt us or those who are close to us. We may want the sins of others to be brought to light, thinking that they should make amends for what they have done. But then the realization hits us that we, too, have been guilty of many sins. And then we ask ourselves, “Do I want my sins brought to light?” “Would I want to be called to account for every unkind word that I have spoken, and for every evil thought that I have had?”
In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus addressed this tendency to see the sins of others while overlooking our own. There He says, “Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3)
But Jesus Himself could justly call attention to and rebuke the sins of others without first acknowledging sins of His own. He had no faults. He was guilty of no sins. He could ask the question—as He does here in our text—“Which of you convicts Me of sin?” without any fear that someone could bring up something sinful that He had said or done.
The Man Jesus was without sin, without fault. To say this about Him is every bit as great a thing as to say that He is God incarnate. It is to say that Jesus is absolutely unique among men; no one else like Him has ever lived.
The sinlessness of Jesus Christ is also essential to His work as our Savior. If He had sinned He couldn’t have been our Savior, our Redeemer. Therefore, it is important in our study of His passion and death that we consider this about Him. Let us then look at the record of the Scriptures as they testify to the sinlessness of Jesus and then consider what that means for us and for everyone.
When Jesus asked this question, “Which of you convicts Me of sin?” He was talking to a group that was very hostile toward Him. Their hostility against Jesus had been growing for some time; now it had advanced to the point that His enemies were plotting to kill Him. In this conversation Jesus brings their plotting—which they thought had been kept a secret—out into the open by accusing them publicly. And He shows the depth of their wickedness and the utter perversity of their plans by challenging them to come up with one thing that He had said or done that could be condemned as sin. He doesn’t say, “Which of you accuses Me of sin?” for they did accuse Him of many things, both during His ministry among them and at His trials. Accuse Him they would; convict Him they could not. Testimony against Him at His trial before the high priest was provided by false witnesses, who were shown to be false when their testimonies did not agree (Matthew 14:56). No witnesses could be called who could truthfully testify to any wrongdoing on Jesus’ part.
But many witnesses could be called to testify to His sinlessness. We can begin with His friends and disciples. Peter calls Him “the Holy One and the Just” (Acts 3:14) “who did no sin” (1 Peter 2:22). John the apostle calls Him “Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1), and says of Him, “In Him there is no sin” (1 John 3:5). Paul calls Jesus the one “who knew no sin.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) The writer of Hebrews says of Jesus that He “was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
Even Judas, who betrayed Him, when he regretted what he had done, said that He had betrayed “innocent blood.” (Matthew 27:4) Pilate says of Jesus three times that he found “no fault in Him” (John 18:38; 19:4, 6)
Jesus also asserted His sinlessness, both in our text and other places. Near the end of His life He could say, “I have kept My Father’s commandments.” (John 15:10) And with that judgment the Father also agreed when, both at His baptism and again at the Transfiguration, He spoke from heaven saying of Jesus, “This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:7; 17:5)
There is also the record of the four Gospels that testify to Jesus’ spotless life. He never broke any of the Ten Commandments. He resisted all the temptations of Satan. He refused to misuse His divine power to make stones into bread, even though He had fasted for forty days. He refused to take the easy path to glory by using His divine power to impress the crowds. And that’s just looking at the matter negatively. Jesus was constantly doing good to others. He used His power to heal people, to lift them up from pain and misery. He fed multitudes that were in need of food. He freed poor souls from domination by evil spirits. He was unfailingly patient and kind. He took time with people, taught them, listened to them and answered their questions. When He was angry, it was always righteous anger out of zeal for God (for example, John 2:12-17).
As Jesus asserts His sinlessness to His enemies in our text, He does so as an appeal to them that they should believe Him. He challenges them to convict Him of sin; and if they couldn’t do that, they should admit that He was telling them the truth. Jesus’ holy, sinless life showed that He was completely in harmony and fellowship with God. His teaching was from God, as He had always said. His teaching was that of the Only Begotten Son of God, as He also says in this same speech, “I speak what I have seen with My Father.” (John 8:38) If they could find no sin of which to accuse Him, then they should believe Him. Then it was wrong of them—yes, wicked of them—to continue to oppose and contradict Him as though He were telling them lies.
Jesus’ sinless life tells us that we are right to believe His teaching. It shows Him to be who He says He is: the Son of God, the Savior sent by God. We are right to believe what He says about God, about sin, about salvation. We are right to believe His word as we find it in the four Gospels. We are right to believe His Word as we find it in all the writings of His appointed apostles.
We are right not only to believe Jesus, but also to believe in Him as our only Savior. His sinless life as both God and Man is what qualifies Him to be the Lamb of God that takes away the world’s sin. He is the sacrificial Lamb prefigured by the Passover lamb which had to be one that was without blemish and without spot. Jesus is such a Lamb as that. When He offered up His life on the cross and shed His blood, it was the offering of the perfect life. And because it was the offering of a perfect life, it was an offering acceptable to God.
Jesus’ perfect, sinless life is the source of comfort and assurance to us who are sinners. When our conscience is troubled and we fear that our sins have cut us off from God, let us remember that Jesus offered to God for us a sinless life. The devil also tries to disturb our peace by bringing up our past sins and whispering in our ear, “What makes you think that you are a child of God and have salvation?” At such times let us answer, “I agree that I am a sinner who isn’t worthy to be a child of God or to have salvation. But Jesus my Savior is holy and sinless. His sacrifice atoned for all my sins. By faith I have His perfect righteousness imputed to me.” Amen.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.