Could Jesus Have Sinned
By: Rev. Sam Harris
|By: Rev. Sam Harris; ©2000|
|Jesus was fully human yet fully divine at the same time. As a man, could He have committed a sin? If He could NOT, how could He have been “tempted in all things as we are”? Rev. Harris answers these questions.|
Could Jesus Have Sinned?
This question has come up in our Sunday School Class: Could Jesus have sinned? Our pastor says no because Jesus was fully God in human flesh and God cannot do something against His own nature. This makes sense, but He was also fully man, and if He could not have sinned how could He have been really tempted as we are?
Certainly Scripture establishes that Jesus was fully God and fully man. John 1:14 states: “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Paul writes to Timothy (1 Tim. 2: 5) “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” No doubt, your pastor has shared with you many other passages that affirm both His humanity and deity.
Let’s focus on the last sentence: “If He could not have sinned how could He have been really tempted as we are?” To understand this, we need to consider Hebrews 4:15: “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”
First of all, the temptation here is not related to the temptations found in Matthew 4:1- 11; Mark 1:13; Luke 4:1-13. Those temptations were seeking to destroy his messianic calling which is not common to us.
The Hebrew writer in 4:15 is implying the Jesus’ sinlessness was the result of a conscious decision, as well as an intense struggle, rather than the consequences of His divine nature. Look at Hebrews 5:7-9 (also read Hebrews 12:2-4): “In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation.”
The key to understanding this is that Jesus made the conscious decision to be obedient to His Heavenly Father just as He had made the decision to be obedient to his parents in Luke 2:51 & 52.
A number of years ago, I remember reading in “Our Daily Bread,” the daily devotional guide published by the Radio Bible Class, about a young boy who saw a sign “puppies for sale.” He asked to look at the puppies and wanted to buy one if they weren’t too expensive. “Well, son, they’re $25.” The boy looked crushed as he only had $2.50. “Could I see them, anyway?” he asked, “maybe something could be worked out.”
“Well, that’s the puppy I want. Could I pay for her a little at a time?”
“But she will always have a limp,” the man remarked. Smiling bravely, the boy pulled up one pant leg, revealing a brace. “I don’t walk good either.” Then looking at the puppy sympathetically, he continued, “I guess she’ll need a lot of love and help. I sure did. It’s not easy being crippled.” “Take her,” said the man, “I know you will give her a good home. And just forget about the money.”
This is a moving illustration of our Savior’s sympathetic understanding of our human condition. He can identify with our temptations, sufferings, and experiences. He understands pain and suffering “For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” (Heb. 2:18)