This is one of the issues that I can't believe Christians would be confused over. But it seems it is, as in a 2009 Barna survey of Christian beliefs, "More than one-fifth (22%) strongly agreed that Jesus Christ sinned when He lived on earth, with an additional 17% agreeing somewhat.". That's a total of 39% of Christians, which is an absolutely shocking number. If any Christian really understands their theology they will see that it is impossible that Jesus sinned. The evidence for this will be discussed below.
The Bible says Jesus never sinned
First, if someone is a real Christian, they should take the Bible as God's 100% true word. If not... that's another issue which needs to be corrected. But if any Christian accepts the Bible as true and still believes Jesus sinned, there are some important scriptures that they should see.
- But Christ was sinless, and he offered himself as an eternal and spiritual sacrifice to God (Hebrews 9:14)
- Christ never sinned! But God treated him as a sinner, so that Christ could make us acceptable to God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
- Christ did not sin or ever tell a lie. Although he was abused he never tried to get even. And when he suffered he made no threats. (1 Peter 2:22)
Even Judas, who betrayed Jesus to the Pharisees, admits that Jesus had never sinned: "I have sinned by betraying a man who has never done anything wrong" (Matthew 27:4). Judas had been one of the 12 disciples, and would have been living and following Jesus around for 3 years before Jesus died. If anyone would have known about Jesus sinning, most likely it would have been one of his own disciples. But even the worst disciple admits that Jesus never sinned. Also, when Jesus was tried before Pontius Pilate (the Roman governor), after Pilate talked to Jesus he told the crowd outside "I don't find this man guilty of anything!" (John 18:38). Also, the Pharisees (who were known to be very strict about the law and sin) were not able to accuse him of any sin. The sin Jesus was accused of was claiming to be God (Matthew 26:63), which was not a sin because he really IS God. I'm sure if the Pharisees could have found him guilty of something less, they would have brought it up and arrested him much earlier.
But what about the Temple incident?
If anyone thinks about if Jesus sinned, this is probably what they think of. When Jesus went to Jerusalem, he went to the Temple. The best description of this is in John 2:13-15: "Not long before the Jewish festival of Passover, Jesus went to Jerusalem. There he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves in the temple. He also saw money-changers sitting at their tables. So he took some rope and made a whip. Then he chased everyone out of the temple, together with their sheep and cattle. He turned over the tables of the money-changers and scattered their coins.".
So is this an example of Jesus sinning? No. It doesn't say anywhere in the Bible that getting angry is a sin, or even kicking people out of a temple is sin. The 10 Commandments say "Do not murder", and Jesus did not kill anyone here. It states that Jesus did this not because he hated the people in the temple, but because he was upset over them turning the temple into a marketplace. "Jesus said to the people who had been selling doves, 'Get these doves out of here! Don't make my Father's house a marketplace."(John 2:16). This was because Jesus loved the temple and did not want to see it used for something other than its purpose as a house of God. Sometimes it is alright to be angry over something, especially things that are injust or are hurting other people. Jesus had the right to tell people what was allowed to happen in the temple because it was His temple, after all.
What about Jesus healing and working on the Sabbath?
There are a few times in the Bible that records Jesus doing things on the Sabbath (Saturday - the Jewish holy day), which the Pharisees did not approve of. There is a rule in the Old Testament which said "You have six days in which to do your work. But the seventh day must be dedicated to me, your Lord, as a day of rest. Whoever works on the Sabbath will be put to death. Don't even build a cooking fire at home on the Sabbath." (Exodus 35:1-2). Later there is an example of a man who was stoned for gathering firewood on the Sabbath (Numbers 15:32-33).
So does this mean that when Jesus healed people on the Sabbath, he was sinning? This is recorded multiple times in the bible, such as John 5:1-17, Luke 13:10-15, Luke 14:1-6, John 9, and others. However, Jesus had some good points when questioned by the Pharisees about his activities on the Sabbath. Jesus said to them "People were not made for the good of the Sabbath. The Sabbath was made for the good of people. So the Son of Man is Lord over the Sabbath." (Mark 2:27-28). He also said "On the Sabbath should we do good deeds or evil deeds? Should we save someone's life or destroy it?" (Mark 3:3-4), and "Haven't you read in the Law of Moses that priests are allowed to work in the Temple on the Sabbath? But no one says they are guilty of breaking the laws of the Sabbath. I tell you here that there is something here that is greater than the temple. Don't you know what the scriptures mean when they say 'Instead of you offering sacrifices to me, I want you to be merciful to others.'. If you knew what this means, you would not condemn these innocent disciples of mine." (Matthew 12:4-6). Jesus also pointed out that some work must be done whether it's the Sabbath or not "If you had a sheep that fell into a ditch on the Sabbath, wouldn't you lift it out? People are worth much more than sheep, and so it is right to do good on the Sabbath." (Matthew 12:11).
Since the Sabbath was made for people by God, if God (Jesus) decides that it is ok to do certain things during it, then it is up to him. It's the same as how it was not a sin for God to kill people in the Old Testament for disobeying Him, even though the 10 commandments given to people includes "Do not murder.". It's the same as how rules for children are created by adults, and adults can break them (i.e telling a kid to go to bed at 8pm because the adult knows it is best for the kid, but the adult can stay up much later.). The rule given to the kid does not apply to the adult, so the adult has the right to do whatever they want. God gave the Sabbath rule to people for a reason, but God Himself does not need to obey it if He chooses not to.
But Jesus hung out with sinners - doesn't that make him a sinner?
The Pharisees disapproved of who Jesus hung out with, and thought that his associations (tax collectors, prostitutes, etc.) showed he was a sinner. "Later, Jesus and his disciples were having dinner at Matthew's house. Many tax collectors and other sinners were also there. Some Pharisees asked Jesus' disciples 'Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and other sinners?'. Jesus heard them and answered 'Healthy people don't need a doctor, but sick people do... I didn't come to invite good people to be my followers. I came to invite sinners." (Matthew 9:10-13). Jesus was not a sinner because he ate and spend time with people who sinned. In fact he knew they were the ones most in need of his teaching and forgiveness.
Why is it so important that Jesus never sinned?
The Christians who say that Jesus sinned clearly don't understand how important it was that Jesus never sinned. If Jesus had sinned, then he would have had to die for his sins, and could not be the perfect sacrifice to God for all of our sins. Jesus was called the "Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world." (John 1:29). The lambs were offered at Passover to pay for the people's sins. They had to be completely perfect and spotless, or God would not accept the sacrifice. This was a metaphor and foreshadowing for the death of Jesus at Passover, who was completely innocent, to pay for all our sins once and for all. Without Jesus' perfect sacrifice, we would all be doomed to hell. "Jesus is the high priest we need. He is holy and innocent and faultless, and not at all like us sinners. Jesus is honoured above all beings in heaven, and he is better than any high priest. Jesus doesn't need to offer sacrifices each day for his own sins and then for the sins of the people. He offered a sacrifice once and for all, when he gave himself."(Hebrews 7:26-27). When Christians believe that Jesus sinned, what hope do they have of getting into heaven? This is the main central point of Christianity, and if they don't understand this, then how can they claim to be Christians?
As we have shown above, the Bible clearly says many times that Jesus was sinless. Even the times when it may appear he sinned, he did not if they are read carefully. Jesus' sinlessness is the most important characteristic which allowed him to be our perfect sacrifice for sin, and allows us to confidently say that when we die we will go to heaven if we accept his sacrifice. If Jesus did sin, then the entire basis of Christianity falls apart, and we are all doomed forever, for no amount of animal sacrifices could ever pay for our sins. The Christians who say that Jesus sinned clearly don't understand how what they are saying, probably because they don't understand the Bible and how the forgiveness of sins works. This is an important thing to understand, as it shows how important Jesus' death was, and gives us a reason to love and thank him for what he did. Barna Group - Most American Christians Do Not Believe that Satan or the Holy Spirit Exist - Apr 10, 2009