Jesus, a sinner?
Part 3: Well, I might as well have died for your sins
Now we all recall the whole “spotless lamb, without blemish” concept noted in Scripture and often quoted by those clinging strongly to the substitutionary view of atonement as a means of proving the necessity of Jesus’ sinlessness. It harkens back to the pagan idea of a “virgin” sacrifice, in which we kill an innocent in order to set free the guilty. Well, there can be no doubt that the New Testament presents this as an image of the atonement, but in the end it must be viewed – along with all of theology – as a condescension to our understanding. It is a facet of the atonement not much emphasized in the East for we do not recognize it as a factual, literal understanding of how we are saved. You will not often here us say: “Jesus died for your sins” but rather “Jesus conquered death for your sins.” The difference is critical.
I will not therefore say, in my attempt at showing the necessity of Jesus’ sinlessness that God needed a “virgin” upon which to pour out His righteous wrath, banish the thought – THIS IS NOT CHRISTIANITY! Rather, what Man needed (and note here: NOT GOD) was someone to overcome darkness, sickness, and death. But that someone could not do so if they themselves were participating in anyway in darkness, sickness, or death. You see Jesus’ resurrection was not a simple miracle as that which was performed by Jesus over the tomb of Lazarus, it was a great deal more than that. In truth, the Resurrection was a natural consequence of Death coming into direct contact with Life HIMSELF. Consider the wonderful Hymns of Holy Saturday in which Hades (death) is personified…they are without a doubt my favorites:
Today Hades cries out groaning, “my power has been abolished; I have received a
mortal, as one of the mortals; but this One, I am completely powerless to
contain; with Him, I have lost all those over which I have ruled. For ages
I had held them dead; but behold, He raises them up all.”
Today Hades lets out a groan: "Would that I had not received the son of
Mary: for when He came upon me He dissolved my power; He shattered the gates
of bronze; the souls I had held captive, as God He raised up."
You see, the personified Hades made a terrible error in judgement…taking hold of Him who he could not have a hold on. You see, death had tried to overcome LIFE and it was not to be. From the western perspective, God could have put ME on that cross and poured out all the sins of the world upon me. Would this have redeemed YOU? I have no idea…but I know for certain that since I have spent a lifetime engaged in darkness, sickness, and death that Hades would have contained me quite readily. Not so with the Theoanthropos, as the hymns suggest…Hades was rendered powerless by the nature of Him who he had embraced. It is in the resurrection – not the cross – that we have been given our salvation, and the accomplishment of the resurrection had to be done by Him over whom sin had no power. Jesus is more than just sinless…He is sinlessness personified.
To say He sinned is to say death had a rightful claim on Him. Nonsense.
Pascha is coming! Hallelujah!
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 8:21 AM [+]