The Greatest Sinner Who Ever Lived

Guest Blogger: Patrick Thurmer

We love the many names and titles of Jesus such as: Lord, Savior, Redeemer, Christ, Shepherd, Lamb, Light of the World, I AM, Prophet, Priest, and King, to name just a few.

But what about this name for Jesus? SIN.

Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us.”

It seems almost blasphemous to say it, but it is true. Jesus became SIN for us.

We marvel at Christmas time at the descent of God from the glory of heaven into human flesh. The fact of the incarnation demands our awe and wonder. Only eternity will reveal to us the enormity of that journey. But the descent of God in Christ wasn’t complete at his birth. He plunged further still by living and walking the sin-stained roads of earth with us. He radically identified with us when he was baptized in the sin-filled waters of the Jordan. Martin Luther believed that it was there at the Jordan that Jesus actually took upon himself the sin of mankind and carried it from that day forward to the garden of Gethsemane and to the cross, where the depth of his descent horrifies us.

He became sin for us!

Paul goes on in verse 21 to reveal his purpose. We make much these days of the “purpose-driven way,” but here the ultimate purpose and hope is revealed, “so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” He became SIN so that our name and title might be changed. Because Jesus became SIN, in him we become RIGHTEOUS! Luther called it a divine exchange.

In his legendary novel, A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens wrote of a young Englishman trapped in the hatred and violence of the French Revolution. Captured by revolutionaries, the man was sentenced to death on the guillotine.

But just before his scheduled execution, he was visited by a French friend who bore an incredible resemblance to the doomed man. After the guard left, the Frenchman ordered the prisoner to exchange clothes with him.

Moments later the guard unknowingly escorted the Englishman to safety while his French friend was executed in his place. An extraordinary exchange.

Jesus, the friend of sinners, clothed himself in our sin and he clothes us in his righteousness. That divine exchange means life for us.

In his commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, Luther wrote: “All the prophets of old said that Christ should be the greatest transgressor, murderer, adulterer, thief, blasphemer that ever was or ever could be on earth. When he took the sins of the whole world upon himself, Christ was no longer an innocent person. He was a sinner burdened with the sins of a Paul who was a blasphemer; burdened with the sins of a Peter who denied Christ; burdened with the sins of a David who committed adultery and murder, and gave the heathen occasion to laugh at the Lord. In short, Christ was charged with the sins of all men, that he should pay for them with his own blood. The curse struck him. The Law found him among sinners. He was not only in the company of sinners. He had gone so far as to invest himself with the flesh and blood of sinners. So the Law judged and hanged him for a sinner.”

Think about the collective guilt of humankind throughout history and include in that the cruelty of all wars, all crimes, all murders, the holocausts and every other heinous act ever committed against humanity.
Then add to that the guilt of all other injustices that have ever occurred including the false accusations and all the lies that have ever been told.

Add to that the guilt for all deeds of hate, envy, pride and gossip that has ever or will ever occur.

Then add the guilt for all the ways people have neglected to show kindness, offer help or give of themselves.

Add to that already huge package the guilt of all unclean, unkind or imperfect thoughts that anyone has ever had.

And then finally add to that the guilt of all your sin.

Then think about all of these and all other sins that have ever occurred throughout the centuries of time and pack all of it in one bundle of guilt and then take that huge bundle and put it on the back of Jesus.

That is what occurred.

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us.”

God made him who was pure without spot or blemish, God made him who was perfect in every way, to be that package of sin.

Jesus became my sin, Jesus became your sin. And then to top it off God judged Jesus to be GUILTY for the whole package and to die the death he died.

The weight of that, the horror, the dread and the enormity of it all is incomprehensible.

It caused Jesus to cry out to his Father, “My God.... Why have you forsaken me?”

The One who was eternally existent with the Father, the co-creator of all that is, the only Son of God, the second member of the Trinity knew for the first time the full fury and wrath of the Father for sin and the incomprehensible despair that accompanies it.

As repulsive as it may sound to us, only in this truth—that Jesus became SIN—is our hope and our salvation found.