Q&A: Jesus the Sinner

Jesus the Sinner

Question

Did Jesus ever sin? I never thought so, but a man I talked to said that Jesus sinned on the cross. He stated that accepting the vinegar was sinnful. He also said that when Jesus said, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46), Jesus lost his faith in God the Father. God said he would never forsake anyone, so my friend said that Jesus sinned by losing his faith.

Answer

No, Jesus never sinned. The Bible specifically says that Jesus was sinless: "Christ . . . offered himself without blemish to God" (Heb. 9:14). The author of Hebrews also teaches: "Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need" (Heb. 4:14-16).

Notice that in Hebrews 4:14-16, the author of Hebrews teaches that the fact that Christ was sinless should give us confidence to draw near to the throne of grace. If Christ were not sinless, we would not be able to approach the throne at all -- we would be dead in our sins, and subject to God's wrath. Christ's sacrifice would have been insufficient if he had been sinful, and thus it would never have covered our sins (Heb. 9:14-15).

Regarding the specific sins your friend has attributed to Christ, the suggestion that Christ sinned when he drank the vinegar or sour wine is totally without biblical foundation. There is no indication anywhere in Scripture to suggest anything of this sort. Perhaps your friend has said this believing that it is a sin to drink alcohol, but again this assertion is completely without biblical support. Wine is a covenant blessing (e.g. Gen. 27:28; Deut. 7:13; 11:14; 33:28), and was a blessed and acceptable offering to God (e.g. Num. 15:5,7,10). God approved of and encouraged its use (e.g. Deut. 14:26) -- sometimes even in large doses (Prov. 31:6-7).

Also, God actually did forsake Jesus on the cross, just as he regularly forsakes those who fall under his curse (e.g. Deut. 31:17; Josh. 24:20; Judg. 10:11-14; 2 Kgs. 22:16-17; 1 Chr. 28:9; 2 Chr. 12:5). Although Jesus was not himself sinful, we are. When Jesus took our place on the cross, God accounted our sin to him. Christ was not actually corrupted or made sinful by this, but God looked upon him and punished him as if he had committed every sin of every person for whom he died. This is why we call his death "substitutionary." He was our substitute; we were sentenced to death, and he died for our guilt. Because God counted Christ as sinful, Christ fell under God's curse (Gal. 3:13-14), and thus God forsook him (Matt. 27:46; Mark 15:34). Jesus' cry that God had forsaken him was quite despairing, but it was not a lack of faith. It was the honest expression of the pain he felt at being forsaken by God, not a belief that he would always remain forsaken by God.

Answer by Ra McLaughlin

Ra McLaughlin is Vice President of Finance and Administration at Third Millennium Ministries.