Pastor's Pen: Was Jesus really perfect or not?

Was Jesus perfect?

The Bible clearly says He was without sin.

A CNN commentator said recently that Jesus was "admittedly not perfect when he was here on earth."

The context of the TV discussion was justifying the tearing down of statues by protesters. The commentator's reasoning went like this: Even the followers of Jesus admit that He wasn't perfect, so why do those who oppose the tearing down of statues have such a hard time admitting that the Founding Fathers weren't perfect?

I won't address the issue of tearing down statues here, though I'm strongly opposed to it and strongly disagree with the commentator's logic. I will address the statement he made that the followers of Jesus acknowledge He wasn't perfect, however.

For non-Christians like this CNN commentator, it may seem unreasonable to say Jesus was perfect. After all, who among us is perfect? It's much easier for people to accept the historical Jesus as a man than as the Son of God as He claimed to be.

If Jesus was just a philosopher or just a religious leader or just a prophet, then you can agree in principle with His message about treating others the way you want to be treated, not seeking revenge, or giving to those in need without any further commitment.

The message is nice to follow if you want to and the world would be a better place if more people lived it out, but that's where it ends. If you choose to apply those principles then it's a good thing, but if you don't, that's up to you.

The bible says something very different, though. Jesus is far more than a philosopher or a religious leader; He is the eternal, living Son of God. The bible tells us God became flesh and dwelt among us, revealing God to us in a deeper more intimate way and showing us the pathway to peace with God the Father and how to receive the assurance of eternal life in Him.

People can choose to accept or reject that message because God also gives us a free will. But those who reject the message take the risk that it's not true. If it is true and those people die in a sinful state, they are unable to go to heaven and be in God's presence and their eternal spirit goes instead to a place absent of God's presence, where there is darkness, wailing and gnashing of teeth. People who do not have their sins forgiven here in this life will receive the just penalty for their sins after they die. That's not what God desires but it's what people can choose because they are free to do so.

The CNN commentator also wrongly said that even people who believe in Jesus acknowledge that He wasn't perfect. The whole foundation of Christianity is that Jesus is the Son of God. If He wasn't perfect then He wasn't God and all of Christianity crumbles as a belief system. If Jesus did not live a sinless life then He was not God and He was not eligible to die on the cross for the sins of mankind.

The whole basis for salvation and eternal life is the forgiveness of sins offered through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Without the atoning death of Jesus, the Christian faith is totally worthless.

According to the bible, Jesus died in our place. The perfect Son of God willingly took everyone's sins upon Himself in order to pay the penalty that we deserved. Jesus suffered and died on the cross to satisfy the wrath of God against sin. Anyone who believes in Jesus and is willing can cry out today to God for forgiveness from their sins because of what Jesus did on our behalf. This is what God desires for all of us. It is why He sent his Son Jesus to die in our place.

The blood the Son of God shed on the cross "covers" the sins of those who are sorrowful and repent and makes us clean before God the Father, our Creator. Since we are now clean, we can be in the presence of God. We have the assurance that we will go to heaven when we die. Christians believe Jesus was resurrected from the dead on the first Easter morning and we who follow Jesus will also have our own resurrection to eternal life when we pass from this world.

Jesus plainly said, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me" (John 14:6). Jesus was condemned at His trial before the Sanhedrin because He claimed to be the Son of God.

Either Jesus is the Son of God and worthy of all our praise and devotion or He is a liar and deserving of none of it. But we can't separate Jesus from His claim to deity.