In last week’s sermon, the pastor drew attention to the often overlooked detail of Christ’s sinlessness. He pointed out how we humans are skilled at excusing, even justifying, our sin: “I lost my cool with the kids- but I’ve had 3 nights of interrupted sleep!” “I stubbed my toe! Of course some choice words would slip out.” “If you had had the day I had you would understand why I couldn’t take anymore.” I’m sure we could all add our own quotes to that list. And then the pastor drew our attention to what Jesus endured during His earthly journey.
Let’s take a closer look at a few examples. He went 40 days and 40 nights without food or water and then was tempted. He had the perfect “out” for capitulating to the tempter. But did He? No. He was almost continually surrounded by bumbling, annoying, accusing, devious, demanding, selfish, dense human beings. He could easily have yelled at them and said, “Enough! Don’t you know who I am? And yet you treat me as if I’m nothing more than a genie in a bottle. Stop touching me!” But did He? No.
And then there was the Cross and the torture leading up to it. The betrayal. The mocking. The spitting and scourging and crown of thorns. Who would have blamed Him for cursing everyone involved and moving on with His life? But did He? No.
The Bible tells us that Jesus understands our sinful condition. He was tempted in every way that we are but He did not sin. Sinful thoughts did not even enter His heart or mind; and that is the standard to which we are held. “For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.” 1Thessalonians 4:7. For those who are Christ-followers, we are to not only follow Him but to be like Him.
This is not meant to discourage but to inspire. Why? Because what is impossible for man is possible for God. It was Christ’s sacrifice that now enables us to live a holy life. He knows we are but dust and He equips us to resist temptation and bring glory to His name. “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:22-23
I think the hardest part of very hard days is feeling like I could have handled them so much better. But then I pause: did I want to do better so that I could feel better about myself? Or did I want Jesus to be glorified in my day? I truly think that my proverbial stubbed toes, skinned knees and bruised ego are to serve as daily reminders that I really cannot do holy on my own strength. For holiness to be holy it must remain untainted by human fingerprints; it is imperative that it comes from God and God alone.
As we approach the holy days of Passion Week, Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, let us put aside our own meager attempts to be like Christ and surrender instead to the sanctification process He promises to His own.