Consider some of the most respected figures in religious or political history. Moses is revered by the Jews as their lawgiver. Yet Moses was a murderer. Mohammad is honored by 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide as a prophet. Yet Mohammad may have been a pedophile, having sex with a child bride when she was just nine years of age. Buddha is revered by more than 300 million Buddhists. Yet Buddhism’s founder abandoned his family without warning to search for enlightenment. Karl Marx is revered by atheists and communists. Yet Marx’s philosophies led to the murder of more than 30 million people in the 20th century.
Every great religious or philosophical figure has some dark, stained past that even their so-called good deeds later in life can never erase. The same is even true in Christianity.
Christians regard Paul as the greatest Apostle, and most of the New Testament was authored by him. Yet Paul was a man of cruelty bent on murdering Christians before he became one himself. King David is revered by Jew and Christian alike for his tender heart to toward God and his unswerving devotion to righteousness. God called David a man after his own heart. Yet David was also an adulterer, a murderer, a man even the scriptures call, “a man of war [who has] shed blood.”
Jesus Christ is altogether different, wholly remarkable, and completely superior to these men. Unlike these significant figures of history, Jesus Christ lived without sin.
When his enemies publicly opposed him to draw the crowds away from Jesus, he challenged his detractors directly:
“Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If ?I speak truth, why do you not believe Me?” (John 8:46).
His enemies remained silent because none of them could produce any evidence for sin committed by Jesus. It was his sinlessness that made Jesus so powerful. While he had the natural authority that comes with being the Son of God; and while he had the authority that came with being a descendant of King David; and while he had the authority that came from being uniquely conceived and birthed; his sinless nature gave him a moral authority to speak, teach, and act, that no one else on earth possessed.
Even though Jesus was totally sinless, he did not use his position of absolute moral authority to condemn those who had sinned. Instead, he stood in their place, taking the punishment for the sin they deserved—the punishment that we deserve for our sin.
“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (II Corinthians 5:21).
Jesus’ sinless life was not lived in a vacuum or in some useless state as one who meditates in a lonely dessert focused on their own spiritual self-condition. Jesus’ sinless life was lived in real life, with real relationships, in real hardships, like every other normal person—yet without ever having felt, said, or committed a single wrongful thing.
“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” (Hebrews 4:15).
Jesus “…committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:22-23).
Jesus’ sinless life makes him superior to every other religious teacher and philosopher. In fact, his sinless existence makes him superior to every person, everywhere, at all times. There has never been anyone, and never will be anyone like Jesus Christ.
If Jesus’ life was lived in such a remarkable, supernatural fashion, then what Jesus said, and what he did on our behalf must also have great power. If other religious teachers and philosophers have flaws of character, human failings, weaknesses, and evil deeds to atone for, and yet we regard their teachings as important, then how much more important and superior should we regard Jesus Christ, who spoke, taught, and lived, and even died without sin.